Bernie joined the Tottenham Labour Party in 1973, and held numerous positions
within the local party before being elected a councillor in 1978. His impact
was immediate, and within a year he was Deputy Leader of the Council.
By 1985 he had become the Leader of Haringey Council, the first ever-black
person to hold such a position in Europe. As leader he pioneered a number of
equalities policies to eradicate all forms of discrimination. During this time
Haringey Council was one of the few local authorities to develop policies
allowing greater access for the disabled, tackle gender and racial
discrimination as well as tackling discrimination on the basis of sexual
The disturbances on Broadwater Farm Estate in 1985, brought him to national
prominence, as he defended the youth against police harassment. Despite meeting
the full force of the racism of the British press he refused to compromise.