Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Conservatives For All British Communities

Picture of Conservative representatives from Operation Black Vote C/O OBV Website

As someone who comes from a minority background and having experienced my own fair share of discrimination, challenges and barriers in life and having over come many of them to achieve what I have today, I understand and can relate closely to the experiences of many black and minority ethnic (BME) voters in the UK. I also spend my life reaching out to different communities developing engagement with organisations that have traditionally failed to engage people from a variety of backgrounds and empowering people to take control and hold their local services to account.

This is why as a Conservative I feel passionately in us holding open permanently our doors to all communities in the UK and letting anyone who supports the values of hard work, aspiration and success walk through knowing that they are welcomed and are helping to shape the direction of the party, their community and ultimately the country we all are proud to call our home.

If we look across the sea to the USA the Republican Party have consistently failed to engage and reflect the diverse communities that now exist across the USA and as a result have struggled to maintain a winning vote share at the last two presidential elections which have seen the Democrats take the electoral prize. This isnt because BME communities in the USA dont believe in many of the traditional values of the Republican Party but that they see a party that have traditionally opposed many of freedoms that they now have to over come barriers they faced from discrimination and social injustice and who have failed to be a party that actively looks to reflect the communities it claims to represent.

In 2010 the Conservative Party managed to convince just 16% of all BME voters to trust us with their votes, this compares to 68% of BME Voters choosing to vote for the Labour Party. This is an example of the dangerous curve the party is on that reflects the situation that has already played out across the pond in the USA.

Its not that because of your ethnic background your more likely to be a socialist or less likely to support business or believe in traditional conservative either social or economic values. In fact in most polling many voters from BME communities do have traditional social and or economical conservative values much more aligned with a Conservative ideology than that of a Socialist one. However over the years just like in the USA communities have seen the "Conservative Party" oppose many of the progressive advances in equality legislation and seen unhelpful rhetoric when discussing topics about immigration that have at times fell into the realm of race rather than robust policy and reason. This perception and dialogue of policy is one which it is hard to challenge and over come and one which can be a self perpetuating vicious circle with less BME faces out discussing the party the image of a White internally focused out of touch with cultural issues is one we have to accept as Conservatives some BME voters have of the party, rightly or wrongly if we are to move forward we need to accept the perception and views that are out there and challenge them with the actual party that exists and that I am proud to be a member of today.

As Conservatives we shouldn't be afraid to look at the issues and challenges many people in BME communities still face: higher than average deprivation, higher levels of unemployment, hate crime, impact of failed multiculturalism policies and need for integration. These aren't political correct madness or minority issues of little importance but are the key if we are to show how Conservative values are values that can give success to all communities in the UK and that as a party we are working to empower communities to help develop solutions to the challenges they face. This will take more than nice words and friendly faces like mine reaching out to different groups. What is needed is real policy engaging communities, the third sector and key stakeholders to develop actions that can help individuals facing the barriers and challenges I've highlighted, empowering them to  reach the success they deserve regardless of their background.

Policies and actions need to be local and national its no good parties simply doing what we have always done before coffee mornings and other standard local association events (although of course we should continue to run these events as well) but we should be looking to attend events organised by third sector or community organisations in BME communities whether they are traditional Tory heartlands or not. We should be inviting key stakeholders onto conservative social action planning groups again whether they are already conservative members or not and we should be making sure messages we develop are not "This is what we will do for you" but "This is what we can do together".

Im Proud to be a member of a Conservative Party that is evolving and moving forward in 2013 a party that is proud of its traditions and believes its values of aspiration hard work and success are ones which are not only for one community but for ALL communities.

Now its time to get out there and truly show we are all in this together.


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Help give a little girl the chance of life

My friend got in touch on Facebook this week to ask me to help promote a campaign to support a little girl. This little girl is called Amelia Mae shes has been diagnosed with the aggressive form of childhood cancer known as Neuroblastoma. 

Her only chance in fighting this horrendous disease is a life saving trip to the USA and a chance at a newly developed treatment that could give a little angel the chance to enjoy the life she was born to live.

The only way children in the UK can get treatment for this terrible disease one that takes children's lives so young is by getting onto a clinical trial here (which is so difficult) or parents have to rely on the support of charities and fundraising to go to the USA and pay for newly develop treatments not available here on the NHS.

Reading this I was truly touched at the care and love for their children from truly dedicated parents and the strength many of these children have in the face of such terrifying circumstances. Anything we can all do to help support these parents help their children, and to give a child the chance of a life is something that pulls at the core of all our humanity.

Please read Ameila's Story and information about this horrendous disease and help save a life today.

Amelia Mae's Story and Just Giving Page

Learn about Neuroblastoma and UK Charity set up to children and their families


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Extending Civil Partnerships would be like renaming Christmas as Winter Wonderland Celebration

I am what would be described as a modern Conservative I joined under David Cameron's leadership after beginning my  political life as a young Blairite supporter in the Labour Party. I joined the party after seeing David Cameron and others vision for the future, a Conservative Party built around opening up the party's values to all, uniting people across society from all backgrounds behind the Party's core values of success built on hard work, economic restraint,  fairness and liberty. 

The Equal Marriage debate symbolises the future of the party it takes the traditional institution of marriage one that all conservatives value and says "no one should be denied the benefits it brings to people's relationships". The policy is about extending the benefits of conservative policy and perspectives to the modern society and the world we find ourselves in today. When I speak to other conservatives young and old who are looking to our future this is the direction they see the party going if we are to maintain our broad church, reach out to wider society and ensure its conservative values that our society is built on this is the road we need to travel.

A modern vision for the party is far from turning our back on the party's old values and supporters but enhancing and extending them to all voters. That is why the idea of extending civil partnerships is one that doesn't fit this agenda. It would be to set up an alternative to marriage akin to re branding Christmas as a winter wonderland celebration. The bill before parliament aims to enhance and promote marriage, it is as conservative a institution and concept as it gets. Where as ironically the suggestion to create a parallel institution to this one of Civil Partnerships for all would suggest marriage isn't necessarily the best option for relationships and be at odds with the core conservative value of marriage directly.

Its time as Conservatives we looked forward, the future of the party stands on the right side of history on equal marriage and I'm proud I intend to be part of that future.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Conservative Party future can be defined by marriage for all

Today we have heard MPs from all sides of the House of Commons speak in support of Equal Marriage. Overwhelmingly there is a simple message everyone should be able to celebrate their love through the great institution of Marriage.

However it would be wrong to deny that there is not a significant minority who do oppose the idea of Equal Marriage the idea is opposed to their values and the values of the religion they hold close. This is also true of a minority in the Conservative Party.

What is telling though is not that some Conservative MPs oppose Same Sex Marriage from a cultural commentators perspective that is something that would be expected from history, but that a large number support it and that its a Conservative led government who is introducing equal marriage. When we look at polling of younger members in the party the support for equal marriage extends further.

What does this all mean? Is it that the conservative party is slowly selling out to a political correct agenda? or has the party been infiltrated by the left? If you listened to some in the media and indeed those claiming to speak for the Conservative Grass roots you would believe that to be true. Reality is that the Conservative party is changing, its is changing because times are changing, social perspectives are changing and people are changing. When I talk to fellow Conservatives under 35 the politics I see is one built around being united on Thatcherite Economic Policy, principle of success through hard work and the values of liberty, freedom and Diversity. This is also the message in a similar terminology coming from the so called modernisers in the party. Policies such as Equal Marriage are not about selling out, not about swinging left right up down or indeed out of control (if you believe some of the commentators) but about swinging behind a traditional institution. The Policy is saying the door shouldn't be closed to some as it has in the past from being able to benefit from the benefits of marriage simply because of their sexuality when in 2013 we consider people equal regardless of race sexuality gender or any other protected characteristic. As Conservatives we want everyone to benefit from the values we hold close and that we believe help achieve a society that is successful fair and one where liberty is at its core. This is a message that those still shaped by the culture of the past and shaped by their own religious perspective has been hard to see as one they can support, however as we go forward and the mist of change becomes clearer we will see people who have wrestled with their own consciences seeing the positives in other embracing their conservative values they hold close and we will see a country that is better for it too.

The Equal Marriage debate is a metaphor for change in the conservative party and its change for the better its time we wedged open our dusty wooden doors that have kept our values only accessible to some and made them accessible to all. I'm Proud to be a member of the Conservative Party and I want many more people to join and be proud too.