From the Dusty Shoebox In the Bottom Drawer: Race-Obsession, 29 November 1996

Seventeen years after Constable Savage arrested Mr. Winston Kodogo of 55 Mercer Road for possession of curly black hair and curly lips, Diane Abbott took umbrage at Finnish nurses with blonde hair and blue eyes in her constituency where Afro-Caribbean candidates would, presumably, have been preferrable.

The obvious explanation for the relative ease with which Finnish applicants were accepted is that Finland was a EU state, whereas Jamaica or the Dominican Republic were not. Although Finland had and continues to have a low number of non-European, due to her distance from many of the immigration pathways of the late 20th Century, it quickly was observed that the then Miss Finland had a Nigerian father.

Although divining welcome social trends from beauty pagents can be a risky business, Lola Odusoga clearly had been accepted by Finnish society; and, indeed, went on to win the Miss Scandinavia contest. This observation was made by the then director of the Anti-Racist Alliance, Marc Wadsworth who is part-Finnish.

What caught my eye was a defence which came from fellow Labour MP, Bernie Grant:

“She is quite right,” he said. “Bringing someone here from Finland who has never seen a black person before and expecting them to have some empathy with black people is nonsense. Scandinavian people don’t know black people – they probably don’t know how to take their temperature.”

Beats anything Darcus Howe has said into a cocked hat.

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