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Should black people vote Tory?

WITH THE European and local elections being held next week (May 22) political parties will be desperately trying to get their core supporters out and to the polling stations. Black Britons have traditionally leaned heavily towards the Labour party, but are our votes taken for granted and should black people break with tradition and vote Tory?


YES
Maurice Mcleod

I JOINED the Labour party as a teenager and have never voted Tory in my life. I sincerely believe a more socially- aware, community-focused Britain would be good, not just for black people, but for everyone.

Everything about the Conservative party, from its name to its composition, suggests it is there to protect the status quo. It looks and acts like the party of the powerful.

Despite all of this, I still think it would be a disaster if black people en masse file into the polling booths and blindly put their marks by the name of whichever Labour candidate happens to be on the ballot.

Labour has taken black votes for granted for decades and Conservatives seem to view us as a lost cause. If black people’s votes are not up for grabs, there’s no reason for any party to create policies which will benefit us.

Tory think tank, The Policy Exchange, predicted in a report launched earlier this month that minority ethnic communities will make up a third of the electorate by 2050. Black people are as diverse in their views and circumstances as anyone else. Disengaging from politics or blindly following any particular party mutes those diverse voices.

The rising popularity of UKIP is pulling all parties to the right. I call it the ‘Faragification’ of British politics.

Mainstream parties are falling over themselves to show that they can be tough on immigration. Organisations like Operation Black Vote (OBV) have long urged minority communities to harness their political power and influence policy making in a similar way (but possibly in a different direction).

Everyone, from whatever background, should look at the policies on offer and make a considered decision. If the answer to ‘should black people vote Tory?’ is ‘no’, there’s no reason for any party to pay more than lip service to issues that impact on our communities.

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NO
Esther Akinnuwa

THE FIRST thing that springs to mind is the Channel 4 documentary Cameron’s Black Tory about Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones.

Despite the fact that I was very familiar with his situation campaigning in an area where he was faced with racism and opposition within his own party, I still felt that he was in a party that didn’t actually accept him but used him as a vehicle to get more recognition from the black and ethnic minority community, in order to widen their voter demographic.

This is not to say that I think that all black people should vote for the same party. I’m very aware of how diverse we are and also embrace it.

However, the reason why I’m arguing that black people shouldn’t vote Tory is not just because of race but because of every under-represented group there is in this country such as women. For my master’s degree I wrote my dissertation on Condoleezza Rice, questioning her position as a Republican. I also discussed my project with Oona King, Baroness King of Bow, and she stated that: “It’s particularly grating when black people don’t recognise that right-wing policies disproportionately damage black communities. But there it is! Condoleezza Rice is just like Margaret Thatcher: an extraordinarily impressive woman who did nothing for women.”

Should black people vote for the Tory party? No, you vote so that your view can be represented not just on the basis of your exterior but the issues that you face. The truth is that most of the Tory party lack understanding of what it means to be part of a minority. So how can they represent you?

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Our community speaks with many voices. Each week we bring you opposing views on a topical issue affecting black people. The arguments are crafted by the talented pool of writers from Media Diversified (www.mediadiversified.org), which aims to encourage greater diversity in the British media. What do you think? Join the debate.

Compiled by Maurice Mcleod

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