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The pivotal role we all play in politics

simon-woolleySimon Woolley looks back at the party conference season and the dilemmas and challenging facing Black politicians

David Cameron ends the political party conference season as the clear favourite to become the next Prime Minister. Echoing Dr Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, Cameron hoped to fill in the visionary void that was so absent from his Shadow Chancellors speech made earlier during the week.

With not too much detail Cameron successfully conveyed his sentiments as a family man, and man who has had is core shaken by the death of his young son.

But how will Black Britain view this very possible Prime Minister in waiting? Well, there are reasons to believe that the new Tories want to show their diversity credentials.

It was no accident that prospective parliamentary candidates Shaun Bailey, Helen Grant and Shadow Cabinet member Baroness Sayeeda Warsi sat directly behind Cameron during his hour-long speech.

Furthermore, Warsi and Bailey are key figures within the Tory hierarchy often wheeled out to represent a more modern face of the party.


Baroness Sayeeda Warsi

But therein lies the danger; will the new faces demand a new thinking towards BME communities or will they be used to maintain a cultural status quo?

I know both individuals, particularly Sayeeda who in many ways cut her campaigning teeth with OBV back in the late Nineties, when OBV first set out.

They are both strong individuals but need to be careful not to be seduced by their new found attention particularly if that then translates in any denial of race and religious inequality.

For these BME individuals it will be a particular high wire act that includes keeping their party faithful happy and our communities that are at times sold out for personal ambition.

If the Tory party is to lead the country after the next election we’ll need extremely able BME politicians such as Grant, Bailey, Warsi, Priti Patel and Wilfred Emmanuel Jones – aka the Black farmer – who’ll instinctively know when to hold the line and say to their party bosses ‘we need to change tact’, or ‘this is not good for our communities’.

If anything, what I have learnt over the last few weeks, during this last major party conference season before the most important General Election for more than a decade, is that the Black vote will play a pivotal role.

We, as an electorate, have our role to make crucial demands on all the political parties, and the politicians, knowing what is at stake, have no choice but to listen.

For now, though, I’m glad there are no more party conferences! Now I can enjoy the rest of Black History Month.


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