Lee Jasper Senior Political Advisor to the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and now Chief Political Commentator for the Voice Newspaper argues why he will be voting for a hung parliament:
They’re a few events that can be truly described as a historic but last weeks Black Britain Decides event with all the main political parties fully represented was indeed worthy of such a description.
A broad coalition of organisations such as Just West Yorkshire, the 1990 Trust, Equanomics and the Black churches supported the meeting that was organised by Operation Black Vote.
2000 people crammed into Westminster Central Hall, London last Wednesday supplemented by thousands more watching the event through live streaming including the Guardian.
With almost everyone who was anyone in the field of politics and the black media in attendance the meeting had real gravitas.
The leaders chose to send their Deputies, but that allowed for a little more spontaneity than would have been possible if they had attended. The meeting lacked nothing for their failure to show and constituted the largest political rally of this entire election.
Harriet Harman addressed the meeting; the amiable Vince Cable Lib Democrats number two and the slick George Osborne Cameron’s deputy. Each had some warm applause and some real challenge from an audience who was in no mood to be patronised.
George Osborne struggled to keep the audience on side and at times looked out of his depth. He really had no substantive policy response designed to tackle race inequality except to suggest business mentoring schemes and civil servant shadowing opportunities both of which were popular with the audience.
Harriet held her own setting out Labour record on introducing the Race Relations amendment act and the establishment of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. All of which was warmly acknowledged by those assembled. She struggled when asked questions particularly in relation to stop and search.
Cable came on and held his hands up and pleaded ‘mea culpa” on behalf of the Liberal Democratic party, He said that they had been ‘ hauled over the coals and rightly so” by Operation Black Vote for failing to select more black candidates adding that he was forced to concede the Lib Dem’s had failed.
He spoke of tackling inequality and was very warmly received if whilst offering very little by way of substantive policy.
The highlight of the evening was the contribution of young people, black women and the Black Churches.
Tesfaye Smith, a young man from Brixton South London spoke of the grim realities facing alienated black youth. He spoke with eloquence and authenticity outlining the urgent need to restore opportunity and hope to young people whose lived experience leaves them brutalised and deeply cynical.
Then there was Bellavia Riberio-Addy a member of the National Executive of the National Union of Students. A brilliant student activist with an exemplary record of anti-racist campaigning. Bellavia had recently been bizarrely censured by the NUS President Wes Streeting for daring to challenge the BNP. She spoke with great insight, maturity and passion and the crowd roared with approval.
Evette Anderson, a young black women representing Equanomics whose focus on economic injustice in poor communities spoke about the historical role and critical contribution of black women and the importance of black women leading campaign alongside men. Speaking publically for the first time she was a revelation.
Finally came the force of nature that is the campaigning Bishop Wayne Malcolm who completely energised the audience with his eloquent appeal to capitalise and build upon the unique energy in the room. He called for urgent discussions between organisations to fashion a coherent and powerful unified coalition that could speak with one voice to Government. By this time the audience was ecstatic in appreciation and any one in attendance understood that something really very special had taken place.
With the election now almost upon us I have concluded that I am definitely joining the Hung Parliament Party. It’s my strong belief that we need, along with the rest of the country, to radically transform British Democracy if we are to stem the deep cynicism of the electorate in the political process. I believe that this election offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to send a clear message to the mainstream parties forcing all to think again about how to restore faith in the Parliamentary democracy.
Electoral and constitutional reform, the introduction of a more equitable tax regime, local government reform and tackling the countries debt crisis are all areas where radical solutions are needed.
My advice is come the big day when your hand is hovering over that ballot paper vote tactically to ensure that the main parties receive a massive wake up call. Doing so will send the political elite into a frenzy and in 18 months time when they fall out they will be forced to come back to us to seek a governable majority.
Surprised? I’m sure you are but come on, Gordon Brown is a walking disaster and the Labour leadership needs changing. How different this all could have been if a modern progressive such as Harriet Harman MP had been leader.
Cameron is Blair light, a unique triumph of public relations spin smoothly reassuring the audience that the journey to hell would be something they would really rather enjoy.
Clegg and the Lib Dem’s are championing electoral reform and I believe that this is more likely to be delivered within the context of a hung parliament. Ironically a Lib Dem surge would probably reduce the number of black MPs getting elected. However, it might be a price worth paying. Under a system of proportional representation black communities could see the number of elected officials increase dramatically.
Use you vote wisely, vote strategically, vote for a hung parliament and poke the establishment right in the eye.
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