The Rise and Fall of Fiona Onasanya

gettyimages-685254710_0.jpgFor the first time in UK political history, an MP, earlier this week, was expelled from her MP position as a result of a recall petition signed by her constituents in Peterborough. They say there’s a first for everything and for the constituents to successfully do this is an example of how we live in a democratic country which values the opinions and views of its voters, for that I’m ever grateful.

But back to the MP in question here, Fiona Onasanya. That name may or may not ring a bell to you depending on whether you’ve kept up with the story as it’s unfolded. I’ve put together a little timeline to map out how we’ve got to Fiona being removed from her position as the MP of Peterborough.

  • July 2017 – Car belonging to Fiona is caught speeding by cameras and receives a speeding ticket;
  • July 2018 – Claimed she was not the one driving her car, however police accuse her of colluding with her brother;
  • July 2018 – Charged with two counts of perverting the courts of justice;
  • January 2019 – Sentenced to three months imprisonment;
  • February 2019 – Released from prison after serving two months of sentence;
  • March 2019 – Attempted to appeal her conviction, but the appeal was quashed.
  • March 2019 – Released a YouTube video protesting her innocence;
  • April 2019 – Recall petition signed by 19,000 constituents and Fiona effectively removed as MP of Peterborough;

It’s a real shame that we have ultimately got to this point, before this Fiona was a solicitor, an MP and an ambitious black woman breaking the mould and the glass ceiling.

As cheesy as it may sound, Fiona gave hope to other black females wanting to take up an MP position, politics is a difficult and competitive industry to flourish in and seeing another individual that’s female and black was encouraging. Essentially losing a positive role model is one unfortunate outcome of this situation, another effect of this is what a lot of us black people already know. You have to work twice as hard, and if you fail or make a mistake the repercussions are severe, and don’t only impact you, your actions can inadvertently affect other black people.

Unfortunately, making a mistake as a black person can affect how black people are seen as a whole, but why is this? We see examples of this regularly, a black person stabs someone and for some, this means all black people are considered a risk and stop and search is excessively used. A black person rapes someone, Liam Neeson goes out looking to attack one (as discussed in an earlier blog post).

Here, a black politician perverts the course of justice and a common viewpoint is that this will have a knock on effect and negatively impact the prospects of future black MP candidates, as they will be perceived more negatively due to Fiona’s scandal.

But are these valid predictions or is this what black people mistakenly expect to be the case, are we too harsh on ourselves? Does the action of one black woman tar the brush for all black women, let alone all black people? To delve deeper into these questions, I’ll provide some excerpts from a conversation that my friend Jane had with one of her friends.

Jane’s friend: ”See how our cocky sisters bring us disgrace in England?

Jane: ”See this is something I’m always going to disagree on. She is not the representation of all black women. You don’t see white people saying that the actions of one person has disgraced the white race.”

Jane’s friend: ”This woman is an MP in a predominantly white area and hence a very visible black woman and her actions are likely to dent the chances of other young ambitious African Brits – simply accepting you were speeding comes with a fine. Those who hold such positions should have clean hands or else their actions affect us collectively.”

Jane: “I personally don’t believe in taking on other’s mistakes and I think it’s something we need to stop as a race.”

On reflection, when I heard about the case I held the view that this could ruin the chances for other black MPs and agreed with Jane’s friend, however I think Jane raises valid points about not taking on the mistakes of others. We as black people are individuals and the actions of one person shouldn’t collectively define our race, to reiterate what was discussed in a previous post one size does not fit all.

I think the onus is on us to reframe our mindset, when a black person makes a mistake let’s avoid automatically thinking that the one mistake will become another person’s burden. If we can change this narrative and take control of the situation then others should follow and realise that one black person making a mistake is just that, rather than it being all of us making a mistake. In the political sphere, there’s been another prominent scandal surrounding Defence Secretary and Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson and that mistake is on him only not the white race as a whole – likewise Fiona’s mistake should completely be on her only, and not for you, me or any other black person to take on.

Lola I

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