Black People React To Tories' General Election Landslide: 'Britain's Future Looks Dangerous To Me'

Boris Johnson's history of racist remarks does not appear to have put voters off – a worrying fact for community members in south London.

“We’re going backwards. It’s like we’re in the 1960s.”

A worried Janet Scott is talking to HuffPost UK in Brixton, south London, the morning after Boris Johnson led the Conservatives to a landslide victory with the party’s best result since the 1980s.

“The future in Britain looks dangerous to me,” she said. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen.

“It’s unfortunate. I’m not happy but I knew it would happen.”

Johnson’s journey to victory has been dogged by accusations of racism. Offensive comments he had written, spoken or signed off in his time both as a journalist and as a politician included referring to Black people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” – comments that sparked disappointment and concern among Black communities. He also compared women wearing the niqab veil with letterboxes, and served in a government that oversaw the Windrush scandal.

Yet on the whole the fact that Johnson has repeatedly made racist remarks does not seem to have resonated with the electorate, who returned his government with its biggest majority in 32 years.

It will be hard, then, for some not to feel that voters have either endorsed or dismissed Johnson’s attitudes.

There was a general feeling of disenchantment among those who spoke to us in Brixton and – perhaps more to the point – those who didn’t want to. One passer-by was so annoyed by talk of the election that he shouted an expletive over his shoulder while rushing off to work, and referred to the Conservatives as “bastards”.

Another woman began discussing her views on the general election, only to conclude: “It doesn’t matter what I have to say because politicians don’t care and are gonna do what they want to regardless.”

More people waved us off, citing a disinterest in speaking about politics. A few added that they didn’t even bother voting. “What’s the point?” someone asked.

“Racism towards Black people isn't an issue for some reason. That's very worrying but I think the right wing is all over Europe right now.”

- Janet Scott

Following an increase in hate crime in the wake of the EU referendum, the rise of far-right groups, and the Conservatives’ notorious hostile environment policies, some Black people had told HuffPost UK of their plans to leave Britain in the event of a Tory victory – a feeling dubbed “Blaxit”.

One voter criticised the media for failing to call Johnson out on his anti-Black racist statements. Janet echoed these concerns.

“It’s fascinating,” she said. “Racism towards Black people isn’t an issue for some reason. I see it plainly.

“That's very worrying but I think the right wing is all over Europe right now. So, for example, Donald Trump is allowed to say certain things; he’s allowed to get away with it because they kind of laugh it off like it’s not that important.

“I didn’t see anyone on TV talking about it – maybe because they won’t let you but it’s clearly an issue.

“If I had the money I wouldn’t live in this country. I was born here but they’re making it plain you don’t fit in and you’re the lower ranks.”

Boris Johnson pictured last month.
Boris Johnson pictured last month.

One person planning to pack her bags in the event of a Tory majority was writer and podcaster Marianne Miles.

Marianne told HuffPost UK she would now move forward with these plans.

“I have no confidence in this government ensuring a safe society for all citizens,” she said. “After Brexit more of our rights will be eroded and life in the UK will become insufferable unless you’re a millionaire.”

Back in Brixton, Leroy Wilkinson told HuffPost UK: “I voted Labour and it didn’t come through. I kind of thought that would happen.

“It’s just bullshit, really. Boris Johnson hasn’t really rectified it to where we feel any better about the things he’s said [about Black people]. I just don’t like him. Every time I see him, I think he’s a waste of time, really.”

Describing the outcome as “disappointing”, Lorna said: “At the end of day, I see that since the Conservatives got us into this mess with Brexit, they should be the ones to get us out.”

“I’m hoping that they will do the best things for the country, at the end of the day, and for everybody,” she said.

“Very few politicians can you trust – but I don’t trust Boris Johnson. I don’t thinks he communicates or empathises very well with people or the needs of down to earth people.”

Beverly Watson, 57, told HuffPost UK: “I voted for Labour because I don’t like Boris Johnson but I’m not surprised that the Conservatives won. I’ve never liked Boris Johnson from the moment he came into politics. He has never answered a question yet.

“If you ask Boris Johnson a question and he dances around the topic. He’s not trustworthy. I think everyone’s just fed up at this point and just wants something to happen with Brexit – are we coming out of the EU or not? And when?

“I’m not really I’m not in love with Corbyn but I haven’t heard him lie as much as Boris. To me, he’s the better alternative out of the two.”

But Maxine Rose-Evans, with a bounce of optimism, told HuffPost UK that she hopes the prime minister acts in the best interest of the people.

“The Labour Party needed to do a little bit more than what they have been doing based on the clarity around Brexit,” she said. “It’s clear that the election was about Brexit. Being that it has been prolonging for such a long time, the stability of England is very much at stake and the quality of life – and where do we go from here? Those are the questions.

“There are other issues that are more important than Brexit, of course – health care, youth development. [...] It’s a lot but hopefully Boris Johnson will do his best along with his fellows.”

'People made their voice heard through the ballot boxes': Christiana in Brixton.
'People made their voice heard through the ballot boxes': Christiana in Brixton.
HuffPost UK

Though she was “not happy” with the outcome, Christiana echoed Maxine’s views conceding that democracy has taken its course.

“People made their voice heard through the ballot boxes,” she said.

“Labour’s perspective, the Marxist perspective, doesn’t work in this 21st century. Twice they did it and twice it didn’t work. Labour should think about what they should do next but not this far left perspective – it doesn’t work.

“It is a good idea that Jeremy Corbyn steps down – he should’ve done this long ago. I’m not interested in either Labour or the Conservatives. That’s why I voted for the Green Party.”


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