Monday, 19 September 2011

Inside the mind of Lee Jasper.... quotes and random thoughts

I will be updating this post regularly, so come back and share my world.. Lee Jasper

We must never become adjusted to injustice, settling for less to look our best...

"There are those who come so pious and righteous and proclaiming equality and justice critising those who do the work who have been there .They became converted as a result of the 'cause celebre' status of high profile campaigns. They were were never there on the cold lonely nights when their heroes - the people they now proclaim, were being vilified. Long nights protecting homes from BNP attack, long nights sitting in morgues and police stations and counselling the mothers of the dead. There are none so righteous...."
  Old habits can't be thrown out the upstairs window. They have to be coaxed down the stairs one step at a time....

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. William Jennings Bryan

Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. St. Francis of Assisi

Plan for the future, because that is where you are going to spend the rest of your life. Mark Twain

" So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice--or will we be extremists for the cause of justice? " Dr Martin Luther King Letter from Birmingham Jail (April 1963)

"People are never more insecure than when they become obsessed with their fears at the expense of their dreams."
~Norman Cousins

"I would rather be ashes than dust; I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot; I would rather be in a superb meteor, every atom of me in a magnificent glow than in a sleepy and permanent planet; the proper function of man is to live, not to exist; I should not waste my days in trying to prolong them; I shall USE my time." ~Jack London

“The best index to a person’s character is: a) how he treats people who can’t do him any good and b) how he treats people who can’t fight back.” – Abigail Van Buren

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” – Virginia Satir

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Gustav Jung

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.” – Maya Angelou

“It’s not what you call me, but what I answer to.” – African proverb

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” - St. Frances de Sales

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.” - St. Francis de Sales

“Just because you don’t take an interest in politics, does not mean politics does not take an interest in you” - Pericles

“You have very little morally persuasive power with people who can feel your underlying contempt.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Loving ourselves creates miracles in our lives.” - Louise Hay

“Anxiety is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.” - Seth Godin

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” -Teilhard de Chardin

“The way we see the problem is the problem.” – Stephen Covey

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. - Winston Churchill

God is to big to fit into one religion.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

I find personally that the greatest revenge is to accomplish what others say you can not do. So go out and do it.

Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else – you are the one who gets burned.

I know a lot of very bright people. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing. Growing happens when what you know changes how you live.

I often hear people say when opportunity arises that they are not ready. Fact is you will never feel 100% ready when an opportunity arises.

Emotional decisions are rarely good decisions. Is that your experience?

Observational question. Are the problems we have with others are typically more about us?

Question: Happiness and success are they two different things?

Question: How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?

Question:Is it possible to lie without saying a word?

Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to's learning to dance in the rain.

I am too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful and too determined to be defeated.

My job is definitely secure. No one else wants it.

People are made to be loved and things are made to be used. The confusion in this world is that people are being used and things are being loved.

Vision without execution is delusion and execution without vision is a nightmare

A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.
Baltasar Gracian

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.

Behold the turtle. He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.

I'm struggling with myself but don't worry there can only be one winner!

When you live in reaction, you give your power away. Then you get to experience what you gave your power to.

The only way you may correct the bad things in your past is to add better things to your future. Shiloh Morrison

The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice that which we are for what we could become. Charles DuBois

What a strange narrowness of mind now is that, to think the things we have not known are better than the things we have known. ~Samuel Johnson

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me.

You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him. Leo Aikman

Do not confuse your vested interests with ethics. Do not identify the enemies of your privilege with the enemies of humanity. Max Lerner, Actions and Passions, 1949

Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.

I tell you everything that is really nothing, and nothing of what is everything, do not be fooled by what I am saying. Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying. ~Charles C. Finn

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. Winston Churchill

“Listen or thy tongue will keep thee deaf” Indian Proverb quotes

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant

When proposing a way forward or entering into a debate avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it

"Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage. Publilius Syrus First Century BC, Maxim 914

‎"Big egos have little ears." — Robert Schuller

Effective listeners remember that "words have no meaning - people have meaning." The assignment of meaning to a term is an internal process; meaning comes from inside us. And although our experiences, knowledge and attitudes differ, we often misinterpret each other’s messages while under the illusion that a common understanding has been achieved."
— Larry Barker

"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." Steve Biko Speech in Cape Town, 1971

I have a book waiting to be born gestating in the recess of my mind. It haunts me and sits on my shoulder teasing me with taunts of self doubt and failure. It excites me with phrases and thought and then tells me no one is really interested and invites public ridicule. Every morning its sits there this mocking apparition so I write furious for reassurance...

What is important is that we do not allow our past to determine our future Having endured the terrible abuse of racism and slavery we do not become abusers ourselves That we learn the lesson of history and understand our role is in part in teaching humanity that the evil of racism and oppression is ultimately an act of self abuse by white We now act as abusers having been abused now abuse ourselves. This I believe is our destiny to heal ourselves so we can play our part in healing the world...

Let me be clear today. I love humanity all colours creeds, those of faith and those with none.I care not about colour I care about justice. When I see my own family my own community suffering because of racism and yet face the daily routine denial of racism from its perpetrators I am compelled to act in defence of my community and for the promotion of common humanity. If racism was more widely acknowledged maybe I could have become a brain surgeon its not and here I am a warrior for justice...

I am often asked why I focus on race issues They ask me if I have a pathological hatred of white people and why do I see race in absolutely everything. This saddens me some Britons will support the freedom fighters of Libya even when they are slaughtering black Africans, support Israel in their oppression of Palestinians give more money to animals than to people welfare. And yet right here in their own backyard they are not only blind but vehemently hostile to those who challenge British racism..

I'm not a racist I am a humanist I fight for the rights of all people who face social and economic injustice. If born a black man I see and act on the acute suffering of my own community first that's not prejudice that's survival. If I denounce racism that not reverse racism that's pro humanity as racism has killed more people than all the wars put together. I am an African human rights warrior fighting for global equality and justice for all people regardless of race or faith...

Autumn has arrived and having been born a winter child I always feel a surge of confidence and anticipation at such time. The natural process of renewal spring summer, autumn and winter representing the spiritual process of experiential emotional and intellectual learning. I want to clean my house, my mind, my body and my soul...

Friday, 16 September 2011

Appeal: Off Duty Fireman tasered by Harrow Met Police

'An off duty Fireman trying to supply information after witnessing their Police van being vandalised was aggressively approached, tasered and arrested by Harrow Met Police.

 Edric's Statement:
This is a statement I wrote on Sunday 4th September at unknown time between 6am and 9am in a cell (South Harrow Police Station), within five hours of the incident that took place. I wasn’t aware how long I was going to be in the cell, so I wrote this statement whilst events where fresh in my head.

I was driving from Watford Sunday morning (approximately 0345hours) heading down harrow view towards south harrow. As I travelled the road I was forced to stop as there was a police van in a fend off position blocking the road. I could see nothing ahead at this point. Initially my thoughts were that there was a possible RTA ahead. Whilst I sat in my car waiting to manoeuvre around the police vehicle, there were youths traversing the pavement on my right side. One of the youths picked up what I thought to be a big rock and launched it at the driver window of the police vehicle. I took a description of the youth in order to relay it to the officer when he turned the van around. Surprisingly to me, this took over a minute. I knew he had not seen the individual who committed the offence, so I flagged him down in order to pass on the description. ‘”Sorry mate,”’ I said, but before I could finish my sentence the officer replied, ‘”Fuck off you prick!!’” I was shocked at this response and felt extremely disrespected.

The van was out of the way, and I could now see the road block ahead. Police cars and dozens of officers. Most holding shields to my recollection. I pulled in relatively close to them in order to:
Identify the officer driving the van as I felt there was no need for the manner in which he spoke and I wished to report it.
Relay the description of the youth who threw the rock
Request the quickest diversion route to my final destination

An Asian officer 35-48 approached me cautiously holding his shield and told me to turn around and get out of there. I attempted to voice my question and information and found myself once again met with swearing and hostility. ‘” Fuck Off!”’ is all I can recall at this time. I replied, ‘”There’s no need for that, who do you think you’re talking to you fucking mug.”’ More of the officers began to hurl verbal abuse at me. All this commotion and I just wanted to assist. I wanted to turn my car around, park up, and speak to someone with sense in order to explain the situation. More than 10 officers began charging at me with their asps once again hurling abuse and telling me that my car was about to get smashed up. A few officers reached in through my car window grabbing my neck and ripping my shirt buttons as they did so. Officers on the other side also grabbed me viciously and attempted to remove the keys from the ignition. I quickly removed my keys and placed them in my pocket. I was then dragged out of the car into the middle of the road. I stood up as they all attempted to grab a piece of me and bend me up. I made my body rigid and maintained a calm and collective manner whilst saying to the officers, ‘”What are you doing? Is any of this necessary? I’m not putting up a fight. I’d just like to explain something”’. It was as if I was talking to a brick wall. No one was interested. They just wanted to bend me up. They were like wild animals. I managed to release myself from the grasp of the officers by making a quick dash out of there. When I was approximately 5-10 metres away, I faced the mob once again saying, ‘”What is wrong with you guys? I pose you no threat. I’m a firefighter, I work with you lot and just want to explain something. I’ve showed no aggression towards any of you.”’ Once again my words fell on deaf ears and they began to run at me with their asps. I wasn’t just going to stand there as I’d never come across ‘animal like’ officers before, so I took a quick jog which was enough to escape the grasp of the slow and unfit officers. They continued to hurl abuse whilst chasing me.

I was now faced with the dilemma of my £30,000 vehicle being in the middle of the road, both doors open with these wild officers around it. All I wanted to do was explain the situation, retrieve my vehicle and go home. Once again I tried to address the officers in a calm and civilised manner. (At no point throughout this incident did I demonstrate aggression or give the impression that I was a likely threat). As I slowly walked towards them, they had their asps out and looked like they wanted to use them. I began to traverse backwards as they advanced towards me. The next thing I knew I was having multiple spasms on the ground after being shot with a taser gun. This seemed to go on for more than 5 seconds. Officers laughed in the background as this took place. I was then jumped on, stood on, bent up, and handcuffed in such a manner I thought my shoulders were going to pop out. I was then roughly marched up the road to the meat wagon.

When speaking to the officers at this time. It was clear to me that they knew I wasn’t a threat. * I requested my handcuffs be taken off or put to the front of me as my shoulders had been in constant pain since applied. They used my ‘size’ and the possibility that I could be a ‘super star martial artist’ to try and justify their actions. I laughed and said, ‘”Look into my eyes, you know I’m no threat. *The cuffs where then removed and I relocated my hands to the front.

I then spoke to the officer who tasered me in the presence of the other officers telling him there was no need for that. Once hearing my explanation, one officer said, ‘” It’s a case of wrong place, wrong time mate.”’ That seemed to be the general consensus with the officers around at that time.

I was then escorted back to the station where the standard booking and procedures took place.
* Due to the fact that I sustained injuries and had been tasered, I had to see the Dr in attendance at the station. When I was escorted to the room, the officer opened the door. The Dr looked up and said, ‘”What is this man doing in here?! He should not be in here. This is a good man!”’ This happened to be my Dr of the last 15 years who knows me very well. When explaining what happened, he sat their speechless shaking his head whilst examining my injuries.

Whilst these events took place, many witnesses were present. Some merely spectating, others recording the event. On seeing this, officers shouted, ‘”Turn those fucking cameras off!”’ I’ll endeavour to get these recordings. It will then be clear to see how WRONG my treatment was early hours this morning. I’m still in shock.


Nil food or drink since 7pm Sat evening
What was the need to search my vehicle (for ‘”Other items of interest?”’). Do you not need reasonable grounds to do this? What are his reasonable grounds?
Could it be the officers are aware that I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong and are in search of something/anything to pin on me?
Could it be because I am young black and drive an expensive vehicle?
Why have I been kept waiting for so long? (Over 13 hours in a cell. Station not busy)
Are they trying to collaborate a story?
Racial factor? The rioters were black.
What happened to my mobile phone? (Brand new I Phone 4g miraculously disappeared from my vehicle. Never to be seen again).
What happened to my car? Is there any damage?
Am I a drug dealer because I’m black and I have nice possessions?
Everything that has happened as yet is truly unbelievable. Does it get worse? Will they try and plant something in my vehicle
Camera footage will reveal everything

I don’t claim to be perfect but I can positively say that I am of good character. I have numerous people to vouch for me including officers who are good friends. I’ve been a hard worker all my life completing school with good grades and likewise college with four A levels. I’ve worked in so many different fields. Advertising, Met Police, Personal Training, HM Prison service, Security work, Modelling and TV work, and I’ve been with the London fire brigade for 6 years now. Six years ago (I was 22 at the time) my Mother passed away leaving me to take responsibility for my younger brother (12 at the time). I’ve brought him up to the age of 18 and have tried to be a good role model and set a good example as my mother did for me. He’s just completed college with good grades and is set to start university this week.

Every single person who knows me from whatever aspect of life will tell you that I am not an aggressive person at all, and always act in a calm and collected manner.
I no longer have faith in the police service. I honestly feel this is a mockery.'

Signed Edric Kennedy-Macfoy 04-09-2011

Originally posted at:

 Date: 4th Sept approx 4am, as he travelled down Harrow View towards South Harrow. There were witnesses, many with camera phones recording the incident. We would urge anyone with video footage to please upload it to Facebook or Youtube and share it as evidence. We were made aware of a travesty of justice via this Group page:

All information above via:!/OffDutyFiremanTaseredByHarrowMetPolice

Newington Green Unitarian church set to host debate on the riots September 20th

POLITICAL figures including Diane Abbott MP and former London race equality adviser Lee Jasper, will be speaking at a conference in Islington next Tuesday (September 20) to debate the aftermath of last month’s riots.

Church minister Rev Andrew Pakula, who is organising the conference at Newington Green Unitarian church, said he was unhappy with the way the disorder was being blamed on various factions – by politicians on the left and right – without sufficient analysis of the causes.

Other speakers will include: Owen Jones, author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, who is a former trade union official; Leon Fearon, a 19-year-old Londoner who recently tackled London Mayor
Boris Johnson live on Sky News over the ongoing cuts to the city’s youth services; and Merlin Emanuel, nephew of Smiley Culture, the reggae singer who died during a police raid.

Rev Pakula said: “The riots were a wake-up call. They are symptomatic of the malaise which has been festering beneath the apparent successful surface of our society.”
He said the church was close to Tottenham and Hackney where the riots first erupted and that there had been a number of incidents close by, including some looting in Essex Road.

“People do this because they feel they have nothing to lose,” said Rev Pakula. “They wouldn’t riot if they felt they had a stake in society.” He said that while the rioters committed crimes they should not be treated as criminals. “To call them criminals is suggesting they are intrin­sically bad,” said Rev Pakula. “I don’t believe that. The important thing now is how we stop this happening again.”
He said he hoped the conference would provide ideas about ways of helping young rioters to reconnect with society.

“Mentoring is a helpful tool,” Rev Pakula added. “It can give ­people hope and provide a good role model.”
Each speaker will present a short account of their opinions and what they believe might help improve the problems in society. This will be followed by a question and answer session from the audience before breaking into smaller groups for more focused discussion.

Tuesday’s debate will take place at Newington Green Unitarian church from 1-3pm.

(Originally posted at:

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Important message from Bishop Malcolm re: Operation Hope and Recovery

A message from Bishop Wayne Malcolm

Dear friends, Operation Hope & Recovery scheduled for Friday night has been postponed due to clashes with a number of other community events. It is now scheduled for late October and details will be posted on the website shortly. Thanks for your commitment to making a difference. This is a small glitch in a big program. Stay tuned....


Crisis equals opportunity! Operation Hope & Recovery update.

“When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters-one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity” John F Kennedy.
As the whole country sought to recovery from the pain, tragedy and anger of the recent riots a few good people came together to examine the critical questions of how to tackle the underlying causes that have resulted in too many communities suffering unacceptable levels of injustice, alienation, poverty and unemployment.

The tragic shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham by the Metropolitan Police Service acted as a catalyst for many with a deep sense of injustice and social exclusion. That resulted in the widespread disorder we witnessed that night. For others alienated, angry and unemployed with little hope or vision for the future the disturbances provided an opportunity to hit back at a society they believe has both discarded and marginalized them.

They were swept up in the general chaos and hysteria of the night. Finally there were those who were sole intent and motivation was arson and criminal looting. What was common to all was that many lived in some of the most deprived areas of Britain. What is common to all those who took part is their capacity to change their lives and to achieve their own distinct human potential .

At a series of hastily convened meetings leading black church figure Bishop Wayne Malcolm and several key community based activists such as Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote, Viv Ahmun of Black Men in the Community, David Weaver Chair of the 1990 Trust and Lee Jasper co Chair of BARAC to consider what is now to be done to respond to the challenges faced by many communities across the country.

It was clear that these issues were too critically important to the future hopes and aspirations of our community to be left in the hands of politicians alone. We understood that this was a seminal moment in our history and that it required a total paradigm shift in our thinking and approach in seeking to respond to the situation we now faced,

The overwhelming view was that many communities perceived themselves as being located outside of mainstream society, unable to access justice, disconnected from local democracy and without hope of finding a job or accessing education.

The emerging consensus was that in the light of the riots and the avalanche of negative media reporting that followed, constructive community leadership was now critical.

All agreed that black churches given their huge influence, geography and constituency have a leading role to play in working in partnership with others in urgently responding to the acute challenges faced by communities and the need for a solution focused movement.

All agreed that there was no need to create yet another constituted organisation. What we needed was a loose coalition of organisations formed into a national social movement for social and economic justice that supported the coordination of faith groups, volunteers and community based organisations into a single training and community development movement that could both inspire and empower communities.

Within four days of intense discussion Operation & Recovery was born and within that short period of time a meeting was arranged to take place at Friends meeting House Euston London. Our primary objective was to restore hope and demonstrate that recovery was possible to communities whose optimistic vision of the future had been eroded through a sense of economic and social injustice.  Our single vision was very clear we concluded that it was time for communities to take personal responsibility and come together to take collective social, economic and political action.

Our proposition was that we invited all to help us launch the largest self funded voter registration, voter education and entrepreneurial training programme ever seen in British history. In addition we would support the call for a public inquiry into all suspicious deaths in custody.

Our message focused on four distinct areas and our invitation was to all communities, faith groups, organisations and individuals to work with us in designing and delivering this ambitious programme.
What happened next was quite simply amazing. With four days notice using social media and our existing networks we sent out thousands of emails.  On the night of the meeting 700 people turned up to hear the vision. The endorsement of our mandate was overwhelming with organisations and individuals committing to working alongside us to deliver this unique community empowerment programme.

Speakers such as Neil Jameson form TELCO and Diane Abbot, ( Tory Lord forgot his name), Gwenton Slowley inspirational young man and reformed gangster, Zita Holbourne  of BARAC, poet and activist, Merlin Emmanuel for the Justice for Smiley Culture Campaign and  many many more spoke and welcomed and endorsed the aims of this new and exciting movement for social change.

Operation Hope and Recovery is a loose coalition of organisations such as Black Men In the Community, SACRYD*, East London Citizens, Operation Black Vote among others that seeks work in partnership with individuals and organisations in the co-ordination and delivery of a dynamic political and business community empowerment programme.

And so a unique coalition of community and faith based organisations came together to launch a social justice initiative that intends to deliver political and economic empowerment programmes through the country.

Our aim is to encourage, support and promote a coming together of people and organisations committed to tackling growing level of alienation, democratic disengagement and unemployment.

The empowerment programme will be delivered through a tried and tested cascade training model. We will train trainers to go out and deliver that training in their communities. This training will inspire a new generation of community social activists and entrepreneurs into the largest social, economic action and political empowerment training network ever seen in the UK.  That’s the ambition that’s the goal that the mission. Our inaugural training days and initial rallies will be announced at our next meeting.

We intend to both launch and roll out this training initially in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham.

Our next meeting will take place on the 16th September  6.30pm at Marsham Street Westminster, London . This meeting will focus on recruiting into membership both organisations and committed individuals. You can find out further information and register your free place by visiting our website:

Out of ever crisis comes an opportunity. This is our time to shine and we ask that you join us.

Lee Jasper

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

How many more people have to die in police custody before the question is satisfactorily addressed? - by Richard Sudan

Who polices the police?

Evidently, the answer is that the police (still) police themselves-a status quo that is a strong a symbol of institutional corruption as there ever was.

The news that none of the officers responsible for the welfare of David Emanuel aka Smiley Culture who died while in police custody in March, will face ‘official’ questioning, charges, or suspension will cause anger among many but will not come as a surprise.

The list of individuals who have died in police custody over the last ten years is vast in comparison to the list of officers who have been convicted of any crime.  The latter list contains zero names.

Many will remember the effect of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry many years ago, and the subsequent Macpherson report which concluded that the Metropolitan Police force was institutionally racist.

That was in 1997.

While of course the charges leveled at the Met then were different, the case became symbolic because it united many together with the purpose of holding the police to account for their actions- and that is the point-we are still demanding justice and accountability today.

And we need justice and reform now.  This year we’ve already seen rioting looting in many areas-the scapegoats for which have been the ‘Broken Britian’ and ‘Pure Thuggery’ soundbite tags.

The myth that there is no relationship between the actions of our government both at home and abroad, and the actions of the police force with the unrest, anger, and discontent we are seeing is ludicrous.

The underlying cause which was drowned out by government apologists is poverty.

To accept the government explanation as to the cause social ills is foolish.  Calling the riots are pure thuggery is akin to describing violence as violent.

The phone hacking scandal saga has revealed the level of corruption present within the police force, and to put it politely the bad judgment of Prime Minister Cameron in appointing Andy Coulson.

 Its not society that is broken. It is our political system and the institutions that should serve the people that are broken.

With an unelected government and an unelected House of Lords, public service cuts kicking in, don’t be fooled into looking the other way as to the real cause of the problems we are seeing.

The real problems are not contrary to poplar belief caused by hoodies raiding JJB or by mythical bogeymen in foreign countries with no passport. 

They are caused by individuals in suits and ties that raid the poor to serve the ruling elite.

We all in this together we are told.  Some apparently are more in it than others.

More than ever we need to challenge institutions such as the police, and challenge policy makers in every way possible.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Boris Johnson and the Riots: A vanilla Mayor for a chocolate city.

Boris was named 'Joker of the Year' in the 2008 Lafta awards
I like Boris he makes me laugh most times and then on other occasions he seems completely bonkers; with his blond tousled mane and his penchant for quoting Latin verses or Greek fables.  He has a bright, breezy, infectious personality that makes people smile.

He is a master of communication with the ability to sense the mood of an audience and usually strikes the right chord when addressing a crowd. This allows him to studiously avoid the contentious key political issues of the day, whilst leaving the public satisfied with platitudinous sound bites, photo opportunities and of course a bit of joshing thrown in for good measure.

Watching him work a crowd demonstrates his undoubted charm and unique ability to keep London smiling.

When it comes to media criticism (of which there is very little) Boris has a mesmeric Teflon like quality that has seen off his most determined detractors including me. In politicians these traits are rare but Boris seems to be blessed by the Gods with both in abundance.

Electorally Boris is certainly no joke and Ken Livingstone will have his work cut out for him in the forthcoming Mayoral elections.

However such panache and bonhomie are fine when all the pigs are fed and ready to fly but this acute lack of any real political nous and understanding is brutally revealed in times of crisis.

The genteel Wodehousian laughter subsided this summer and was replaced by sirens, acrid smoke, tragic loss of life and widespread damage to property and the international reputation of London dragged through the mud.

What we saw was a Mayor out of his comfort zone,   unaided by a Mayors Office team who have neither the skills nor understanding to deal, in any effective way, with the huge complexities of policing multicultural London.

The recent riots sparked by the shooting in Tottenham of Mark Duggan were entirely avoidable, and any Mayor who had been paying attention could have and should have recognised that tensions between the black community and the police were at breaking point after a series of high profile deaths in police custody and massive rises in stop and search figures over the last three years.

I can tell you now that had Ken Livingstone been in office the riots in Tottenham would not have occurred and the enormous cost to London and the country at large could have been avoided. 

What I would have advised is that Boris should have   met the Duggan family in an effort to hear their concerns and reassure them that they would be supported in their search for the truth.

However I would have acted earlier and here I am not just referring to recent events. The signs of acute discontent and anger have been there for all to see of the last year.

Boris Johnson and Kit Malthouse should have personally met  the families of  Smiley Culture aka David Emmanuel, Demetre Fraser and Mark Duggan, all London black men who have died this year in suspicious circumstances.

Boris or his office did neither.  His office should have been alive to the fact that meetings about these issues were taking place right across the country as well as in the capital and all were all well attended with standing room only.  He should have understood the significance of the marches and protest meetings.

He did not, because Boris has chosen to ignore the real and authentic voices of London’s black communities.

He should have known that communities were becoming increasingly angry at the injustice of deaths in custody and that this was emerging as a key political issue.

The communications debacle that occurred in Tottenham where the Duggan family and the local community were left in the dark could and should have been avoided. It is imperative in such situations that as much detailed communication and reassurance are provided in real time.

He should have known the historical significance of Tottenham and the sensitivities of any controversial policing incidents taking place in that area.

He or his staff should have convened a community meeting in Tottenham immediately in the aftermath of the Duggan shooting. He should have insisted on senior Metropolitan Police representation and demanded that a full consultations and communication strategy was drawn up involving the Greater London Authority, Community based organisations, the Metropolitan Police Authority The IPCC and the Met Police.

I would have called the local MP David Lammy and ensured I heard his voice and consulted with him and the local council about how best to provide reassurance and hear communities concerns.

Had I been in office I would have convened such a meeting as a matter of course, first with the parties themselves and then with the wider community.  I would have asked for the Officer involved to be suspended pending investigation as is done routinely in the US. As the Mayors representative I would have been at the local demonstration and on the streets talking to people and getting a feel for what needed to be done.

I would have ensured that Tottenham Police and the local Council understood the level of anger and concern and I would have called for the local Superintendent to come back from holiday immediately. I would have consulted with the Black Police Association and sought their help and advice.

Boris Johnson failed to do any of this because he has no real in depth understanding or expertise when it comes to London’s black communities and crucially neither does any of his team.  So, while Boris was on his summer holidays looking for Bullwinkle in the Rocky Mountains, London was under siege. In fact it was only after my live interview with Sky News on the 8th August where I demanded Boris return to the capital that the political penny dropped in the Mayor’s Office and Boris broke his holiday.

During a Mayoralty where multiculturalism has been nothing more than a convenient sound bite, where clear anti racist race equality policy priorities within the GLA, the MPA and the MPS have been significantly downgraded or simply dismissed and where there is no commitment to ensure a diverse range of expertises in the Mayors office core team reflects the hugely multicultural city he seeks to serve, Boris has made grave and costly errors of judgement.

The race equality targets for black police officers have been abandoned and the number of black officers in the MPS is falling as a result. A police service must, if it is to have legitimacy, credibility and be effective in reducing crime and catching criminals, look like the city it serves. Unbelievably Boris Johnson and Kit Malthouse don’t believe that this is a necessary priority for London and so the targets set, have been abolished.

Far from representing all Londoners, Johnson is seeking to largely respond and pander to constituencies in outer London; Boris has become a vanilla Mayor for a chocolate city.

Disparaging “race equality targeted initiatives” and “special interest group pleading” Boris promised to end the era of “racial and religious divisiveness” in London.

In the three years since becoming Mayor, he has destroyed the carefully crafted work undertaken over decades that so improved and enhanced police community relations. That progress now lies in tatters battered on the anvil of political opportunism, murdered by the cynical manipulation of a right wing Mayor and his incompetent monocultural team.

With no senior black advisers on his team Boris was left both ignorant and unsighted. Kit Malthouse, his technocratic Deputy Mayor in charge of the MPS was equally clueless and failed to correctly assess the on going deterioration of relationships between the MPS and London’s black communities even though it was staring him in the face.  I have personally been writing about these issues in depth since May last year and anyone with an ounce of common sense should have realised that someone somewhere should have taken action.

The Mayors Office has a blind spot on the issue of race and in certain parts of London that is no doubt popular electorally, but, and this is a huge but, that has come at an incalculable cost to the city not just in financial terms but has the real potential to set the city on course for a continued and serious aggravation of racial tensions in the next few years.  The news for Boris is that I don’t see things getting better anytime soon.

There is a huge level of anger out there within black and poor communities and the ironic thing is that the vindictive politicisation of rioters’ court cases into show trials with heavy sentences is deepening that anger and alienation.

Boris has no senior equivalent to the position I held as Policy Director for Policing as part of the core. For 8 years as the most senior black political figure in London despite many police challenges there was no such equivalent event: that was not just luck it was precisely because we were able to use our knowledge and expertise to respond effectively to community concerns.

We had a Mayoral team that looked like London and could ensure we were always sighted on these important issues.

London is one of the most diverse cities in the world.

Boris Johnson failures on these issues have been epic. In a multicultural city like London these are not just serious and fundamental errors; they represent a criminal degree of political negligence motivated in large part by short-term electrical populism. This is an outer London agenda that has gained ascendency that is deeply hostile to race equality and multiculturalism. In a city like London such political prejudice and ignorance comes at an enormous cost.

 Lee Jasper