Shamik Das

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

History beckons as Obama begins long walk to Washington after finally beating Hillary

We're on our way to Washington: Jubilant supporters hug Barack Obama at a victory rally in Minnesota

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA made history today by becoming the first black candidate to win the Presidential nomination of a major US party.

To scenes of wild jubilation, Mr Obama proclaimed himself "the Democratic nominee for President of the United States". It was pure theatre, history in the making, a day many of us never thought we would live to see.

Half a century on from Rosa Parks's courageous act of defiance and 40 years after Martin Luther King's assassination, the son of a Kenyan Muslim father and white American mother passed the magic 2,118-delegate winning post late last night following the South Dakota and Montana primaries.

He now has an unassailable lead over Hillary Clinton – 2,154 delegates to 1,919 – but his biggest challenge lies ahead, against the Republican candidate John McCain.

To those watching on this side of the Atlantic, the Illinois senator's success begs the question of whether or not Britain will ever vote for a black or Asian Prime Minister.

Victor: Barack Obama  Vanquished: Hillary Clinton  Challenger: John McCain

At present there are only 15 black and Asian Members of Parliament, a mere two per cent of the 646 MPs in the House of Commons, none of whom are in the Cabinet or anywhere near to challenging for the leadership of their party.

Of these, three are Parliamentary Under Secretaries of State – effectively the third rung of the Ministerial ladder – one is a whip and one a Parliamentary Private Secretary, the lowest branch of the Ministerial tree.

The three Parliamentary Under Secretaries are David Lammy (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills), Parmjit Dhanda (Department for Communities and Local Government) and the first Muslim Minister ever to serve in the British Government, Shahid Malik (Department for International Development).

Ashok Kumar is PPS to Environment Secretary Hilary Benn while Sadiq Khan probably has one of the most important jobs of all; as an assistant whip he is tasked with building consensus on new legislation, which at present involves him working flat out to reach a compromise with backbenchers on the Government’s controversial proposals for 42 days detention without trial for terror suspects.

However, as with Benjamin Disraeli and Margaret Thatcher in the last two centuries – Britain's first non-Christian and first female Prime Ministers – it may well be to the Conservatives that progressives turn this century for the first non-white Prime Minister of Britain.

Adam Afriyie    Barack Obama

In Adam Afriyie, Member of Parliament for Windsor and shadow Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, they posses a man with whom there are many parallels with Senator Obama.

For one, they share the same birthday – August 4th – with Mr Afriyie four years younger than Mr Obama. They also share a similar background, the Windsor MP having an African father, from Ghana, and English mother.

Both of them have tremendous academic credentials and political acumen, possess charm and charisma by the bucket load and, crucially, come across well in the media, in newspapers and on television, have broad appeal and do not "scare" white voters either in mid-America or middle Britain.

For Windsor's finest his time is yet to come, but for Barack Obama the hour is now, destiny is in his hands, history there to be written as the sands of time tick away and November draws ever near.

He's won the battle but will he win the war?

List of black and Asian MPs
Adam Afriyie


Blogger Shamik said...

More comments can be seen on Inside Desi magazine.

26 July, 2008 14:07

Blogger Shamik said...

My article also appears on two African sites: Modern Ghana and Zimbio - blatantly plaigarised but in this instance, I don't really care!

26 July, 2008 14:10


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