IN diasporic terms, the recent sacking of Diane Abbott as Opposition spokeswoman on public health represents the removal of the lone "currant" in recent times in the otherwise traditionally white-dominated British Labour Party shadow cabinet.
The sacking stems from the first rather far-reaching reshuffle of that cabinet undertaken by Ed Miliband since his election to the post of party leader in 2010.
In retrospect, most persons, I suspect, who observe British politics through the prism of the history of race relations in the Mother country since the end of the Second World War, would agree that Miss Abbott — a columnist for this newspaper — Messrs Paul Boateng, Berni Grant, and Keith Vaz swept into the British Parliament with a flurry of great excitement on the Labour Party ticket in the general election of 1987.
They epitomised the force of organised power within the confines of parliamentary democracy, as espoused by Marcus Garvey.
In fact, the conspicuous presence of Abbott — Britain's first black female MP — amongst her Afro-British parliamentary colleagues in the House of Commons since the winter of 1987, and, more recently, as an articulate spokesperson on the Opposition front bench, ensured that Britain's parliamentary democracy reflected the multi-racial and multi-cultural social milieu that the society has undoubtedly become over the past six-and-a-half decades.
This historic achievement underscored a seminal thesis in the arsenal of Garvey's teaching, for as some readers will remember, he spent almost a lifetime calling for the ensemble of Blacks qua Blacks in the diaspora in terms of the capabilities of a race of people, strong and determined, from among whom could be teased out practical lessons and strategies for effective political action in whatever part of the world they might find themselves. For Garvey, the politics of participation was as important as the politics of resistance.
Within this framework, Diane is perhaps Britain's most gifted black politician to have emerged in modern times, who was once regarded as a serious contender for leadership of the British Labour Party. This fact therefore raises the question: Why would Ed Miliband, who turns 44 next December, and who is the younger of the two sons of internationally acclaimed Marxist sociologist, Ralph Miliband, choose to jettison such an expert and accomplished representative of the British people from his shadow cabinet?
British public opinion, after all, has consistently rated her as one of the Labour Party's more formidable communicators who acts out of principle. Furthermore, she is believed to possess great policy instincts, and to have done a good job in handling her shadow portfolio. And in recent years, she has come to be regarded as the poster child for sensible immigration reform in Britain.
Despite such favourable ratings, however, she has had to endure the label of being "racist" and "hypocritical" throughout her illustrious career; and has even been negatively described in some sections of British society in ways not suitable for mention in a family publication.
But, to her everlasting credit, none of this served to break her colourful strides or spirit inside and out of the British Parliament. This is because she has always seen herself as a 'rebel daughter' of Jamaican ancestry with the will always to be independent in thought.
I note, for example, that even after being dismissed from the Labour Opposition front bench, she could be heard speaking of her intention to "enjoy being a free agent on the back benches even more".
I suspect that the adoption of this defiant tone went some way in shaping Ed Miliband's dilemma: how to rebrand his party in his image and ensure that members of his team stay on his message leading into the next general election due in 2015.
The tome, One Nation: power, hope, community, edited by Rachel Reeves and Owen Smith -- two of the reputed leading talents in the shadow cabinet — with contributions by Labour MPs from the 2010 intake, not only sets out the Labour Party's purpose and policies under Miliband's leadership, but more pointedly, provides clarity as to why he rewarded those who have actively engaged his political and ideological project.
In putting aside the glaring brooding and personal dynamics of the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown era, Miliband has decided to not only surround himself with people who will pull with him and stick to his message; but also those who can claim to be focused on the future rather than the past.
This is why, coming out of his 2013 annual party conference, he now behaves like a leader with an appointment with destiny, who is no longer constrained to struggle against the powers of darkness in the form of the hidden influence of his party's recent leaders.
So, when Miss Abbott from the sanctuary of the shadow cabinet threatened in the glare of media publicity to resign over the recent Syria vote in the British Parliament, only to discover that her party leadership had actually taken the position she supported, this was interpreted by Miliband as a red flag in terms of the united team he envisions leading into the next election.
As I see it, it was always going to be difficult for black MPs in Britain, especially those like Abbott representing the first crop of parliamentarians to take their seat in the place of their legal emancipation, to consistently maintain their loyalty to their party and commitment to British parliamentary action and procedures without restricting their freedoms to act as spokespersons for a multiplicity of causes in the way that some of their supporters may wish.
The road ahead may not be any easier for Miss Abbott, now that she is out of the shadow cabinet, because as long as she remains an MP in the British Parliament she will need to maintain that balance between representing the black voters of her constituency and at the same time function effectively as a party and parliamentary member.
And as the political game in Britain changes, she could well end up being unable to totally satisfy either her constituents or her party.
But whatever her future in British politics may be, there is no denying that Mother England's first black female member of parliament has had an extraordinary impact on the confidence and morale of the Black communities in Britain and on that of her kith and kin in the Caribbean in general and Jamaica in particular.
Marcus Garvey would have been proud of her; and so should we.