Kanta Patel: Rights campaigner
Saturday 26 July 2008
Kanta Patel was a local politician and campaigner who devoted her life to the struggle for equal rights and social justice.
Born in Tanzania in 1947 to affluent parents who ran a booming grocery business and owned a number of hotels, she moved in 1968 to London, where she studied food chemistry and worked briefly in a food industry research unit before joining the family business.
She was prompted to run for Greenwich Council in 1986 by a keen sense of the injustices and inequalities blighting the country she had grown to love. Throughout her two decades of service she held a number of senior positions, the most recent being Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, a role which highlighted her devotion to raising aspirations and opportunities for the most disadvantaged communities.
Her achievements as chair of the Race Equality Committee of the Association of London Authorities between 1990 and 1992 and her determined work for the cause of the Black Sections, and the establishment of their successor, the Black Socialist Society, within the Labour Party left a lasting legacy.
I had admired her commitment from afar; and from the moment our paths crossed, at a Local Government Information Unit Conference in Liverpool in 1990, we became very dear friends. We would have conversations about politics and culture, from the state of the world to Bollywood films. The breadth of her knowledge and the depth of her passion always astounded me.
Kanta Patel's enthusiasm and zeal helped to change the political climate of the late 1980s and pave the way for candidates from ethnic minorities, such as myself. She was never fazed when she became a target for threats and intimidation from the far right.
She had all the positive characteristics associated with politicians – an idealistic view of the world and a belief that individuals have the power to make a difference – and none of the negative ones. Her devotion to her cause was absolute.
Kanta Patel, local politician and campaigner: born Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 2 June 1947; member, Greenwich Council 1986-2008; died London 8 July 2008.
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
Nepal earthquake in pictures: Photos show devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Hermann Goering's daughter fails to reclaim items looted by Nazi deputy during WWII
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...