Op-Ed: So you are a brand spanking new MP entering the Houses of Parliament for the first time. If you are dressed for the part, although clothing should not matter, would you expect to be challenged for opting to ride in the Member's only lift?
You may of course expect that someone somewhere in the building would check your ID but by the time you get to the lift that business will surely be over and done with?
But how about if a member assumes you are a cleaner and not an MP?
Now why would they draw such a conclusion? If someone has and you are young, female and black the conclusion for most of is that you have encountered parliamentary racism.
Sunday the Daily Mirror reports "A black MP today revealed how she suffered racism in parliament after a fellow MP thought she must have been a cleaner. Labour’s Dawn Butler recalled the incident which took place in a Members'-only lift at the Palace of Westminster. Asked on BBC Five Live’s Piennar’s Politics if she had ever experienced racism in parliament, the Brent Central MP replied: “Yes - God, there are so many incidents. “There was a time when I was in the lift. It was a Members’ lift that Members of Parliament use specially in cases we have [to] get to places quickly. “I was in the lift and some other MP said, ‘This lift really isn’t for cleaners’."
She has gallantly refused to name the MP though that leaves a nagging doubt that it could be a member of her own political party.
But in 2008 Dawn named and surely shamed David Heathcote-Amory, Tory, in an article after he had confronted her as she went to sit in the Members’ section on the terrace.
"“He actually said to me, ‘What are you doing here? This is for Members only’,” she wrote. “He then proceeded to ask me, 'Are you a member?' And I said, ‘Yes I am, are you?‘ And he turned around and said to his colleague, ‘They’re letting anybody in nowadays.’"
While such blatantly ignorant words could be down to many things including racism sexism and even snobbery the final section of the Daily Mirror report leaves this writer in no mind about this particular incident.
"“It is quite absurd,” he was quoted as saying. “What she is actually objecting to is that I didn’t recognise her as a new MP. “I simply asked her what she was doing at that end of the terrace, and they are quite sensitive about this kind of thing, they think that any kind of reprimand from anyone is racially motivated"."
THEY just who are THEY Mr David Heathcote-Amory?
That defines his manner and demeanour as racist without the shadow of a doubt.
Who is David Heathcote-Amory?
In May 2009 the Daily Telegraph reported "David Heathcoat-Amory’s gardener used hundreds of sacks of horse manure and the MP submitted the receipts to Parliament." The report also said "Since 2004, Mr Heathcoat-Amory, the MP for Wells, Somerset, has claimed thousands of pounds to maintain his garden, including services like mowing and watering."
He paid back "almost £30,000 following the House of Commons expenses audit."
But unlike some Labour MPs who were tried and jailed he kept his job.
Wikipedia describes him as “a British politician, accountant and farmer. He was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Wells from 1983 until he lost the seat in the 2010 general election. He became a member of the British Privy Council in 1996.
[If I was a visitor to the Commons and spoken to in such a way I would draw my own conclusions about parliament and its members and be inclined to think that at least some MPs do not represent the people ever]
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