PROUD CONSERVATIVE: Festus Akinbusoye
WE ARE now officially in General Election season with political parties devoting themselves full-time to winning on May 7. The stakes, to me, couldn't be higher and the choice any clearer.
As the Conservative Party candidate for east London’s West Ham constituency, who also grew up and started his business in the area, I have come to love the diversity, dynamism and energy found in my local community.
Despite the difficult choices made by a Conservative led government to fix Labour's economic collapse of 2007/08, I wonder how many of you realise there are now almost 100,000 more black people in work than in 2010?
Additionally, the Conservatives have delivered a record number of apprenticeships with more than 66,000 started by young black men and women, who are getting the skills they need to get on in life, which is terrific news.
I am delighted to see the number of black people securing a place at university have increased by a fifth from 25,015 in 2010 to 29,995 in 2014.
Furthermore, standards among black pupils in our schools have risen more quickly than any other ethnic group, which is a remarkable achievement. Of course I want to see that gap close altogether, but we're heading in the right direction and must stay the course.
As a dad to three young kids and an employer, these are very encouraging developments.
To me, one of our proudest achievements has been a determination to fix the stop and search police power.
As a young black man growing up in London, I had my share of experience with stop and search. It is a Conservative Home Secretary, Theresa May, that has finally taken action by cutting the use of stop and search powers by a third from its peak under Labour in 2008/9, and ensuring all police forces sign up to a Best Use of Stop and Search scheme to improve transparency.
I am proud to be part of a progressive and modern Conservative Party that is fighting for the British people, regardless of religion, colour or race.
The Labour Party have taken the ethnic minority vote for granted and it shows.
Conservatives now have the largest proportion of candidates from BAME backgrounds; more than any other party, according to Operation Black Vote (OBV).
It is therefore clear that the only Party working hard to engage the black community is the Conservative Party.
Finally, I know the last five years have been difficult for many us due to difficult decisions made by the government; but consider how much worse things would have been had we not produced an economy growing faster than all others in the developed world. This growth did not happen by accident.
That's why this May 7 we face the most important General Election of a generation.
Would you rather a competent Conservatives delivering record full-time jobs and lower taxes or the chaos of Labour party who would put it all at risk by borrowing and taxing more?
The choice is clear.
Festus Akinbusoye is a Conservative candidate for West Ham in east London