Lee Jasper is a human rights activist with a track record both of being outspoken on issues affecting black people and of doing something about them. He is a founder of Blaksox, a social movement to mentor and empower young black people to ‘do for self’ and to leave a positive legacy for following generations.
Mr Jasper has publicly debated Tory GLA (Greater London Assembly) member Shaun Bailey on a number of occasions.
So when Mr Bailey, prompted by an article by hard-right blog Guido Fawkes, accused Labour MP Emma Dent Coad of racism for comments she quoted about him seven years ago, Mr Jasper was quick to call him out:
Mr Jasper spoke to the SKWAWKBOX and elaborated on his challenge and the reasons for it:
Emma Dent Coad – and this is something I hear from everyone who knows her, too – is a genuine, hard-working individual who fights for all her local people and has stood up fearlessly for those affected by the Grenfell fire and to highlight the issues it has raised – issues that disproportionately affect black people and those from other ethnic communities.
Shaun Bailey, on the other hand, is a desperately ambitious young man who is keen to progress within the Conservative party and to become an MP. He’s been around the political scene for ages and we’ve been in many public debates together.
My challenges to him around policing issues, stop and search practices and institutionalised racism have been met, on media programmes and elsewhere, by him denying the extent of the institutionalised racism and claiming that suggestions of racism are exaggerated.
In my opinion, his allegations now are more driven by individual political ambition than by a genuine cause.
So when I heard about the article, I first checked to see whether there was something I didn’t know about Emma that would be a genuine cause for concern. But when I dug into it, I quickly realised that it was just an attempt to fit her up with accusations of racism that bore no relation to the truth.
For Shaun Bailey to cynically jump on that bandwagon, when he’s part of a party that has seen the massive application of racial inequality and divisiveness and a huge increase in racial and religious hate-crime, is extreme hypocrisy.
There was no way I was going to let Bailey have a free pass on a blatantly political smear against an opposition MP who is working hard for her constituency on social housing and other issues that affect black people, when he wants to be part of part of a government that has overseen the biggest rise in racism in the post-war period.
Shaun Bailey was contacted for comment but has failed to respond by the time of publication.
Mr Jasper was not the only one to show support for Emma Dent Coad. In sharp contrast to the politically-motivated smear campaign, which was shamefully promoted by the BBC today on its Daily Politics programme, community members and leaders in her constituency also got behind her:
Blaksox works in communities as well as with individuals. Its second annual ‘Legacy Gala’ black-tie event will be held 9 December and four hundred of five hundred tickets have already been sold.
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