Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Barking’

All White in Barking

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 13th May, 2017

InteGreat_BritainLast night I was at the Stratford Picturehouse for a special screening of Marc Isaac’s 2007 documentary, All White in Barking, organised by the City Circle, with which I have been marginally involved for a few years now. The Circle, originally based at Toynbee Hall in Tower Hamlets, provides a safe space for communities to self-critically discuss and debate issues that concern them. According to its founding principles it aims:

i) to empower the Muslim community network to regain the moral and ethical voice of Islam in Britain and to promote this actively in the mainstream British media

ii) To provide a genuine opportunity for strategic alliance building between Muslim and non-Muslim groups

iii) To challenge the belief that there is a conflict between a Muslim and British identity

iv) To channel talent into strategic projects which practically help to put back into wider British society.

All White in Barking 1The City Circle runs a range of outreach programmes, such as feeding the homeless in central London, Saturday schools and regular talks at their new base off the Edgware Road. Currently it is showing a series of films looking at related issues of immigration, integration, race and identity in Britain, “InteGREAT BRITAIN,hence All White in Barking. Though now a decade old, the film still has relevance (by no means only to the borough of Barking & Dagenham) in its exploration of people’s often irrational fears and prejudices regarding other races and religions. Most of it is fly-on-the-wall style reportage, following a small number of central characters, such as the late middle-aged white couple who suddenly find Albanian and African neighbours living on either side and have to be coaxed into having anything to do with them, or the elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor living with his much younger Nigerian “carer”. The dialogue is at times shocking, at others hilarious. At least one of the people featured never faces up to the new multicultural reality and moves to Canvey Island.

When the film was made, there were 12 BNP councillors in Barking & Dagenham. All of them subsequently lost their seats, though I was saddened to see that there is a BNP candidate standing in Dagenham & Rainham constituency in next month’s general election. The BNP wins were a wake-up call not only to the Labour Party that has dominated the area for decades but also to local community organisations, and I believe the situation has improved a lot since then. Barking & Dagenham is, if anything, even more diverse than it was a decade ago, but there does seem to be more interaction between communities, not least among the young. But that does not mean everything is hunky-dory. The central message of All White in Barking is as relevant today as it was back in 2007: confront your inner fears and prejudices, engage with those who are different and open your minds.

Advertisements

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

We Don’t Want Nick Griffin in East London

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 17th November, 2009

The deluded voters of North West England who sent BNP leader Nick Griffin to Brussels as one of their MEPs in June must be disappointed that he has chosen to express his deep commitment to the area by putting forward his candidacy for the Westminister parliamentary seat of Barking in East London just five months later. Talk about carpet-bagging. The absurd thing is that the BNP is the official opposition to Labour on Barking and Dagenham borough council. They got in there not just because they capitalised on Labour’s failure to tackle some of the real problems in the area, but also because they shamelessly borrowed Liberal Democrat tactics of presenting themselves as community politicians, knocking on doors, seemingly caring about bread-and-butter issues, while keeping some of their more scary members and supporters of the streets. Could they really not find someone local to fight this parliamentary seat for them? Instead, they are going to parachute in their Great Leader, presumably in the hope that they will get lots of media attention. Probably they will, though it may not be helpful to their cause. Along with millions of other people, I watched Nick Griffin on Question Time the other week and was surprised, not by his deviousness and inconsistency, but that he came across as such a plonker.

When Oswald Mosley tried to woo the East End for his crypto-fascists he got the rough reception he deserved, and Nick Griffin deserves the same. It is also essential that all of the other parties, including the Liberal Democrats, choose strong candidates to fight this seat, not just to show the BNP leader up in hustings but also to give the disillusioned voters of Barking someone worthwhile to support.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 16 Comments »