Vaughan Gething: 'I have been racially abused while campaigning'

8 October 2020, 17:40

Daniel Bevan

By Daniel Bevan

The Health Minister for Wales, Vaughan Gething, has revealed he was racially abused while out campaigning in a candid interview with LBC about Black History Month.

Mr Gething was the first black person to be elected to the Welsh Assembly when he won the vote in 2011.

He’s the only member of the Welsh Government from a black, Asian or ethnically diverse background.

Speaking to LBC to mark Black History Month Mr Gething said: “The reason why the Black Lives Matter movement has really pricked public consciousness in countries around the world, as certainly here [is because] we have our own challenges that we face.

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“This is a moment, not just to reflect, but it’s really about the action that we choose to take”.

Mr Gething moved to the UK at the age of two from Zambia, with his family.

Vaughan Gething was speaking to LBC
Vaughan Gething was speaking to LBC. Picture: LBC

The Minister also believes there is still widespread institutional racism in Wales.

He said: “[Racism] isn’t always overt…It’s more about why, when you look at an organisation, the people of black and asian origin are more likely to operate in junior tiers than in leadership teams

“The discrimination doesn’t need to be overt to be real.”

Mr Gething revealed whilst he was out campaigning he suffered racial abuse from people who he now represents as a Member of the Senedd for Cardiff South and Penarth.

He said: “Certainly only when you’re out and about on the doorstep there are comments that are made but I’m afraid that’s part of it.

“I’ve knocked on door and people have proudly told me they’re voting for the BNP and you get a bit of ‘you’re all the same’ and ‘what are you doing in the country’. It still happens.

“These are people who I am elected to represent and serve.”

Vaughan Gething was the first black person to be elected to the Welsh Assembly
Vaughan Gething was the first black person to be elected to the Welsh Assembly. Picture: PA

But despite this, Mr Gething believes his son Isaac, 6, will have a better experience growing up than he did.

He said: “I grew up in rural West England, and he’s grown up in a much more diverse area of the world and I do think attitudes have moved on.

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“It was 1980 when I was his age and we still had race riots at that time. The National Front was a recent figure of the past.

“My older brother went on a school trip to London and heard chanting 'there ain’t no black in the Union Jack’ so that was a lot more overt.”

“I do think he [Isaac] is in a better place, but I will, at some point, need to have a conversation with him about why some people may look at him and me differently”.