Calls for inquiry and apology, resignation demands and accusations of ‘political gameplaying’ in Thanet racism row

Aram Rawf

A district councillor is calling for the issue of racism in Thanet to be raised in Parliament with a view to mounting an inquiry – but he has been accused of ‘political game-playing’ by South Thanet’s MP while another councillor has demanded he resigns.

Cllr Aram Rawf, from Broadstairs, says MP Craig Mackinlay must take urgent action to raise the issue, take part in a virtual public meeting alongside the councillor and apologise for downplaying the amount of racism on the isle.

Cllr Rawf said: “I have presented Mr Mackinlay with evidence of the racism present in our community — a racism which is deeply affecting the lives of many of his constituents. It is his duty as our MP to take action.

“Mr Mackinlay has said he can’t launch an investigation into racism here because as an MP he hasn’t got the resources. But he could undertake all the above I’m suggesting without paying a penny. I’m quite happy to organise the virtual meeting and film his apology. Raising issues in Parliament doesn’t cost him anything and is part of his job.”

Craig Mackinlay

But Mr Mackinlay has branded the request as political game-playing, saying: “I thank Cllr Rawf for his suggestions but on this important issue I will not be indulging South Thanet Labour Party’s political gameplaying.”

Earlier this month Cllr Rawf, who is a Labour member of Thanet District Council and Broadstairs Town Council, sent Mr Mackinlay (Conservative) a letter with a dossier of examples of racism in Thanet.

The letter followed comments by the MP that he had seen no evidence of racism in Thanet.

Cllr Rawf said: “I look forward to hearing from him soon with a view to constructive engagement. We cannot allow the running sore of racism to continue afflicting our community.  Too many people are getting hurt. Too many people’s lives are being made miserable. We must act now.”

Cllr Stuart Piper

Cllr Rawf’s comments on racism and Cllr Everitt’s statements about Thanet’s Black Lives Matter marches, have angered Thanet Independent group leader Stuart Piper who, at a council meeting last week, called for them to resign.

Cllr Piper said: “I do have an issue with the response to demonstrations in Thanet in defiance of Covid-19 regulations on public gatherings.”

He said Cllr Everitt’s previous comments that Thanet’s Black Lives Matter marches had been ‘dignified and orderly’  were at odds with the ‘risk’ people were taking, adding: “I would have thought a leader of this council, regardless of your own opinion, you would have roundly condemned these marches because of the unjustifiable risk people took. Covid-19 is a serious issue, it’s destructive and sometimes lethal.”

He questioned whether the same backing would be given to other demonstrations, such as women’s pension rights, in the same circumstances and said it made a nonsense of gratitude shown for all care workers who have been on the frontline.

He added: “Leader, you have chosen to support a councillor in his efforts to educate Thanet about – I quote – widespread racism in Thanet – unquote. This statement was made without the provision of evidence and I am astounded he did it and more so that you welcomed such a reckless comment that will do nothing for social cohesion in Thanet and is a slur on a great many people.

“I think the councillor should resign and wonder where that would leave the leader and should he join him?”

In response Cllr Everitt said he agreed with concerns over demonstrations being held during the pandemic but noted that they were ‘lawful and not stopped by police.’

He added: “It would not be appropriate for the leader of the council to join a demonstration during a health emergency, nevertheless they happened.”

Cllr Everitt said Cllr Rawf had presented evidence of racism in response to the request from MP Craig Mackinlay for evidence.

He added: “I do not accuse Thanet of being excessively racist but there is an issue of racism in this country and there is an issue of racism in Thanet and pretending it does not exist at all is not helpful to anyone.”

Photo Malcolm Kirkaldie

The Black Lives Matter marches in Thanet, organised by People Dem Collective, took place in June as part of global protests highlighting racism. Both marches were peaceful and no arrests were made during the events.

Former councillor Ian Driver was later arrested and charged with seven counts of criminal damage relating to anti-racist graffiti. Mr Driver told The Isle of Thanet News that what he did ‘was the right thing’ to challenge racism but he apologised to the BLM movement if his actions affected them and said he was sorry for the distress caused to his family.

27 Comments

  1. Is anyone surprised at residents being accused of racism? Yes it exists and will remain until it is made plain that there is one law for both English borne natives and new migrants.

    Currently TDC has a policy of not applying the law alike to both groups with litter and fly tipping being accepted from the east European migrants but native population being penalised.

    When I moved to Cliftonville I paid TDC to remove furniture and followed instructions as to putting it out but received a threatening letter of enforcement 2 days later. When I complained about fly tipping by migrants i was told “we can’t do anything as they don’t speak English “. No recycling by migrants so TDC say OK we will make it optionalook!

    Before complaining about racism TDC coucillors should get their act together.

  2. Craig Macinlay has missed the point . ‘Uncle Mack’ was probably a very nice man but he was upholding a reprehensible practice and in removing his stature we acknowledge that.

  3. Clearly the toxicity within TDC remains – despite all the changes of players.

    It used to be only political back-biting – now racial back-biting has been added to the mix.

    When are the petty-minded, sensitive souls that have been elected to TDC going to put their personal squabbles aside and start working to improve the local services for which the council is responsible instead of publicly parading of their own personal egos and agendas ?

  4. Having been fortunate enough to have been able to have traveled the world many times and met some wonderful people of many backgrounds and colours some of whom I still communicate with. I can honestly say that the UK is one of the most tolerant countries in the world. Those I have met on my travels have told that they enjoyed visiting the UK and they had no problems. I was surprised how much some countries hate their neighbouring country.
    It’s strange to me that if we are considered to be racist why so many want to come and live here.

    • Indeed you’re so right, I travel a lot also, I really don’t see a mayor problem here in thanet, my are there are many respectfully people from different background and they’re marvellous citezens and very quiet, common Labour stop magnifying something that really it’s not a big problem here.

    • Yes, if you live in a bubble of your own making, you won’t hear anything to the contrary of what you hold to be true.

    • Ann – like you I have widely travelled but not for leisure. Work only and the more dangerous places, eg Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea. Delivery of humanitarian aid in Sudan and they decide to take pot shots at us using machine gun on back of camel!!! In the poorer regions, Most of those I met had one principle aim, to get to IK. However, those that ran these countries needed their take from the backs of the abject poor. Brown envelopes for customs clearance!!!! The aid was for free to aid their poorest displaced citizens living in plastic tent in 50c. Three times arrested for standing up to them!! I do not live in a bubble and have seen what real life is about. My heart went out to street people of Khartoum who were mostly South Sudanese and detested by Muslim North people. That is raw racism
      I suggest some people digest my experiences..

  5. All of these comments are laudable but as usual they miss the point.Ask any member of the ethnic minority what they want they will tell you,they want an end to rascism and discrimination in the present, in real time. Trying to to put right what took place in the past by removing statues And museum exhibits is a futile gesture that won’t achieve anything.

  6. Can an area that helped elevate a refugee from a war torn area into a respected District Councillor and representative of the people really be that racist?

    I’m sure there are people in Thanet that are racist. There are morons in every part of the country and every part of the world but trying to downtalk the entire area is self defeating and just wrong.

  7. Thanet has always been a haven for asylum seekers way back to the 16 and 17 hundreds when the Flemish and Dutch protestants were escaping oppression from the catholics (see the Flemish gabled buildings at Drapers homes in Margate, which they set up. This has continued over the centuries with more recently the refugees from (both sides)of the war in the Baltics, the niddle East and Africa. Most of these people have set up businesses and integrate well. However there are a relatively small number who do not, and become antisocial, criminal and general troublemakers. It is not racist to dislike this section of the community. Thanet is generally a very cosmopolitan community and has been since the Viking and Roman invasions at Pegwell 2,000 years ago. Mr Rawf and others should remember they was actually elected by people in Thanet, so he has not really suffered racism. He has suffered dislike for his attitudes and political leanings,but this is common to anyone in politics, or in any position where decisions have to be made. This is normal debate and freedom of expression, not racism. I could be regarded as racist because I don’t like most French people, but I also have a few French friends as well. Racism is a 2 way street, many black and coloured people are very anti white English which is racist, and to allow BLM but criminalise anyone who says “all lives matter” or “white lives matter too” is the height of hypocrisy. Equality of opportunity is what matters, whoever you are, and in general that exists, some people are prepared to put in the effort and some want it handed to them without making any effort.

  8. Actually I think not liking most French people is racist, unless it means “Most of the French people I’ve met have not been nice people”.

    • I have several french friends, and even they think the french are arrogant depending on where in France. Racist towards the french? Are you having a laugh?

  9. I would be a lot more supportive of those who hold that we should always act lawfully and not do things that are contrary to the well being of society and property, if the government and police force, who are meant to uphold the law followed their own precepts.
    Perhaps it has missed the attention of those celebrating the DCO decision over Manston, that due process and the weighing up of evidence by an impartial tribunal was overturned on a political whim.
    Perhaps it may also have been forgotten that police officers, yes police officers, took a selfie of two dead murdered women who were BAME and that another set of police officers stopped a car and handcuffed two medal winning athletes, leaving a baby in the car, while carrying out a stop and search, on the grounds that they too were BAME and acting ‘suspiciously’.
    If anyone here says there is no problem, they need to think again and hard.

    • Are you claiming that police in UK NEVER carry out stop and search on white people who they perceive as ”acting suspiciously”…?

  10. Sadly I think a lot of comments on here are evidence of racism in Thanet. Discussions about refugees wanting to come here are not relevant to this or is eastern European fly tipping. There is racism everywhere and it is systematic. To deny that is racist in itself. Thank you to Aram for standing up and calling our MP out. For anyone interested in educating themselves and others and becoming actively anti racist @verydayracism is a good resource.

  11. Look at all those BLM people marching and breaking the rules, I am so shocked as a right whinger that I must go to the beach, get drunk and fight.

    • What evidence do you have to support your unsubstantiated sweeping generalization that everyone who goes to the beach,gets drunk,and fights,is right-wing? What do you think ”right-wing” actually means?

  12. Evidence of racism, prejudice, bigotry is all around us. MY maxim is: If whatever someone said, or did in the past is considered unacceptable, offensive, and racist today, then it should not be allowed, and be removed! So get rid of Uncle Mack, because what he did is unacceptable today, and would not be allowed!

    • And how are people from the past,now long since dead,supposed to have known that what they did in their lifetimes – which was legal and socially acceptable at the time – was going to be unacceptable/illegal far in the future? Your argument seems rather absurd…

      • Read my post again! It says if what they said or did is offensive or unacceptable today, then remove it, because what they did or said is offensive! Would you like to see statues of mass murdering NAZI’s erected in Germany? Think about it!

    • Could a local historian please tell me which Leopold was commemorated by the Ramsgate street name? Was it Leopold I, who visited in 1835? Thanks.

  13. Olde saying,

    “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.”

    James

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