Calling out the Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the floor of Parliament? All in a day’s work for Brent Central MP Dawn Butler. Read 10 reasons why we are steadfast fans of the uncompromising Labour MP.
From the beauty and symbolism of her majestic sister locs to her uncompromising standards and championing of worthy causes, Dawn Butler MP would get our vote for PM, hands down! If you would like to learn more about the Brent Central MP, we got you.
Read on for 10 reasons why we heart Dawn Butler MP.
1. The events of July 22 where she challenged the Prime Minister
Earlier in the month Prime Minister Johnson told MPs that the COVID-19 vaccination programme had “severed” the link between infections and serious illness or death. This appeared to be an error rather than an outright falsehood, with the official government line remaining that the link has only been weakened, not severed. But Johnson was yet to correct himself. Butler told MPs: “Not only is this not true, it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous to lie in the pandemic. And I’m disappointed the prime minister has not come to the house to correct the record, and to correct the fact that he has lied to this house and the country over and over again.” With that – and after Deputy Speaker Judith Cummins twice asked her to withdraw the statement, Butler was ejected from the commons for the rest of the day. We can only applaud her for calling out the lie and holding the government to account.
2. She has skin in the game
The causes Dawn Butler champions stem from personal experience of institutional injustice in the Black community. Among them, the stop and search tactics by police of which she is a strong critic. Having been stopped by police at least three times as an MP, Butler has used her experiences (one of which was recorded and was widely shared on social media) to call for a change to the system, which is often seen to be institutionally racist. About this particular incident – which was later revealed to be caused by incorrect data entry – she said: “I had no intention of speaking about this until the officers became very obnoxious..” “I just felt that if I don’t use my platform to talk about this, I’m doing a disservice to everyone who gets wrongly stopped and searched, and all the Black people who are constantly unjustly profiled.”
3. She is unafraid of taking on uncomfortable issues
In particular, those that go to the heart of the British establishment. During a debate on Black History Month in the House of Commons, the Brent Central MP called for the national curriculum to be “decolonised”. As one of the Black female MPs routinely targeted for racist abuse and death threats, she pointed out how: “You can go through history thinking that the people who were enslaved were not a part of the uprising. You can go through history and not understand the richness of Africa and the Caribbean.”. Her bravery extends to taking “skin folk” to task when the historical positions she references are challenged. When equalities minister Kemi Badenoch asked her which parts of the curriculum made Black children feel inferior, she replied: “You can go through history and not understand all the leaders in the Black community. I’m surprised that the minister has actually asked me that because it’s so well documented that history needs to be decolonised.”
4. She is a natural campaigner and trailblazer in her own right
After a short break from elected politics, she ran a successful campaign in the 2015 General Election and won Brent Central back from the Liberal Democrats, securing a majority of nearly 20,000 – representing the largest vote swing in Britain at that election. She was again successful in the 2017 General Election, winning 73.1% of the vote. Since returning to Parliament, she has taken on the ‘Big 6’ energy companies over the excessive cost of pre-payment meters, launching a national petition and held a Westminster Hall Debate.
5. She gets kudos and recognition
Unlike some past leaders and pioneers in the Black Community, her achievements have been recognized while she is in her prime and there seems to be no stopping her. She has been named the “most promising feminist under 35” by New Statesman magazine; and in 2020 named one of the 25 women shaping the UK by British Vogue.
6. Her very appearance is an act of beauty and revolution
Not only are her glorious sister locs now her signature look, but she sports them unashamedly and is keenly aware of the empowering message her profile sends to young Black women and girls who struggle to see positive role models. To sum it up she told Yahoo News UK her hair changed when she watched the film Malcolm X as a young woman in 1992, after which she decided to wear her hair natural. “For many Black women, there comes a time when a switch is flicked, and the decision is made to go natural. Butler admits: “it’s the most liberated I’ve ever felt with my hair”. She has also come to the defence of young women discriminated against because of their natural hairstyles. She has also been featured in an exhibition on Black Hair and Heritage and reflected on the peace she felt after loc-ing her hair. Despite constant criticism about her hair and whether or not it is professional, we continue to enjoy her style and confidence.
7. She has previously received a presidential thumbs up
Dawn Butler has the endorsement of the most famous and arguably powerful Black family in the world: The Obamas. In 2009 she received an enthusiastic thumbs up from then-United States President Barak Obama. Need we say more?
8. Her personal story is inspirational
Born to Jamaican immigrants and one of six children, Dawn Butler started her career as a computer programmer/systems analyst. She later became a civil servant, as manager in the employment service and then a trade unionist. Her desire to enter politics came from a deep-rooted commitment to address inequality. She became the first elected Black Caribbean woman to become a government minister in the UK and in her maiden speech described her constituency as a “shining example of integration at its best.”
9. Her dedication to unseating inequality is global, but rooted in local concerns
Leading debate in the House on UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – as the MP for the most diverse constituency in Europe – she reminded MPs of the significance of the date: “On 21 March 1960, at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, police turned their guns on protesters and started shooting. They killed 69 people and injured hundreds more. Therefore, each year, the international community comes together to observe this day. In South Africa, it is Human Rights Day, a public holiday to commemorate the lives lost in the fight for democracy and equal human rights.” But she didn’t lead off debate before delivering a jab to the person who was at the time, the antithesis of what the day commemorated: “The theme this year is racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration. I wonder whether the UN had any particular person in mind when it came up with that theme. I hope that, if Donald Trump is watching, he might send us a tweet.”
10. She’s a style icon
Unapologetic in her style and flair, Dawn Butler doesn’t shy away from bold cuts and bright colours; as she told Michelle Pierre-Carr in their Style and Fashion chat. We never get tired of seeing this Black woman winning, and looking good while she does so.
This article was written by Katrina Marshall