Dawn Butler, the MP for Brent South, has become the first ever elected, female, Black minister in the UK. Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed her as an Assistant Government Whip in the House of Commons yesterday, replacing Siobhain McDonagh MP who was sacked by Brown after publicly calling for a leadership contest.
Butler, pictured here in July with US Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Barack Obama, has won many plaudits and seconded the Queen’s Speech in November last year. Speaking in the Commons about the need to stop demonising young people and to celebrate their achievements, she appealed to young people to become active in politics and said:
“if anybody hearing our speeches today or reading about them tomorrow questions whether politics works, whether it matters, I say to them: cynicism didn’t create the welfare state. Indifference didn’t introduce the minimum wage or bring peace to Northern Ireland. Apathy didn’t end debt slavery for world’s poorest people or give pensioners dignity in their retirement…that is the difference politics can make.”
Commenting on Labour’s relationship with the Black community on the Guardian’s website in the same month, Chuka Umunna, editor of TMP, said:
“There has been much talk of politicians lacking authenticity and – automaton-like – being unable to talk in a way that connects with the person on the street. Step forward Dawn Butler, one of Labour’s two black female MPs, who won many plaudits for doing precisely the opposite when given the chance to second the Queen’s speech in the Commons the other week. Lets see more of that.”
Before taking up her appointment, Butler was the Labour Party’s Vice Chair for Youth.
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