Using children as puppets to achieve blatantly political, ideological ends is utterly shameless, says Mercy Muroki

A Labour council may rename a park in their jurisdiction after Diane Abbott

Published

A Labour council could rename a park named after four-time Prime Minister William Gladstone to Diane Abbott Park in its bid to, quote, 'tackle injustice'.

Following BLM protests last year, the local authority and its Labour leader Muhammed Butt asked schoolchildren to choose a new name for the park.

And apparently, suggestions proposed by about 300 primary schoolers include 'Diversity Field', 'BAME Park', 'Rainbow Park' and of course 'Dianne Abbott Park'

People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed on May 25 2020 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.
People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed on May 25 2020 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.

Now, I wouldn't necessarily class myself as a Dianne Abbott fangirl – to put it very mildly.

And in the spirit of Easter, there are some kind things I have to say about the Member of Parliament for Hackney and Stoke Newington.

She came from relatively humble beginnings, worked hard to secure a place at Cambridge University as an adolescent, and then became the first black woman to ever be elected to the British Parliament.

That is no mean feat. She is, I suppose you could say, extraordinary... in her own peculiar way, at least.

But here's my issue with this: according to the Telegraph, which has seen internal documents relating to this review, pupils were first given a briefing on systemic racism and George Floyd by a race expert before being asked to choose a new name for Gladstone Park...

And – get this – it is purported that pupils as young as five suggested that the park be named after Dianne Abbott.

Come off it. We weren't born yesterday.

People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.
People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.

There is absolutely no way primary school children are coming up with this stuff by themselves.

It's not that I think they're not bright enough to think about social issues, some are.

But I have a 7 year old daughter. In fact, I brought her to work today – she's backstage. And I consider her a mature, rather intellectual 7 year old.

But even then, I can guarantee you that the only thing she's concerned about right now, as I speak, is what colour gel pen she's going to use to colour in her drawing.

Her biggest worry in life is probably her favourite coloured felt tip pen running out of ink.

And so it should be.

I can assure you she's not – and has never – of her own volition, sat around worrying about systematic racism, global prejudice and injustice, and she certainly has no clue who Dianne Abbott or William Gladstone are.

Let alone advocating for a local park to be renamed after Dianne Abbott in light of BLM protests.

I put it to the people leading this review that what they are manipulating young children in order to influence the outcome of this review.

Some would say it's shameful to change the name of park named after a four-time Prime Minister upon his death in honour of his memory and his contributions to the United Kingdom political and social life to that of a – with respect – far less prominent political figure who has never even served on the front benches in government in her 35 year political career.

But using children as puppets to achieve those blatantly political, ideological ends... that's utterly shameless.