‘Mistakes every single person of colour every single week’ says Dawn Butler MP as BBC apologises for incorrectly labelling a speech by Marsha De Cordova MP

PUBLISHED: 16:55 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:55 04 February 2020

Dawn Butler MP for Brent Central

Dawn Butler MP for Brent Central


Dawn Butler MP says she has been previously mistaken for a black Labour Party colleague after the BBC was forced to apologise for mixing them up.

Marsha De Cordova MP incorrectly labelled as Dawn Butler MP by BBC. Picture: @DawnButlerBrentMarsha De Cordova MP incorrectly labelled as Dawn Butler MP by BBC. Picture: @DawnButlerBrent

The Brent Central MP's name incorrectly labelled a speech by Marsha De Cordova, who has been the MP for Battersea since 2017, which aired on BBC Parliament in the House of Commons yesterday.

Writing on twitter, Ms Butler, who has been an MP from 2005 to 2010 and again since 2015, said: "@BBCNews @BBCPolitics I love my sister @MarshadeCordova but we are two very different people. Marsha is amazing and deserves to be called by her own name.

"Diversity in the workplaces matters, it also helps avoid making simple mistakes like this."

Ms de Cordova responded: "@BBCPolitics @BBCParliament This is what happens when the media does not represent the society it reports on.

"Representation matters. Diversity matters. This cannot continue."

In response to the incident, the BBC said: "We sincerely apologise for this mistake.

"Sometimes we incorrectly identify MPs at the moment when they stand to speak. This error was immediately corrected on screen."

But speaking exclusively to this paper Ms Butler said: "Marsha and I have been confused before, people have mistaken us a couple of times and we don't always discuss it.

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"Sometimes we will laugh about it.

"There is a constant narrative around, especially us as black women, always having to justify our existence in a space.

"It is almost as though there can only be one, because having more than one is just too much for anyone to cope with.

"It is a constant battle and I feel it is important for me to help elevate the new women especially black women who are in parliament."

Ms Butler, who has thrown her hat in the ring to become Labour's deputy leader added: "Sometimes mistakes happen but it is not about making a mistake.

It's about making an effort to recognise people for who they are and the qualities they bring to the debate and the qualities they bring to the table.

"It is not for me to say why it happens; it is for the people who do it to say why they have done it. This happens to every single person of colour probably every single week.

"This is our lived experience. We often adjust or compensate or explain just to get ourselves through to the next situation. We don't take on all the battles because it would exhaust us."

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