Black MP tells of racist incidents in parliament – including being mistaken for a cleaner

Dawn Butler speaks out about “parliament’s dirty little secret”

A fellow MP once mistook Dawn Butler for a cleaner in one of many racist incidents in parliament, the MP has revealed.

One of only two black female MPs in parliament, Butler has previously referred to racism and sexism in parliament as its “dirty little secret”.

Speaking on BBC 5 Live show Pienaar’s politics, the MP recalled a time where, when travelling in a House of Commons lift with another MP, the man said: “This lift really isn’t for cleaners.”

In the past, Butler said she’s had to pick her battles so as not to be in conflict with other MPs constantly. She added: “I thought people in Parliament would be progressive. It is still a shock that they are not.”

“Over the past 400-plus years, the only black people - and black women in particular - in Parliament have been there to cook and clean. For some politicians, it’s still a shock to come face to face with a black woman with any real power.”

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