Bristol city councillor in race row


Black groups in Bristol are in uproar over the race-disparaging comments made by a Labour Councillor against the country’s first directly elected Mayor from an African/Caribbean background, Marvin Rees, and his Deputy Asher Craig who is also from African/ Caribbean heritage.

Speaking on social media, Cllr Harriet Bradley commented: ‘Wish I was Mayor! I like Marvin but I am honestly not sure if he gets socialism. His background-like that of Asher Craig his deputy –is in diversity politics.’

The suggestion of Bradley's disparaging comments are that two of the city’s Black political leaders, Rees and Craig, are more interested in ‘diversity politics’, coded for Black politics, rather than tackling social inequality, not because there’s any evidence of that, but rather because they are both Black.

Commenting on the social media thread in which Bradely spoke out, Delroy Hibbert wrote: ‘Has Cllr Bradley been on to explain her racist comments...?

The Director of Stand Against Racism and Inequality- SARI- Alex Raikes has written to the Regional Director of Labour South West as well as Bristol City Council to make a formal complaint.

Both Rees and Craig were brought up in a working class environment. Rees’s mixed heritage and working class back story have been well documented. And like another mixed heritage leader, Barack Obama, Rees has often gone overboard talking about how he represents the interest of all Bristolians, Black and white.

Some people in Bristol are surprised that this type of attack should come from his own party. I’m not. Sadly, there have always been elements within the left and left of centre politics who have sought to undermine Black leaders, and or dismiss persistent race inequalities, unable to anything beyond gender and class. As a result Black leaders often seen being very cautious about targeting race issues in order to avoid the charge, 'they are ony looking out for there own.'

For example, it is interesting that it was the former Bristol Mayor George Ferguson who boldly came out first confronting the statues and the institutions named after slave owner Edward Coulston.

Rees has always questioned the city’s glorification of such a man, but not boldly, perhaps, precisely because he knew his detractors would have accused him of playing the ‘race card’.

I’m sure after this episode, both Marvin and Asher, will realise that they’ll be damned if they do the right thing and damned if they don’t, so they should keep to their principles of tackling racial and social injustice and ignore the friendly and hostile fire.

In regards to Councillor Harriet Bradley, it’s a shame she did not see her Leader in Washington DC, as I did last year. There he held court with the UK Ambassador in DC along with business leaders from around the world extolling the business and cultural virtues of his ‘great city’.

So excited were the officials by Marvin’s comments they invited a Bristol city council delegation, to travel the US , forging business links and cultural opportunities.

Simon Woolley