Shortly after the British people had voted to quit the European Union, back in the summer of 2016, I chanced to meet a young African lady in Lewisham, south-east London.
She was articulate, vivacious and intelligent, and seemed to have a grasp of the issues of the day. After a few comments about the situation in her South African homeland, she shocked me by saying that she had just voted for 'Leave' in the referendum.
Although Loretta knew and accepted the arguments that the country would be better off remaining inside the EU, she thought that as Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and other advocates of Leave, seemed always to have a quip and a laugh, it might be rather jolly to travel with them on their adventure.
Two elderly ladies of my acquaintance, both born in Jamaica and now in their 90s, were inclined to vote the same way. They did so because they wanted to "keep out the immigrants". These ladies were of an age to have come here on the Empire Windrush--the first ship to bring West Indian immigrants to Britain following appeals from various UK departments that were short of qualified labour--and to have known the difficulties of the struggle for survival and recognition.
Surely, they could have more compassion for their successors. That was the point. After a life-time of working towards acceptance within the national community they felt they could share 'traditional' British sentiments--such as being hostile to immigrants. They were now among the 'haves' who had something they could deny to others. Yet these were kindly people who in their personal lives would not dream of being hostile to anyone.
Hardly anybody wanted the nastiness that has come into the national body politic. With the entry into the fray of right-wing agitators, the press (accurately described by my colleague Baffour Ankomah in the February 2019 edition of the New African) and those bent on violent comment (if not quite yet violent actions), the 'usual suspects'--ethnic minorities, women and those of cosmopolitan outlook ("citizens of nowhere" as Prime Minister Theresa May scoffed)--have found themselves in the firing-line. It will get worse as the wreckers seek scapegoats to blame for what they themselves have brought about.
Deplorable treatment of Abbott
The treatment of Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary, on the BBC flagship television programme Question Time was deplorable.
The credibility of this once-treasured institution has been creaking for some time...