GT: Guyana news
Date: Sun, 31 Jul 2005 00:28:44 -0400
First Black British female MP visits Guyana
To table talks on future of sugar
WARM welcome awaits Labour Member of Parliament, Ms. Diane Abbott, who arrives here today to discuss the ailing sugar industry and the countrys state of recovery from the devastating floods of earlier in the year among other pressing matters.
Ms. Abbott, who has the distinction of being the first Black woman to be elected to the British Parliament as opposed to our own Baroness Valarie Amos who was hand-picked by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997, and rates Guyana as one of the most interesting and important parts of the English-speaking Caribbean, is quoted by her office as saying on Wednesday:
I particularly want to look at the effect of the cuts in the sugar price on the Guyanese sugar industry and [see] what I can do to help the Guyanese people.
She is further quoted as saying: I am also concerned with seeing for myself how Guyana has recovered from the serious flooding of earlier this year.
Born and raised in Britain of Jamaican stock, Ms. Abbott, who holds a Masters in History from Cambridge University , has a keen interest in developmental issues on the whole, as well as matters pertaining to economics and gender.
Currently Chair of the British Parliamentary Group of MPs, which group has a particular interest in the Caribbean, she caused quite a stir earlier in the year, both in Britain and abroad, with her proclamation that it was the British school system that was responsible for the under-performance amongst Black males in UK schools, and that one way of surmounting this problem was by recruiting teachers from the Caribbean.
Her suggestion at the time was in response to a proposal from Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, Mr. Trevor Phillips, who, like her, is also of Caribbean extract, that the interest of the students at reference would be best served if they were to be educated separately from their White peers.
A journalist by profession, Ms, Abbott, who turns 52 in September, once worked as an administrative trainee with the Home Office; as Race Relations Officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties; a reporter with the breakfast television company, TV-AM and Thames Television; Public Relations Officer with the now-defunct Greater London Council (GLC), and Head of Lambeth Council's Press Office.
She was also active in the Black Sections movement within the Labour Party and in community politics, including the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD); the Scrap Sus campaign to ban police stop-and-search tactics targeting Black youths; and was a founding member of the Black Media Workers' Organisation.
Active for many years as well in the trade union movement, particularly in relation to race equality issues, she served for one year as Britain's first Black female Equality Officer in the Association of Cinematograph Television and Allied Technicians, as well as an elected local councillor in the London Borough of Westminster for four years, during which time she was a member of the Environment, Grants and Social Services Committees.
She now writes regularly for British newspapers like the Guardian, The London Times and the London Evening Standard, and currently appears weekly on a popular BBC1 late-night television programme which discusses politics.
She was first elected to the House of Commons back in 1987, one of four Blacks to have done so at the time, and has since served on all the major parliamentary committee, including the Treasury and Finance committees. Throughout the 90s, Ms. Abbott served on the National Executive of the Ruling British Labour Party.
A divorcee, she has one teenaged son, and is founder and president of the organisation Black Women Mean Business.
In Parliament, she speaks on behalf of Hackney North and Stoke Newington. (L.Rutherford)
Stay connected, organized, and protected. Take the tour