The Difference Between Michael Gove and Ishmael Osamor? Skin Colour.
Written by Sean Ash
Seven Conservative Party leadership hopefuls publicly ‘came out’ this week with the admission of previously taking drugs. Other MPs decided to capitalise on Gove’s admission, having seen this as the perfect opportunity to air their own dirty laundry.
Members of the public began to make open admissions of their own past experiences with drugs. There was a huge wave of moral support, and all those standing for the Tory leadership, aiming to take the top job in country, still having their opportunity in place.
Why should someone’s past continue to haunt them? Surely, we have all made mistakes. Some do not even consider their past drug uses as mistakes. ‘Happy days’, some might say. I see no problem behind the logic. After all, I came out admitting a past, too. ‘Who hasn’t tried drugs?’ I questioned.
Then it occurred to me, while unconsciously enjoying my own privilege to discuss drugs, I could vaguely remember a case, not so long ago, where the public and political response was significantly different.
One to which someone wasn’t as privileged and actually ended up losing their job for it. I just couldn’t put a finger on it. It frustrated me and so I ran a Google search. There it was. The Labour MP Kate Osamor’s son Ishmael Osamor.
When it was discovered that MP Kate Osamor’s son had a drug conviction, the Tories did everything they could to see that both Kate and her son were punished. It resulted in Kate resigning her position from the shadow cabinet.
The media made life very difficult for Kate and her family, and many Tory MPs despite knowing their own pasts with drugs, callously pointed the finger and pushed the knife in at every opportunity to destroy the Osamor family.
The Conservative MP Priti Patel called for the parliamentary standards commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the case and the continued employment of Osamor’s son in parliament.
“There are many questions outstanding here and Kate Osamor and the Labour party must make a full statement about what they knew about this case and why he continued to be employed on the public payroll at Westminster,” the former international development secretary told the Times.
In an open letter to the parliamentary commissioner for standards, the Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan said Osamor’s behaviour “failed to uphold” the code of conduct for MPs. “You do not need me to outline how serious drug offences are, and in this place we ought to treat them as such,” she said.
Ishmael Osamor had been put under so much pressure by the opposition, that he was forced into resigning his council seat on Haringey Council. The family had been publicly shamed and the Tories did everything they could to make the Osamor family suffer.
In fact, it was so petty, that in January 2019, Kate faced further criticism when it was revealed that she used official parliamentary stationery and referenced her shadow cabinet position in writing to the judge to appeal for clemency in the sentencing of her son.
I’m sure all the excuses will be made to turn this racism upside down, but as with the singling out of other leading black politicians, Dianne Abbott, David Lammy and anyone else of colour who dares to speak out against the Tories, it is becoming more apparent.
It appears to be acceptable that black politicians are targeted and attacked far more than white counterparts, who sometimes mess up, get their figures wrong or so happen to have a history with drugs.
When Michael Gove admitted doing coke, we all laughed and made our excuses. Isn’t it time that we started calling out the institutional racism within the Tory Party and their double standards? Why do we view drugs so differently when white working and middle class people are taking them, as to when black people are linked to them?
Kate Osamor should be given her position back on the shadow cabinet with a full apology, and if ex drug users can run for the job of Prime Minister, then Ishmael Osamor should also be reinstated to his parliamentary assistant role and continue to pursue his dreams. Just like a white politician would do.