I had a great time at Labour’s Conference which has just ended in Brighton.
It is always good to meet friends in the Labour “family” but I was especially pleased to meet the team on the Labour BAME desk.
I had a really uplifting discussion with these wonderful women.
I went and introduced myself, explaining that I was from South Africa and although – obviously – white, asked if I could join BAME Labour.
They were a little surprised, but replied that it was open to all supporters. I replied that I understood this, but said that as someone who was born in Africa, with some of my family having been born in Africa and having worked on Africa all my life, I wondered if I could join as a BAME member.
They thought for a moment then asked which part of “Black, Asian and minority ethnic” group I fell under.
I said that as a South African, and although clearly white, I did feel that I was a minority ethnic group.
They replied: “well, in that case you are welcome to join!”
I was elated and relieved. The colour of my skin was not an issue.
I told them how pleased I was. But I went on to say that I knew that people who were visibly African or Asian faced different threats and abuse than I did.
I respected their need to meet, discuss and raise these problems together.
So, while I said I would support them, I would not join. They thanked me for my backing and we left on the best of terms.