Ben Bradley MP
Dr King passed long ago, but his dream endures, and not only in the USA. People of colour endured, and continue to endure, vicious racism here in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. It is a reality that some of what Robin Day rightly and memorably called “here today and gone tomorrow politicians” are still reluctant to accept.
And it is a reality that those who, consciously or otherwise, enjoy white privilege are most reluctant to take on board. Which brings us to the increasingly gaffe-prone Ben Bradley, the Tory MP who represents the unfortunate voters of Mansfield: Bradley has attempted to appropriate the words of MLK. This has been a campaign that has developed not necessarily to his advantage. Not after Dr King’s daughter Berenice King got involved.
Dr King addresses the crowd, August 1963
Bradley took an abbreviated form of the “I have a dream” speech and added the singularly dishonest coda “His point was that skin colour doesn’t matter. We’re equal. Now you want to define people by their physical characteristics?” Sadly, no man is of perfect courage, and Bradley later deleted his Tweet. Unfortunately for him, Ms King took a copy.
Her response was scathing. "My father’s point and central to his beliefs, teachings and activism (per his speeches/books) was this: We cannot condone racism, but must eradicate it as one of the pervasive, systemic, overt and destructive Triple Evils, with militarism and poverty being the other two”. And there was more.
“To that end, we should [use] his words, not to ignore racism, but to stop the type of suppression of Black votes that’s being attempted in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan right now. And to end health, policing and housing disparities driven by racism. Eradicate racism”. Bradley has, it seems, chosen to ignore or at least dismiss racism.
Worse, he has attempted to deflect on the issue of poverty, another societal evil that Dr King identified. Recently, he claimed “At one school in Mansfield 75% of kids have a social worker, 25% of parents are illiterate. The estate is the centre of the area’s crime. One kid lives in a crack den, another in a brothel. These are the kids that most need our help, extending [Free School Meals] doesn’t reach these kids”. Then it got worse.
After someone suggested flippantly “£20 cash direct to a crack den and brothel really sounds like the way forward with this one”, Bradley responded “That’s what FSM vouchers in the summer effectively did”. He later deleted his Tweet and claimed he was the victim.
Now, Ben Bradley has once again hit the delete button too late. He doesn’t have a clue what Dr King was about. And he would not have reached as far as King’s ankles.
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