Blacks relaxed about option to 'return': Bernie Grant's remarks fail to outrage his constituents. James Cusick reports

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The Independent Online
IF Bernie Grant's breaking of the taboo of repatriation was deemed to provoke outrage among Britain's black community, the predominantly teenage, predominantly black, queue at Burger King in Tottenham yesterday did not see what all the fuss was about.

Most had not seen the issue of the black newspaper, The Voice, which reported the suggestion by the Labour MP for Tottenham, north London, for a 'conditional return'.

Michael Jons, a British- born teenager, said: 'If people want it, give them it. If they don't want it, don't force them to have it. That's it.'

Outside Turnpike Lane Tube station, Maria Thomas and Stephanie Mascall sheltered under one tiny umbrella. Both were born in Tottenham and had parents from outside the UK who came to England in the 1960s.

Ms Thomas said: 'My mum is from Jamaica. She'd go back if the Government gave her the money. Her sister's still there. But if it's a young black person born here, then I don't think the Government should have a say.' Ms Mascall added: 'The Government would like them all to go back. That's the danger.'

Mr Grant's speech has been compared with Enoch Powell's April 1968 speech in which he spoke of 'the government promoting the maximum outflow of immigrants'.

Zephaline Levy, who came to Britain from the Caribbean too long ago to remember, said many of her black friends and neighbours would take money. 'It would cost thousands to go back home and start again.'

Clare James said there would be the view that 'those who took the money would be seen as cowards running away'. Money 'won't solve the problem we face'.

At the College of North East London, John Talar, studying for a B Tech in Building Construction, said that for most black students it was not a question of going 'back to where their parents came from'.

'Most of us are thinking of going to any country abroad. As well as the racial problems, there's nothing here for us. Once we get our education, we're off.'