Home African Caribbean Can Caribbean Question Time influence Black vote

Caribbean news. Dubbed the tightest political race in modern history the general election scheduled for Thursday 7th May 2015, some 5 days away, much is being made of the significance of the minority vote.

In the race to elect the 56th British Parliament there are a plethora of policies and promises being hurled at the multicultural electorate, all in an effort to assume government to either perpetuate the status quo or govern the scarce resources with plans that have little or no bearing whatsoever on what existed over the past five years.

Paulette Simpson Senior Manager Corporate Affairs and Public Policy Jamaica National UK Office and Mr Earl Jarrett General Manager JN Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Paulette Simpson, Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs and Public Policy, Jamaica National UK Office and Mr. Earl Jarrett General Manager JN. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

With only a few days to go and politicking nationwide is at fever pitch among the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Scottish National Party (SNP), and The Green Party; it is not unreasonable to make one of two main predictions; that 1 – could there be a late surge of support for the Conservatives leading up to another coalition with David Cameron back in Downing Street or 2.  will Ed Miliband’s band of Labour comrades out-perform the incumbents in key and highly contested marginal seats creating an upset for the establishment? No one knows for sure.

One thing we do know for sure is that the  black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are not feeling an integral part of the process. The government basically operates as though these minority communities are inconsequential thereby invisible.

Panel l r Michael Bukola James Cleverly Dawn Butler and Dame Doreen Lawrence Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Panel (l-r): Michael Bukola, James Cleverly, Dawn Butler and Dame Doreen Lawrence. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Constituting 14% of the UK population and comprising 4% of the British Parliament, BAME communities are no more encouraged today to vote than at any other time in the history of Britain despite their socio-economic circumstances being worse than any other time before.

The issue of BAME apathy to voting has been championed by Operation Black Vote (OBV) which holds several objectives including: to urge our communities to register to vote; which has partnered with the Voice Newspaper and Jamaica National to deliver a focused town hall discussion on what British politicians intend to do for the BAME vote should they be elected to public office on 7th May 2015. This exercise which has been in practice for a few years is appropriately named, Caribbean Question Time.

Moderator Professor Kurt Barling Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Moderator Professor Kurt Barling. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Held on Friday 27th March 2015, Caribbean Question Time was held again at the prestigious 1 Great George St. Westminster, London, just around the corner from the Houses of Parliament. As was customary, FREE tickets were all out two weeks before the event attesting to the popularity of this well organised and publicised community event.

The line up this time consisted of Michael Bukola, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Lewisham Depford, Dawn Butler, Labour Candidate for Brent Central, James Cleverly, Conservative Candidate for Braintree and Dame Doreen Lawrence. The evening’s deliberations were moderated by veteran BBC broadcaster and Professor of Journalism, Middlesex University Kurt Barling who added copious doses of humour to keep interest and calm tempers.

As is customary, there was keen exchange of ideas and view points between pre-arranged members of the audience and in some cases audience members took aim at the Conservatives’ James Cleverly about his views on the effects of the SUS Laws on race relations in Britain.

Dame Lawrence emphasized the point that much has to be done to improve public confidence in the Metropolitan Police given their tarnished reputation by the McPherson Report that branded the organisation ‘institutionally racist’.

Dame Doreen Lawrence Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Dame Doreen Lawrence. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Dawn Butler was quite vocal about the need for Black people to vote and become magistrates in order to make a real difference to the  treatment Black people are meted out by the UK Justice system.

Michael Bukola is of the firm opinion that opportunities are on the increase for minorities as a result of the policies of the incumbent administration and Black folks must stop complaining and embrace the difficulties like everyone else for societal development.

Of the entire panel of speakers James Cleverly, Conservative Candidate  for Braintree was deemed by the audience as being the least au fait with the salient issues that affect BAME communities. His apparent inability to appreciate the level of distrust and contempt that exist between the Met Police and minority communities in Britain was evident and exposed him to immediate ridicule.

Operation Black Vote founder Simon Wooley centre Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Operation Black Vote founder Simon Wooley, centre. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

In summary, the consensus of the panel was that Black people wherever they are in the UK should turn out in force to exercise their civic responsibility and vote to make a change that they can be proud about. If we are to be taken seriously as a community that is a vital contributor to several sectors of the economy, not least the health and public transportation service, we need to participate in the electoral process.

Director of Operation Black Vote, Simon Wooley, reminded all that this election is not about the politicians and their flowery rhetoric but about the more than two million Black and minority ethnic people being treated as second class citizens (or worse) in the United Kingdom. He reminded all that this election is a numbers game and BAME’s have the numbers in the 168 marginal seats that can make a lasting difference. See Simon’s message on above video provided by AILTV.

This is the time to step up as a people and be counted…CaribDirect Multi-Media urges all of you who have registered to vote to step out and cast that vote…MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Green Party candidate Rashid Nix making a point Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Green Party candidate Rashid Nix making a point. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Contributor from the floor Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Contributor from the floor. . Photo courtesy CaribDirect




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