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Why Labour is the only party that deserves the black vote

LABOUR: Jeremy Corbyn

A SURVEY by the Electoral Commission after the 2015 General Election showed that the BAME community were less likely to register to vote than their white counterparts. The reason for this shocking democratic deficit is a sense of disillusionment about politics.

A perception that our views are not listened to.

What’s tragic about our poor voting turnout is the fact that the ballot box is the one place our voices cannot be ignored. I believe we should vote because it is, for almost all of us, the only time we are ever asked for our opinion on what is best for us. We should vote because together our votes can make a difference to our community.

So, which political party should we, as black people vote for? Which party has the policies that would best serve the needs of the black community? I firmly believe that there is only one party that would do this and this is the Labour Party.

The Conservatives, for me, will always be synonymous with Enoch Powell, that ‘rivers of blood’ speech, and anti-immigrant policies, too often peppered with racist rhetoric. In contrast, Labour gave us the 1976 Race Relations Act, equality legislation and this year is the 30th anniversary of the historic election of four black MPs to parliament. All four, Diane Abbott, Bernie Grant, Paul Boateng and Keith Vaz were Labour MPs.

Let’s face it, the Tories have a terrible track record when it comes to the black community. Former Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, accused his own party of “endemic racism” and a former party aide to Margaret Thatcher and John Major, Derek Laud, described the Conservative Party as “essentially racist”.

Boris Johnson has described black people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”. It wasn’t until he was running for mayor, six years later, that he apologised, only to later write,“blacks have lower IQs”. The Conservative party did not censure Boris Johnson for these racist remarks.

Against this backdrop, it’s not surprising that black people haven’t fared well under the Tories. Unemployment amongst 16-24 year old black people is at 30% compared to just 13% amongst white people. Lack of opportunity and poverty has a knock on effect on the wellbeing of our community. Black people are over represented in our mental health institutions and the criminal justice system.

Black youth unemployment is double the national average and black graduates are twice as likely to be jobless as their white counterparts. This cycle of alienation and neglect of our young people and our community can only be stopped at the ballot box.

96 of the top 200 marginal seats have BAME electorates, large enough to make the difference, so putting an x in a box, the right box, has never been more important to the future of our families, young and old.

Research by equality think tank, Runnymede, shows that issues like unemployment and the economy are at the top of BAME voter priorities. So here’s what Labour will do for all of us;

All our children at primary school will receive free school meals, our schools will receive more cash, teenagers going to university will get a maintenance grant and our young people will not have to pay university tuition fees, even those going to university this year. For those working in the public sector the pay freeze will end and zero hours contracts will be banned. For almost all of our people there will be no increase in income tax and the minimum wage will increase to £10 an hour.

For the elderly: the winter fuel allowance stays as do free bus passes and pensions will still go up at least 2.5% a year. Unlike the Conservatives, Labour will be investing in social care and not imposing a Dementia tax that could see our elderly having to sell their homes to pay for their own care.

All political parties have much to do on race. But, there’s no doubt in my mind that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is committed to producing, and implementing, policies that will redress race inequalities endemic at all levels of society. He can only do that in government and he can get there with our help. Vote for hope on June the 8th. Vote for the many, not the privileged, entitled few.

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