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Contributor: Victor Olusegun Amokeodo
Joyce Sampson:

Pro-Black Community leader or a Self-seeker?

On Tuesday 13 October 1994, prominent(?) Black Tory, Joyce Sampson, announced her defection to the Labour party. Standing alongside the Labour Deputy Leader, John Prescott, at the height of the Tory Party conference, she announced to the gathered press that she had become disenchanted with the Tory party.

Joyce Sampson has, for the last few years, been one of the most conspicuous Black members of the Tory party and for years, she campaigned for the Tory cause, often informing whoever cared to listen that she did not regard the Labour party as the "traditional" party for Black people.

Probably as reward for her inexplicable loyalty she was put on the Tory "approved candidates list" and made the head of the London region of One Nation Forum - an organisation created by the Tory Party to attract ethnic minorities. At one stage, being the only "known" Tory woman of African origin, she almost got so much publicity as to threaten to be regarded as a "Black community leader". This however did not materialise as the One nation Forum, not surprisingly, never really achieved what it was set up to do.

Joyce Sampson's frustration at her inability to attract Black people into the Tory party boiled over when in an interview last year with a Black publication, she harangued Black people, describing them as "sheep" for "unquestioningly following the Labour party". That statement angered the Black community and had the unwitting though expected effect of further distancing her from the community. At the same time, her party members probably realised that she did not have as much pulling power in the Black community as they would have liked. As such, they saw her as dispensable.

For many months leading up to her about-face, her political career seemed to be in limbo. Those who knew her would reveal that she sometimes dropped details about her "burgeoning" party activities like "travelling to Brussels" to address some European parliament meeting or another, but it was obvious that her career was heading for a dead-end.

For one who had so fiercely criticised the Labour party and its large Black following, her about-face is very extraordinary. In order to forestall any suggestion that she was playing the ethnicity card, she managed to relegate, to second place, the Tory neglect of Black people as a reason for leaving the party. But then, while leaving a party that has failed to live up to one's expectation is understandable, joining another for which she had shown so much abhorrence is unbelievable. Perhaps an explanation can be found in the Labour party's decision, shortly before she decamped, to actively discriminate on behalf of its women candidates (women will now fight half of Labour's winnable seats, if the decision is followed, to the letter). There is no doubt that if a principled Ms. Sampson had stood by a small fraction of what she said in her Tory party years, she would never have deigned to join the Labour party. Join some other party, maybe, but certainly not Labour.

The truth is Ms Sampson is only just admitting what most Black people have always known: racism exists everywhere in society and in all parties (and even colour discrimination exists within the Black community), but of the major parties, the Tory party is by far the worst offender. The party is just a step away from ultra right wing, neo-Nazi type organisations and quite a few neo-Nazis seeking respectability have been known to

cross over (not quite an accurate expression in this case) to the Tory party.

The head of the British National Party - John Tyndale - endorsed the Tory party when he said it was the best of the mainstream parties for one to join if one wanted to keep Britain white. And Of course, it is only in the Tory Party at this time that one can have anti-"foreigners", anti-Blacks and avowed racists like (respectively) Michael Portillo and Norman Tebbit, Winston Churchill, and Enoch Powell, in such positions of eminence in the party. And can you imagine any section of the Labour party inviting the like of Jean Marie Le Penn to give a speech without being kicked out? Black people have always known this. Ms Sampson cannot claim only just to have discovered it. If she has only just discovered what everyone else has known all along, then she is not intelligent enough to represent the black community. It is for the aforementioned reasons, and not as a result of sheep-like mentality, that Blacks - even pro-free enterprise Blacks - stick with the Labour Party.

Back to Ms Sampson, it would be tragic if she is ever voted in as an MP on the "ethnic card" after so many insults to the Black community over its support of Labour. That would be too unjust. But then, politics is not always just and one can only guess where Ms Sampson will end up.

Whatever happens to Ms Sampson, as she joins the flock, some business remains unfinished. The Black community is waiting for her apology, and she'd better make it good, make it as public and make it as passionate as the insults which necessitated it.
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