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View from 'The Voice': Why we must use our right to vote

BITE THE BALLOT: Votes will be counted in a matter of days

THERE ARE many in the black community who say they feel disenfranchised by British politics.

Among the reasons for disillusionment are political parties who don’t seem to put the issues that face black and minority communities such as discrimination in the workplace, the unfair use of stop and search tactics by police officers and racial bias in the criminal justice system at the heart of their manifestos.

It’s easy to understand why so many of us choose to disengage from politics and are unconvinced that it means anything to their lives.

Not everyone in our community will be enthused by politics, especially in the lead up to a general election when candidates from all parties will be out on the communities campaigning for support. And not everyone will agree with some of the key policies that have been put forward.

However what is without question is that the black and minority ethnic (BAME) community must be part of the democratic process. If we don’t use our democratic right to vote the end result is that our community is not properly represented in Parliament or in any corridors of power on the issues that most affect us like high youth unemployment, disproportionate police use of stop and search and discrimination and a lack of diversity in the workplace.

All three major parties have developed key policies on these issues. But the only way we can ensure that these policies are translated into real tangible action is to vote.

Registering to vote and turning out to vote are the only things that politicians truly understand and the key way to ensure that they act on the things that they promise.

By not voting our community becomes one whose voice is ignored by policy-makers.

The right to vote is a privilege not to be taken lightly. Voting privileges were won for the common citizen with tremendous hardship and those who have inherited this legacy must exercise it responsibly today.

Refusing to vote is a sure sign that we are ignorant of the stakes involved at this general election.

There is far too much at stake in this election to remain neutral or abstain from voting.

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