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OBV Exclusive: Clegg’s Pitch to Black Communities

Photo Author: Nick Clegg (via the official Flickr account)

Clegg: "Human rights, and opportunity for all."

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg writes exclusively for OBV about Liberal Democrat policies for BME communities.

I was taught, from a very early age, about the dangers of intolerance. My mother, who’s Dutch, spent several years in a prisoner of war camp during the Second World War. My grandmother had been forced to flee her home in St Petersburg during the Russian Revolution.

So, against that backdrop, I developed a strong commitment to human rights, and to opportunity for all. That’s my liberalism. And, when I ask you to vote for the Liberal Democrats on May 6th, it’s those principles I’m asking you to choose for Britain.

Labour has failed on equality. If you’re from an ethnic minority you’re still more likely to be out of work; more likely to be on low pay; more likely to be hassled by the police when you haven’t done anything wrong.

And the Conservatives, despite being newly airbrushed, have no intention of putting that right. Otherwise, why would they continue to stoke up social divides? They talk tough on crime, promising to relax the rules on stop and search. They pander to the right on immigration, promising a cap that would mean even turning away British people’s relatives who want to visit if they apply at the wrong time of year. And when it comes to human rights the Conservatives have only one thing to say: they’ll repeal the Human Rights Act.

Liberal Democrats are different. We’ll use the law to uphold rights, not put entire communities under suspicion. We’ll end discrimination in the workplace. And we’ll clean up our corrupt politics and make parliament a place that truly represents Britain.

First: making sure the statute book protects BME communities. Liberal Democrats are committed to equality legislation, we’ll uphold the Human Rights Act, and support a strong EHRC too. But we need to go further, ending what has been a systematic abuse of counter-terrorism measures. It’s a scandal that black men are six times more likely to be searched than white men. And that three-quarters of the people on the DNA database are young, black men – a database that holds a million innocent people’s records.

My party will take a whole new approach. Instead of victimizing innocent people, we will concentrate on catching dangerous individuals. We’ll make stop and search intelligence-led, and we’ll end abuse of the notorious Section 44. We’ll get innocent people off the database too, and we’ll repeal control orders and 28-day detention, delivering fair trials instead. The PREVENT programme, which currently alienates Muslim communities, also desperately needs to be reviewed.

Second: we’ll end discrimination in the workplace. Right now, someone with an ethnic minority name has to apply for twice as many jobs before they’re hired. Labour hasn’t made the workplace fair. They’ve grown complacent towards enduring prejudice, when what we need is a government determined to root it out. That is going to take new ideas, and I believe some of the most simple measures could have a real effect. Like name-blind job application forms, where names and personal details are hidden or blanked out to give applicants a fair chance of an interview. And the Liberal Democrats will introduce fair pay audits for companies as well, so unscrupulous employers won’t be able to get away with paying some people less than others when the work is the same.

Third: decent, representative politics. After the expenses scandal, it is going to take a radical overhaul of our broken politics to restore people’s trust in it. Liberal Democrats will give people the right to sack corrupt MPs. We’ll end the influence of big money in party funding. We’ll introduce fair votes, making every vote count. And we’ll lower the voting age to 16. If someone is old enough to die for this country, they should have the right to vote for its government.

It’s true that we need to get more people voting. But rather than make it compulsory, I think it’s politicians’ duty to give people a reason to come out and vote. And more people will if Westminster looks like a place they can relate to. We need a parliament that is much more reflective of modern Britain. Since I became leader 2 years ago I have been concentrating on making the  Liberal Democrats more diverse but I know that none of the major political parties including the Liberal Democrats have done enough. What we’ve found is that the problem for the Liberal Democrats isn’t really about getting candidates selected for seats – it’s getting them to come forward in the first place.

So we’re providing the support and encouragement to change that. Like through our New Generation programme, which helps activists, councillors and future MPs from BME communities achieve their political ambitions. We’ve also set up a dedicated Diversity Unit to make progress on diversity within the party. Promoting tolerance and breaking down prejudice are hardwired into the Liberal Democrat party’s DNA. I’m determined our own make-up reflects that.

A new politics. Attacking discrimination in the workplace with renewed vigour. Rights and a commitment to equality enshrined in law. It’s a different approach from Government. It’s the liberal approach Britain needs. If you like it, make it happen. On May 6th, vote for the Liberal Democrats.

By Nick Clegg

The Liberal Democrat party’ BAME manifesto can be read here.


17 Responses

  1. What a load of wishy washy nonsense – what does Mr ‘my parents have a huge french chateaux’ know about this subject??
    As a mother of mixed race sons who have excelled in school and University I know for a fact that if you work hard and behave well it is rewarded. No matter what colour you are. Black people don’t need the pity of this traitor. They need strong Black role models & firm parents. Try teaching your Black children to be a strong, God fearing, decent person and they wil prosper in life. Mr Clegg wants to expect you to believe that by letting in all of the immigrants he understands you….’sheesh’
    What it really means in economic terms is that your hard working, educated Black children wont be able to get jobs or housing anymore than the other citizens of this Country because people will be forced to employ the BEM of the Country – whatever that is. He’s the sort of man who still says ‘coloured people’……………..

    • Whether he delivers on his promises is questionable, but he gets my vote. Also, the 1st comment is quite ridiculous: “Black people don’t need the pity of this traitor” How is he a traitor? and how is that pity ? He simply wants everyone to be treated equally, no matter what race. Of course with hard work you can excel, but there are still traces of discrimination in this country and he wants to get rid of them. Nobody can “force” people to employ a certain candidate over another, so once again your argument doesn’t make sense.

    • God fearing? Is more fear what we and our children need? There is enough to be afraid of in this world. We don’t need to add god to that list. How about, God respecting? Why do they need Black role models? Why should skin colour even be an agenda for them? Can they not watch white, black, hispanic and asian role models alike? In all genders? Can we please have some real equality?
      I am the British side of a mixed race marriage and certainly do not feel that Labour have done anything for my family other than hinder our attempts to be good, honest, hard-working people. I am also well aware of the Tories attitude towards “foreigners”.
      Just because Nick Clegg is posh, doesn’t mean he can’t be a good, honest person. As a politician on the other hand…
      It is not pity. It is about bringing us what is right. Either there is a distinction in race or there is not, but we cannot play the race card only when it suits us.

    • mother of 4, have you read the artical? have you read the manifesto? have you researched political history?

      nick clegg isn’t perfect but his policys are sound, he is pro equality and he has more common scence than the other candidates.

      i agree that parenting is inportant like you say but all the drive, hard work and strength in the world wont help when you face real bigotry and inequality.

      there is a diferance between pitty and caring.

    • “He’s the sort of man who still says ‘coloured people'”

      Fascinating to come to a site like this and witness such prejudice. Why don’t you tell us what else you can infer from his accent and the colour of his skin?

    • Nick needs to focus on giving everyone equal opportunities, and making sure kids of any race/background know about their opportunities…..dividing people into different groups just segregates people even more….. Nick is on the right tracks which is not what I could say for the Eatonites (Conservatives) and Labour, well they have had enough time in power.

      And in response to mother of 4….the colour of a role model should not ever be an issue…kids should be taught to see the person and not the colour..try seeing people for what they are and not the outside appearance…i know this is idealistic but its possible…and this works both ways…no matter your race or whatever..we need to see a person not a colour…

      • sorry forgot to add….your prejudices are as evident as you proclaim him to be by your comment “coloured people”… prejudice works in many ways..try looking at your own first and then at othersss…it is evident you have a chip on your shoulder…if people focused these chips/resenments in actually positive action then we wouldnt hear and see the same old arguements…..

        try being positive and offering solutions and not critising…try doing something to change things and not merely talk about them.. (by the way, i am from a mixed background)

  2. I am a sixteen year old mixed race boy, my father is of afro-caribbean decent and my mother is white english. I think that the Lib-Dem’s approch to the issue surrounding race and discrimination, is outstading should be greatly concidered by minories when voting.

    I know from personal experience that police officers will make a decision to search or question someone, purely on assumtion and i think this is outrageous and has been greatly overlooked by labour. On many occasions I have been out with a group of people, doing nothing that I shoudn’t, and i have been hastled by the police boefore any of my white friends. I think that this is a form of harrasment and eeds to be dealt with.

    Almost everything i have seen regarding this election has made put me in support of the Lib-Dems but the frustrating thing is that I have absoultely no say in the outcome because I am sixteen, if i wanted to now i could leave home, get married, start a family and join the army, but i am not allow to have a say in the politics of this country. The fact that I am ‘too young to vote’ makes me feel mistreated and greatly patronised.

  3. I am wholly welsh married to a man whose dad fled Yugoslavia many years ago and found britain to be a safe haven, he worked hard and died from coal mining related disease (and we did not get compensation for that before anyone aks) I find current britain makes me more racist than I ever have been so I would welcome a governement who could address that as fairly as possible for the british nationals and anyone else who wanted to live here. However I would say to anyone wanting to live in Britain be it a British National OR a person from another country or culture, put something in to the country, respect your community and the people who have lived and contributed all thier lives, in this I want to make it clear I know of places in wales where no one wants to work or make a difference and just wants to take and I have been to places where people of different race, colour and culture are working damned hard. I hate racism of any kind for or against, I have been called white trash and could not defend myself for fear of a criminal record so I understand how some people feel however recrimination is not the way forward we have our borders open if we like it or not so we need to more forward and make a new future for all our children.

  4. I’m a 21 year old Mixed Race girl from Cambridge and before i got my current job, and countless times as soon as i entered the job-market, i have had to apply for twice, sometimes three times as many jobs as my white friends with English last names before i’ve even been invited for an interview.
    When i was younger hanging out with my friends in town if the police ever stopped us, they always focused their gaze on me for longer than them and always asked for my name first.
    I was no different from my friends is all i’m saying.

    The ‘mother of 4’ who commented on this on behalf of her sons is a small percentage. Her sons are lucky they had a good role model to teach them to be super hard-working professionals. But that doesn’t work with a lot of families in this country. And a lot of us only have GCSEs, so we have to get jobs in retail for instance, where there is always a ‘more cheerful’ blonde girl fighting to get your job, who also only has GCSEs.

    I agree with the Liberal Democrats. And i actually trust them, and trust me, i don’t actually trust easy.

  5. this article is true so true. I’m sick of it. Asylum seekers have more chance of getting a job than blacks. We fought in the War yet after we were used to clean up the NHS in the 60’s we were discarded and abandoned.

  6. I was looking at an opinion poll the other day, it was saying the Lib Dems could get 145 seats. Not one of those first 145 Lib Dem target seats contains a single non-white candidate.

    Talk is cheap….it is actions that count.


  7. I read the manifesto.

    I agree with Nick!

  8. I think Nick Clegg is by far the best statesman out of the three. I don’t really need to mention Brown. Cameron and Clegg are worlds apart though.

    Cameron wreaks of spin, I try to listen to his policies but all I hear is words. There’s no substance behind them. And what experience of culture does he have? I didn’t see too many black or asian faces in the Bullingdon Club photos


    Clegg may have had a privileged upbringing but his family came from different countries and experiences and seem to have instilled decent values. Out of the three leaders he has to know the most about diversity and tolerance. He’s married to a Spanish Catholic and he speaks 5 languages! Isn’t that the kind of progressive person we want to at the head of our government?

  9. i’ve been following your election for the last few weeks and i must say that I support this candidate, even though I can’t vote in your election due to my being American. I think that any time a candidate takes the time to address the specific needs of an ethnic community that candidate deserves to be listened to. Don’t get me wrong or anything, just cause Obama is president here doesn’t mean ethnic or non-white americans are treated more fairly than before.

    I agree with most of what he says because what he speaks on happens here as well. MInority men of color are more likely to be targeted by police for suspicion than their white counterparts. The same with names and employment. Though this stems from pop culture, have any of you read “Freakonomics”? In it, there’s a chapter called Is Roshanda By Any Other Name Just As Sweet? If your name is remotely urban (black american) sounding you’re not getting the job. You’re not getting the interview either.

    Also, you country speaks of promoting tolerance and fairness. My country is so weird about this when it comes to protecting the rights of non-white americans. You think you’ve got a problem there, come to the US. You’ll appreciate your country a little more. I think Nick is the best candidate of the three. He’d have to tweak his position on your Trident nuclear system and his stance on immigration to fully win me over. I don’t know if the other candidates to the time to address the BME, so I can’t say much on that.

    I hope you make the right decision come May 6th because your election effects us across the pond. Good luck UK.

  10. I come from the Great Lakes region of Africa. Naturalized British for a number of years now, I have been voting at different occasions for candidates and political programs I thought were defending my rights and supportive of my personal and collective ambitions as a community.
    What Nick is planning to do for minority groups is great on paper.The difficulty rises when it comes to practicalities.
    I am not contesting at this stage that his party won’t try to honor its promises. What I am saying is that any intended change in that area will only bear fruits in the long term.
    Despite his positive attitude towards minorities, there is instead a particular reason which makes me support his party. It’s Labour and Conservatives foreign policies towards countries and leaders of Rwanda and Uganda, Paul Kagame and Joweri Museveni, of places I come from and where I still have relatives. For the last 20 years, these 2 countries have been unconditionally supported with millions of British taxpayers’ money year after year, at the backdrop of millions of dead people they are responsible of. But since these African leaders are defending economical and cultural interests of Britain, apparently Labour and Conservatives won’t stop their support to these criminal leaders. This the main reason I will be supporting Nick’s party, hoping that the lib dem won’t do what the other parties have been doing in the Great Lakes region (Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi), supporting dictators, criminal leaders, who are oppressing and abusing their people in millions and in indescribable ways.

  11. I happen to be white and this is my experience of racism.


    I am also a member of the Liberal Democrats, As a political party, I feel that the Liberal Democrats are currently not representative of the entire country. This has to change and perhaps this election is an opportunity as it has made many more people aware of who we are and what we stand for. If after looking at our principles and policies you like what you see, please consider joining us.


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