Monday 8 June 2009

The debate over race has moved on, says Khan

(from the Fabian Society Conference on Saturday, 17 January 2009 as published on

The Labour Party has taken the ‘black vote’ for granted for too long, Sadiq Khan MP told a session at the Fabian Society conference.

He argued that the politics of race had to move on: “The Labour Party has for too long taken the black vote for granted. I think we’ve become lazy.”

He added: “It’s now about considering multiple identities - we’re not just Muslim or Asian or black or a parent or a Londoner or a man, we’re multiple identities.”

Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown felt race as an issue has been forgotten: “We no longer talk about race. We need to find new ways of addressing emerging problems. We’re nowhere near the kind of equal society we need to be in.”

The impact of Barack Obama’s rise to the US presidency was a recurring theme. Khan, the new chair of the Fabian Society, said Obama had “burst the myth that if you’re a person of colour you can’t win votes.”

Simon Wooley, Director of Operation Black Vote, said there was a danger of assuming we now live in a “post-racial society.”

Wooley added: “The black communities need to come together in this window of opportunity when it’s cool to be black and drive the agenda forward with the political parties.”

Guardian columnist Dave Hill said Obama “embodies and personifies the complexities of race.”

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