Parliament TV confused two black women MPs during urgent Jamaica deportations debate

Parliament’s official online TV channel has wrongly attributed a question put by a black female MP as being from another black woman in parliament.

Abena Oppong-Asare, the Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead in Greater London, asked a Home Office minister why people who committed criminal offences were being deported to Jamaica, despite having lived in the UK since childhood.

Ms Oppong-Asare said: “One of the individuals facing deportation tomorrow came to the UK aged five. He committed a crime aged 17 and did the time many, many years ago. Is it fair to punish people for mistakes they have already paid for?”

However the official online channel for the House of Commons credited the question to Taiwo Owatemi, the MP for Coventry North West. The mistake is the latest in a series of errors which have seen black MPs mistaken for black colleagues.

‘Time for a serious conversation’

Taiwo Owatemi was wrongly credited (Photo: UK Parliament)
Taiwo Owatemi was wrongly credited. Image copyright: UK Parliament

Only after the MP was alerted to the mistake – which was noticed by people following along on social media – could the mistake be corrected. It remained live for an hour.

“On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. It has come to my attention that I have again been mistaken for another black MP — this time on parliamentary TV. My name is Abena Oppong-Asare. I would like to know what you are going to do about this, because it is unacceptable.”

The MP is now calling for action be taken on “discriminatory attitudes”.

Ms Oppong-Asare told i: “Most ethnic minorities will have faced this type of discrimination throughout our lives, however we should expect much more from our lawmakers. Given the frequency with which this issue arises, it is time for a serious conversation about what action needs to be taken to root out such discriminatory attitudes in society.”

A spokesperson for the House of Commons said: “We apologise for the mis-naming earlier today, it shouldn’t have happened and has been corrected. We have since apologised to the Member involved.”

Black women MPs mixed up

Dawn Butler (Photo: Getty)
Dawn Butler. Image copyright: Getty Images

It comes after after BBC Parliament captioned comments by Marsha de Cordova as Labour deputy leadership hopeful Dawn Butler. The Evening Standard then reported the story using a picture of Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a third black MP, intended to show Ms de Cordova.

The MP, who has represented Streatham, in south London, since last year’s general election, told the BBC she accepted that “everybody makes mistakes,” but added: “It happens all the time with us. “It is hard enough for us to get elected here but when we do get here we are not treated as individuals.”

Main image copyright: UK Parliament

Written by: Benjamin Butterworth

First published 10.02.20:

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