The ‘Obama effect’ comes here too


by Sunny
31st March, 2009 at 10:15 am    

I’ve highlighted in the past how the election of Obama had an impact on education achievement amongst black kids in America, and sent many in the fashion industry on a scramble to find more black models. Apparently, the symbolic effect of his election applies here too.

The Hansard Society’s sixth Audit of Political Engagement, published today, indicates that an ‘Obama effect’ may be developing among British black and ethnic minorities (BMEs):

- 41% of BMEs agree that ‘when people like me get involved in politics, they really can change the way that the country is run’ compared to 31% of whites – a 10% increase since last year’s Audit
- 42% of BMEs are ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ interested in politics –a 15% increase since last year’s Audit
- 43% think the present system of governing works well compared to 32% of whites – the first time in six annual Audits that BME respondents are more optimistic than whites
- 82% think voting is an effective way of having an impact on how Britain is run compared to 71% of whites
- 92% think voting is an important part of being a good citizen compared to 86% of whites
- 28% feel they have influence over local decision-making compared to 25% of whites – at national level the figures are 18% versus 14%

Interesting, that suddenly black and brown ppl here feel more empowered by the symbolic election of Obama too. Who says symbols don’t matter? I’d like to see how these numbers broke down from people of Indian origin (more likely to be middle-class and high earners) and those of Sri Lankan, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin.


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  1. pickles

    New blog post: The ‘Obama effect’ comes here too http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4022


  2. » The Obama effect in the UK Talk Islam

    [...] PP.) [...]




  1. King King — on 31st March, 2009 at 11:11 am  

    So basically BME people are better and more attentive citizens than whites? Nick Cohen will be disappointed. A massive conspiracy within the polling companies, I wonder?

  2. MaidMarian — on 31st March, 2009 at 12:36 pm  

    ‘In addition, BME respondents are more likely to feel they have influence over decisionmaking in both their local area and in national politics, they are more likely than average to think that voting is an effective means by which to have an impact and they are more likely to think it is important to express their opinion publicly.’ [From p53 of the report Sunny links to]

    Maybe, but isn’t another interpretation of that that BME people have a greater interest in reducing political discussion to identity issues? Moreover, that by expressing their identity beefs publicly is a route to being indulged?

    This seems to be reinforced at p54 of the report.

    ‘If there is an Obama factor at play it would also suggest that representative visibility matters a very
    great deal.’

    That’s a euphemism for race-based quotas, isn’t it?

    Of course, it could indeed be, as pointed out at (1) that the sample provided a number of good BME citizens, hardly a bad thing at all.

    But I just wonder whether some of this is a bit close to the identity politics which has done so much to fracture consensus over the past ten years.

  3. Sunny — on 31st March, 2009 at 2:54 pm  

    Maybe, but isn’t another interpretation of that that BME people have a greater interest in reducing political discussion to identity issues?

    It is arguable, though probably true for many, that they see their main concerns through identity based issues. Now, that’s not entirely surprising, given that those are the issues they’ll feel the majority isn’t doing anything on (whereas in issues of housing, crime etc they might feel their voice is being represented through the majority anyway).

    But furthermore, my experience is that most people who get involved in politics through identity politics then expand to also include other remits, because they start getting familiar with the political system.

  4. damon — on 31st March, 2009 at 3:25 pm  

    Forgive me for jumping in here with a YouTube of Stokely Carmichael back in the 60′s, but I tried to talk about this on another website that was about saw itself as left wing and progressive as Pickled Politics – but I just ”hit the wall”.
    There was no way those people were going to talk about the Black Panthers and America in the late 60′s – especially with someone who was white and English and had some reservations as to what Carmichael was saying.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLLsn1f7Tdc
    ”We need a black united front” was the call back then.
    I’d just have liked to talk it over, but on that website called the ”Billy Bragg Forums” it wasn’t possible, and being called a ”racist” was the more likely outcome.

    I argued that what Carmichael was saying should have been the beginning of a discussion for anti-racists today, but for most of them, it was a no-go area.

  5. Leon — on 31st March, 2009 at 4:15 pm  

    But furthermore, my experience is that most people who get involved in politics through identity politics then expand to also include other remits, because they start getting familiar with the political system.

    Yep I’ve got some data that shows exactly that.

  6. fug — on 1st April, 2009 at 12:08 am  

    not sure if the inter south asian ethnic breakdown would reveal anything we would not be shameful of.

    rather than crass numbers id like to know about the wind obama may have put in the sails of real naderesque activism from pickled sector in the US.

    most people animated by obama arent really relavent to politics, at least yet. hopeful as the effect is, isnt it still sheepish?

  7. fug — on 1st April, 2009 at 12:11 am  

    interesting uk poll might be to guage uk south asian affection and awareness for the all-india level political leaders, and folks like arundhati roy.

    i beleive they are still more relavent than the keith vaz’s and baroness ‘tory government with ban khat’ ‘ s of our rather dull present situation.

  8. Sunny — on 1st April, 2009 at 3:32 am  

    id like to know about the wind obama may have put in the sails of real naderesque activism from pickled sector in the US.

    Do you usually smoke marijuana and post comments on here fug?

    I haven’t smoked that kind of good shit for a while – lemme know where you get it from, yeah?

    damon: There was no way those people were going to talk about the Black Panthers and America in the late 60’s – especially with someone who was white and English and had some reservations as to what Carmichael was saying.

    What’s the question? Happy to try and respond…

  9. billericaydicky — on 1st April, 2009 at 8:26 am  

    The mistake made here is in the second sentence, gthere is no such thing as a BME constituency. the concept of BME or is it BAME (Black,Asian Minority Ethnic) is of course a political and financial fraud that has nearly run out of steam and is staggering on with Operation Black Vote.

    Let us, as Lloyd Grossman says, look at the evidence. Of the fifty one councillors on Tower Hamlets council more than half are Bangladeshi spread across Labour/Lib Dem/Tory and Respect. This is the highest proportion of any ethnic minority in the country because Bangladeshis are highly political as are other groups from South Asia.

    A mile north in Hackney there are a handful of Asians and for a borough with one of the highest proportions of Africans and African/Caribbeans in the country again just a couple. These last two groups simply do not get involved in politics which of course gives the lie to the OBV claim that we need racial quotas and all black lists to get a balance that “reflects” our vibrant, inclusive, multicultural society.

    Also uninvolved are Chinese/Vietnamese/Tamils/Turks/Arabs I could go on and on but I think you all get the picture. My own ethnic group the Irish have traditionally been highly political particularly in America and Australia but also dominating council politics in cities like Liverpool and Manchester and in London boroughs such as Camden and Tower Hamlets. There are still more Orthodox Jews on Hackney than any other group.

    What this report should be doing is looking at why some groups are massively over represented and some are not even involved.

    Damon,

    I can see where you are coming from about black nationalism. I have always argued that it is the mirror image of white nationalism and just as racist and divisive. I am a bit surprised that you can’t get onto Billy Bragg’s site as Iknow him and he is a good guy raising a lot of money for the anti fascist movement. He is also politically naive and might tend to see any criticism of black people as racist, a view which doesn’t have much currency these days but does linger in certain quarters.

    The whole Black Panthers Stokely Carmichael saga was imported over here in the early seventies by, amongst others, that forerunner of Lee Jasper Darcus Howe. The theory of blacks liberating themselves from white oppression was expanded by the “intellectual” Howe to anyone who isn’t white is black and all form part of a group that must leberate themselves from white oppression.

    This expressed itself in article by Howe in Race Today that when a black youth mugs a white person they are carrying out a revolutionary act and helping to liberate themselves and that when black youth refused to go to school they were rejecting imperialist brain washing. All of this stuff which nowadays would be illegal was funded by the guilt tripped World Council of Churches.

    When it came to playing the system Howe turned out to be an amateur. With the emergence of the Livingstone GLC in the eighties a whole range of black nationalist/loony left groups and individuals began to emerge. The ninties saw the emergence of groups like the National Assembly Against Racism and the black leadership liune intensified with Jasper actually calling all white anti fascists racists. I have the e-mail.

    With Livingstone as Mayor the coffers and the flood gates opened. Millions were poured into schemes to “redress” the legacy of slavery which had caused “Post Traumantic Slavery Syndrome” which caused African Caribbean males to commit crimes out of all proportion to their numbers. If you used that as the theme of a play at The National there would be an outcry but it was funded by Livingstone.

    But, as they say, all good things come to an end. First with Kumar Murshid in Tower Hamlets and then with Jasper and now the black nationalist/politically correct tide is receding never, hopefully, to come in again. The legacy of all this is of course a BNP core of support that it is going to be very difficult to hack into. Thats enough for now, time for breakfast and and then a bit more blogging elsewhere.

  10. Jai — on 1st April, 2009 at 10:01 am  

    interesting uk poll might be to guage uk south asian affection and awareness for the all-india level political leaders, and folks like arundhati roy.

    i beleive they are still more relavent than the keith vaz’s and baroness ‘tory government with ban khat’ ‘ s of our rather dull present situation.

    Not true. This may be accurate to some degree in relation to the older generation(s), but as for the UK-born 2nd-gen Indian crowd, apart from a general high-level awareness of the situation most of them don’t give a damn about political leaders back in India and are very much focused on life here in the West.

    Except when it comes to Bollywood, of course. Or cricket. But Indian politics ? Not really.

  11. Shafiq — on 1st April, 2009 at 10:26 am  

    I agree with Jai. My knowledge of Indian politics goes as far as to know that Congress is the Nehru/Ghandi leftist-leaning party and that BJP is the right-wing Hindu nationalist party. And this is considered to be more than the average 2nd-gen Indian would know about Indian Politics.

    And there is a stark difference between the lives of Britons of Indian origin and Britons of Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Sri Lankan origin.

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