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JIS News

Hopes for an increased Jamaican presence at Westminster following Thursday’s General Election in Britain were shattered, with only Labour Party MP, Diane Abbott, being re-elected.
Abbott, the now veteran Labour representative of Hackney North and Stoke Newington in London, first elected in 1987, romped home to an easy victory. However, her compatriot Dawn Butler succumbed to boundary changes, failing in her challenge for the newly constituted Brent Central seat, an area of heavy Jamaican population with communities like Harlesden, Stonebridge and Wembley.
Butler was defeated by Sarah Teather of the Liberal Democrats, previously the youngest member of Parliament and one who has lobbied tirelessly for the Caribbean community on various issues, including the Air Passenger Duty.
Butler secured 18,681 votes to Teather’s 20,026. The real loss is to the Caribbean community, as Butler was a rising star in the Labour Party and served as Minister for Young Citizens and Youth Engagement, with promise of a promotion in a new Labour administration.
The Conservatives went into the elections with no incumbent Jamaican MPs, but had responded to community pressures and positioned several candidates in winnable seats, including Shaun Bailey in Hammersmith and Wilfred Emmanuel Jones (The Black Farmer) in Chippenham. However, they both failed in their bids. Bailey secured 17,261 votes to 20,810 for Labour’s Andy Slaughter. Wilfred Emmanuel Jones polled 21,500 to 23,970 for Duncan Hames of the Liberal Democrats.
In Bermondsey and Old Southwark in London, Loanna Morrison fought valiantly to gain a 4.1 percentage swing for the Tories, but could only manage third place. Despite increasing the Conservatives’ share of the vote by 17 per cent, she was unable to come to terms with the experience and popularity of the winner, Simon Hughes of the Liberal Democrats.
A first timer at the polls, Morrison who was born in Kingston, was in an upbeat but reflective mood when she spoke with JIS News today.
“You have to take it as it comes. I respect the people’s decision, and I have to respect the way they cast their votes. We had a pretty tough fight and, even though the area has a lot of ethnic minorities, I was not as well known as my two main opponents,” she admitted.
However she felt that her hard work has paid off, and says she will stick with the constituency and, hopefully, win next time.
She expressed surprise that Bailey and Jones were not elected, given the high profiles they took into the polls.
“I thought they would have been there. They are really good candidates, but they might have been affected by the Liberal Democrats’ Clegg factor (The Liberal Democrats had an outstanding surge in the polls following leader Nick Clegg’s performance in the Leaders’ TV debates),” she said.
On the fact that there will be only one person of Jamaican descent in the new parliament, Morrison said more members of the Jamaican community should get involved in the voting process.
“Jamaicans generally reside in strong Labour areas that are usually in need of regeneration. We suffer from serious social issues, but we remain fixed in our voting patterns. I think we need more diversity in the vote, so we can try and change the status quo,” she suggested.
Jamaicans are widely represented at the local level, but with those elections being held jointly with Thursday’s general election, the results will not be known until Saturday.
With the Conservatives winning 306 seats, Labour 258 and the Liberal Democrats 57, Westminster is in the state of a hung parliament, the first time since 1974.
Morrison said she would prefer to see David Cameron lead a minority government, giving his policies their own platform.
“I would prefer that situation, with an early return to the polls. The quicker the administration can get its policies going, the better chance there is of getting a clear mandate from the people,” she said.