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"I Shall Continue to Support African Migrants" - UK Deputy Party Leader

Nov 28, 2008, 3:56 AM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye - Our UK Correspoindent

Following the series of immigration and other important debates currently taking place in the country, Harriet Harman, the deputy leader and party chairperson of the current United Kingdom government has told The Point that she "shall continue to support African migrants", including Gambians in the country, and keep on speaking on their behalf. She also pledged to advise "any one of them who feels affected".

 During an interview with this correspondent in respect of the various issues ranging from immigration, education, African businesses and economic worries, the deputy party leader stressed that  "the new immigration rules should not be a cause of concern to African people. They know they can rely on me to take care of them and to speak up for them. I will advise anyone who feels they are affected by the new rules".

 Harriet Harman, a former Solicitor General who is also a QC is very passionate about other people's welfare and had spoken out against several vices in society including domestic violence and crime.  

Few days ago, she spoke against sex traffickers operating in the country and ways and means to try and discourage its existence. Her campaign has led to a new law - the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act, the introduction of a new team of specialist prosecutors to ensure more effective prosecutions for domestic violence and a new network of specialist domestic violence courts.

 Regarding any plans she has for African Migrants in her constituency, which is currently harbouring thousands of Africans including many Gambians, she said: "I shall continue to support African Migrants in Camberwell and Peckham, whether through remittances, helping small businesses, or fighting for better transport links. I shall continue to work alongside African organisations and support the good work that they do".

 Harriet Harman, who various political commentators described as "one of or the most powerful and experienced female politicians in the country", has also traveled to many African countries particularly West Africa to see for her self various socio-political developments and other issues taking place in the continent.

 Due to Harriet's commitment to international development and because her constituency, according to reports, has the largest number of people from the African community in the United Kingdom. The Deputy Leader has been a regular visitor to Africa. Countries she has visited include Sierra Leone in March 2004, Nigeria in September 2004 and Tanzania in May 2005.

 When asked about her ambition to visit the continent once again she revealed that she will be travelling again to West Africa by next year. She revealed to The Point: "Yes I will be travelling to Ghana in March 2009. I will be inviting my Ghanaian constituents to meet with me before I travel and ask them what they think I should be doing or looking out for while I am there".

 After the 2005 General Election, Harriet was appointed Minister for Justice at the Department for Constitutional Affairs and her position continues to rise as her responsibilities increase. When the Prime Minister was away during official mission recently, Harriet took the responsibility of his role in Parliament by answering questing from fellow Members of Parliament during the popular Prime Minister's Question Time.

 The Deputy Party leader's various responsibilities include; "giving the relatives of homicide victims a voice in court, reform of the family justice system, community justice centres and improving the antiquated coroner's court system" and therefore many experts believe that people can rely on her support for genuine advice. 

 Harriet has campaigned for various issues all over the country including the opening up the family courts to make them more transparent and accountable, improving the coroners system, in particular for the bereaved families of service men and women who have died in Iraq, and giving local communities a say regarding various issues.

The Deputy Labour leader acknowledged that the economic situation is also a serious concern for her and she told The Point that she is not only willing but in reality has been working alongside businesses owned by Africans in these hard times which she is very proud to continue doing.   

Currently Gambian businesses are flourishing in London and those living in her constituency could therefore benefit from such support. The veteran politician added that the current global economic worries is a concern and "yes, it is as important now as ever".

 Asked by this correspondent why she should expect Africans in her constituency to continue to vote of her in the next election, Harriet Harman maintained that because she always fought for her people and has done a lot of things for them. She says she deserves their votes in order to do more for them. She said: "Because I have always fought for my constituents and will continue to do so. We have done a lot, but we need to do more".

 Harriet Harman also said that she is fully aware of the support of her people including hard-working and law abiding Gambians residing in her constituency and is willing to do what ever she can to help when the need arises. She said: "I am very grateful for the support of all West Africans. They are newly arrived in my constituency and are hard-working and can see all the good works that the Labour Party is doing for them"

 This correspondent who covered her campaign for the position of Deputy Party leader in the current government, in which she won with a resounding victory, is also aware of her relentless support for migrants both old and newcomers. Therefore, apart from the able and talented Gambian solicitors available, others can also use the opportunity to consult her for any advice they require.