BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
GRIM forebodings about the future of race relations in Britain were made last weekend after a "coloured take-over" of CARD (Campaign Against Racial Discrimination) was narrowly defeated in London.
Dr. David Pitt, chairman and Catholic West Indian, was forced to adjourn the conference after an alliance of "Black Power," extremists, right-wing Indians and politically more than racially. motivated groups pressed for all non-white officers and a protest campaign with more "bite" to it.
CARD has always had predominance of coloured officers. In fact, the present fivemember leadership has only one white, Julia Gaitskell, general secretary, and daughter of the late Hugh Gaitskell.
The credentials of some of the 180 delegates were 'challenged and the conference finally had to be adjourned so that they could be investigated by an independent committee (elected at the conference).
It is expected that the conference will be reconvened in about four weeks' time.
The crisis came when 25 delegates from the Indian Workers' Association in Birmingham and Southall, together with delegates from the Sikh Cultural Society and the Indian Youth Organisation (North London), walked out after the chairman over-ruled their protests against the "Black Power" group.
It was a most discouraging call for all-coloured officers. It was evident that some of the more extreme delegates were deliberately directing personal attacks on Julia Gaitskell, who responded with the plaintive cry "I can't help it if I'm white."
Later the Oxford race relations worker, Michael Dummen, who is a member of the Catholic Institute for Race Relations, said he was distressed by the attacks against the general secretary. However, he agreed delegates had every right to elect an all-coloured leadership if they wanted to.
He said it would be "highly regrettable" if white people started to complain about the coloured people's mood of resentment and frustration. "Instead, white people ought to be learning what is causing the growing humiliation and frustration and start trying to correct the discrimination which is taking place."
A resolution that CARD "should fight imperialism by any means necessary" only just failed to get a two-thirds majority. Had the resolution been carried many delegates would have been alienated from much of what CARD has so far stood for.
At the beginning of the meeting Dr. Pitt stressed that while violence might have to be used to fight oppression in some countries there was no need for it in Britain.
But, in spite of this, the general mood of the conference was at times still militant. The United Coloured People's Association (who wear black panther badges with the words "Black Power") were among the most embittered.
They were among a wide cross-section of delegates who were disenchanted with the way the Government is coping with race issues and discrimination.
There was even a suggestion that the Government's proposed "tougher" race laws may be "too little" and "too late."
Prejudices, rather than dissolving in the last 12 months, were considered to have hardened. More than 20 delegates spoke harshly about the police force, alleging that coloured people had lost confidence in it.
WHITE BARRIERS The housing situation was worse, and even when coloured tried to break out of their ghettoes, white suburbia put up a barrier (as happened in South London recently).
The Ministry of Housing seemed to be doing almost nothing to alleviate the position.
[Professor John Rex, a member of the housing panel of the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants, has resigned in frustration over the Government's complacency.] It is to be hoped that when CARD reconvenes, its inside political differences will be solved.
Its record to date has been excellent. Its fairness, objectivity and sincerity have the respect of most people in Britain, the Government and the Churches. Should it disintegrate it could put race relations in jeopardy.