Europe’s biggest anti-racist festival axed by Boris Johnson

8th April, 2009 4:56 pm

From LabourListRise

Boris Johnson today announced that London’s anti-racist festival Rise, which brought 100,000 Londoners together each year to celebrate music from around the world, is to be scrapped. He cited a lack of union sponsorship for the event.

The announcement follows Johnson’s decision last year to remove the anti-racist element of the festival.

Rise, formerly the Respect festival, was established and sponsored by the trades unions as part of their work to combat racism and the far-right. It soon became the capital’s biggest annual free concert under Ken Livingstone, attracting artists including the Buzzcocks, Common, Jimmy Cliff, Run DMC, Graham Coxon, The Wailers, De La Soul and Kelis, as well as promoting diverse music from London’s Asian communities.

On the decision to scrap the event, former Mayor Ken Livingstone said:

“It’s a blow to good community relations in the city. There is now a clear pattern of Boris Johnson cutting funding to events celebrating the contributions of different communities to London and promoting good community relations. And, as with the loss of most sponsorship for events like the St Patrick’s Day festival and Freewheel, his claims that he will save tax payers’ money by bringing in outside sponsors have been shown to be just so much hot air.”

“Rise was the biggest anti-racist festival in Europe and on that basis attracted significant sponsorship. It lost much of this when Boris Johnson dropped the central anti-racist message last year. It is no surprise that Boris Johnson is now cancelling the festival altogether.”

“But it is misleading for his administration to try to blame this on trades unions withdrawing sponsorship, when sponsors had signed up to an anti-racist festival and obviously saw no reason to fund an event with no coherent message.”

Labour Assembly member, Jennette Arnold, said:

“The festival embodied all that is good about London, bringing people of all ages and cultures together. It was a celebration of London for Londoners – something Boris just doesn’t get. It’s no great surprise the Mayor couldn’t find a sponsor for the event, given that he had already got rid of all its meaning.”

Steve Hart, Regional Secretary for Unite, a former sponsor of the event, said:

“After last year’s scandalous decision to remove the anti-racism message from promotional material, Boris has now decided to take a hasty, short-sighted decision to stop the festival all together, disappointing over 100,000 loyal followers. The Mayor should promote a festival that celebrates London’s diversity and sends a strong anti-racist message.”

Commenting on Johnson’s claim that he couldn’t find the requisite sponsorship, Hart continued:

“Unite was never approached by the London Mayor, or by any of his staff in the run-up to this decision. Unite is calling for the London Mayor to work with the union to devise new strategies to combat racism and reconsider his decision to cancel the Rise Festival 2009.

Meanwhile, Linda Perks, UNISON Regional Secretary, another former sponsor, said:

“The London mayor is passing the buck for the festival’s cancellation. The real story here is that Boris Johnson is not interested in working to put an end to the racism and prejudice that sadly still take place on the streets of our capital every day.”

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Comment The truth is that South Thanet should never have been blue – let alone in danger of turning purple

    The truth is that South Thanet should never have been blue – let alone in danger of turning purple

    There’s a lot of interest in the exact Dulux colour composition of Farage’s purple peril. We’ve already had the Ribena test, and this week a City AM piece sought to disentangle ‘red Ukip’ from ‘blue Ukip’ – the Labour component of Nigel Farage’s appeal from the Tory one. The latter article, probably unsurprisingly, concluded that red Ukip was mainly a northern phenomenon and blue Ukip predominantly southern. South Thanet, the Kent seat where I’m standing against Nigel Farage, seems at […]

    Read more →
  • Comment I hate Labour’s immigration mug – but I hate their immigration pledge even more

    I hate Labour’s immigration mug – but I hate their immigration pledge even more

    Yesterday the Labour Party put a dent in the good week they’ve been having by putting on sale a mug stamped with Labour’s promise to put “controls on immigration”.  The was rightly criticised across Twitter; some said it was pandering to Ukip while others seemed to be in disbelief that the party would even produce a piece of merchandise. However, the mug is one of a family of five, each of which are branded with one of Labour’s election pledges. In response to […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Has there been a post-debate “Milibounce”? Signs are good, but lets not get carried away

    Has there been a post-debate “Milibounce”? Signs are good, but lets not get carried away

    Here’s a Sunday Times front page that Miliband and his team will be delighted with – a four point lead with YouGov and talk of momentum for Labour: But – it’s only one poll. That’s the best and most important place to start when talking about a post-debate bounce for Labour (or a “Milibounce” as it was inevitably labelled). The only poll that has been released so far with fieldwork produced post-debate is the YouGov poll in today’s Sunday Times – […]

    Read more →
  • News 40 days to go: Alexander kicks off Labour’s campaign

    40 days to go: Alexander kicks off Labour’s campaign

    Today Douglas Alexander, Labour’s Chair of General Election Strategy, will visit marginal seat Ealing Central and Acton to mark the fact that there are 40 campaigning days left until the general election. Alexander will also visit this constituency, which Labour’s candidate Rupa Huq hopes to win from Conservative Angie Bray, to send a message that Labour have 40 policies that would make Britain better (a list of which can be found below). This ties in with Labour’s campaign slogan “A […]

    Read more →
  • Comment It’s time for the Tories to come clean on their secret £12billion plan to hit children, carers, families and disabled people

    It’s time for the Tories to come clean on their secret £12billion plan to hit children, carers, families and disabled people

    David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have repeatedly refused to explain how they would make the £12 billion cuts in social security spending that their fiscal plans for the next parliament depend on. If anyone wondered why, now  we know. Leaked documents drawn up by civil servants for Conservative ministers and reportedly discussed with Conservative officials, confirm that this extreme cuts plan would hit disabled people and their carers hard. The Tories have denied this is their plan. But the truth is […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit