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As the Tories Court the Ethnic Media

 

David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party in Britain is enjoying a prolonged honeymoon with the British media and has made an all-out bid to target the multicultural vote declaring the Conservatives to be "the party for all the people of Britain."


In an unprecedented move the Conservative Party leader, who has always been unapologetic about his plans to change his party's image and woo ethnic voters, has answered a series of questions pitched to him by journalists from publications representing the African, Polish, Asian, Muslim and Chinese communities in the
UK.

 

Whilst past Tory leaders rarely granted interviews to 'niche' publications, Mr Cameron has been advised that he needs to speak directly to the 'grass roots' of Britain's ethnic communities.

 

The interview for the website ethnicnow.com, comes a day before he marks his first year as leader of the Conservatives.

 

In the interview, he speaks of the challenges ahead:

"We need to do more to reach out to all communities. That is why I understand we have to stress the Conservative principles of tolerance and fairness, and ensure that our Party becomes more inclusive and relevant to those communities we wish to serve."

 

The questions put to Mr Cameron range from issues regarding his policy on immigration, representation and social responsibility.

 

African Voice Emenike Pio

Traditionally, ethnic minorities, including Africans in Britain, have voted for Labour. What is the Conservative Party doing to reverse the trend and encourage more British-born Africans to vote for your party?

 

The Conservative Party is a party for all the people of Britain, but we need to do more to reach out to all communities. That is why I understand we have to stress the Conservative principles of tolerance and fairness, and ensure that our Party becomes more inclusive and relevant to those communities we wish to serve.

 

First, I have made clear that the Conservatives want to give everyone the opportunity, and encouragement, to fulfil the basic condition of human fellowship: social responsibility.  This idea is central to my vision of the Britain I want to see. It is a Britain where we do not just ask what government can do, but we ask what people and society can do.

 

A Britain where we stop thinking the state has all the answers and start recognising that we are all in this together. A Britain where we realise we have responsibilities not just to ourselves, but also responsibilities to each other. If you agree with this, then you should support us.

 

Second, since becoming leader of the Conservative Party, I have emphasised that we need to be more representative of the country we aspire to govern. That is why I have underlined my commitment to ensuring that 10 per cent of candidates in Conservative-held or top target constituencies will go to ethnic minorities.

 

At the moment, it is not good enough that we have just one MP of African origin, Adam Afriyie. Prioritising the selection of candidates from ethnic minorities not only makes good sense in that we will be utilising a pool of immeasurable talent in our country, but will also ensure that we become more relevant to people from those communities. Right now, we already have over 50 minority ethnic Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, but much more still needs to be done.

 

Third, we have set up the Ethnic Diversity Council to address the need to better engage with minority ethnic groups in Britain. The Council will not only be a forum for discussion of minority ethnic issues. It will also strive to shape and influence the development of party policy and measure its impact on all communities.

 

We have also been working closely with Operation Black Vote to ensure that more people of African origin feel engaged with the political process and have their voices and opinions heard.

Fourth, we have been working closely with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to strengthen the civic and political engagement of sister parties in emerging African democracies.

 

We have been providing campaigning advice and other help and in return they have been facilitating stronger contacts with their ex-patriot communities in the United Kingdom with the Conservative Party.

 

These are all positive developments of which I am extremely proud, but I am under no illusion that much more can be, and needs to be, done.

 

Ethnic Now Pedro Carvalho/Iftakhar Ahmed - Co-Founders

You have purposely avoided talking about what your manifesto stance will be on immigration in much depth. Why is that? Are you afraid of upsetting the Tory old guard or are you waiting to elected before going down the usual route of calling for tougher borders?

 

There is always a temptation in politics to delve straight into the detail of policy before even articulating what the goal should be. I am a strong believer that principle must come before specifics.

Very recently, Shadow Home Secretary David Davis and Shadow Minister for Immigration, Damian Green, published a pamphlet entitled ‘Controlling Economic Migration’.

 

It served to do just that by exploring the options open in this area. Its conclusion was that a positive approach to immigration means seeing how it can make life much better for everyone involved.

 

Any coherent policy on immigration needs to take into account that it can never be simply measured in terms of the growth in the number of people in this country. It is a wider policy that must also address the demographic changes we are experiencing, the distribution of the population, the need for a flexible workforce, skills shortages in our economy, the pressures on public services, and the effects on community cohesion.

 

What’s more, the Conservatives understand that this debate needs to be conducted in a calm and rational manner to protect those immigrants already in this country as well as to ensure our country’s future economic and cultural prosperity.

The proposals outlined in the paper looked to do this by recognising that Britain benefits from immigration, but not all or any immigration.

 

A policy of controlled immigration will help plug our skills shortages, ensure the public service and housing infrastructure can cope and help to promote much better cohesion between the existing population and new entrants into this country.

 

An important part of enforcing it would involve having a proper Border Police Force, equipped with powers to track down immigrants who over-stay or illegally enter the country.

 

This is not only vital in terms of maintaining the country’s security, but will help protect immigrants already here by building public confidence in the system.  A socially responsible immigration policy needs to benefit all involved.


Immigration is an important issue, which deserves calm and serious treatment. We believe that Britain would benefit if a consensus could develop about the best way to handle it. David Davis and Damian Green’s recent pamphlet is an attempt to help build that consensus.

 

As a Notting Hill man, do you enjoy the diversity of the area and  London, in general? What areas of London would you recommend to tourists looking to see the best of London's diversity? For example; the best curry, best market, best West Indian food etc.

 

London is a truly remarkable city that we should all be immensely proud of. Its diversity brings with it such riches that you are left spoilt for choice in terms of cuisine, music, and cinema to name but a few.

 

If I was to recommend any part of London to someone looking to see the best of London’s diversity, it would have to be the Golborne Road and Portobello Road area. It is home to such vibrant North African, Iberian and African-Caribbean communities, and the markets here reflect that in the assortment of stuff they sell. I would strongly recommend a Saturday spent strolling through them.

 

With regards to cuisine, you cannot beat a curry at the Khas Tandoori on Chamberlayne Road, or curried goat from one of the street vendors during the Notting Hill Carnival.

 

Chinatown - The Magazine William Ong

The Chinese community is perceived as a silent community, keeping very much to themselves.  Yet the 2nd and 3rd generation British born Chinese are beginning to be very vocal about their life in the UK and want to be more involved with issues affecting them.  Political parties have made very little attempts to reach out to this affluent, well-educated, well-travelled sector.  How would the Tory Party reach out to them?

 

Political parties always need to find ways of reaching out to all the communities that make up Britain. It is very important that people feel involved in the political process, and that their voices are being heard. This is especially important for the Chinese community, who despite making a tremendous cultural and economic contribution to British society, are under-represented politically.

 

Right now, we have a Chinese Conservative Association, which only last year expanded with a specific new branch, the Northern Conservative Association. These provide a link between the Conservative Party and people of Chinese origin who are interested in Conservative politics.

 

These Associations hold events and forums with guests and speakers, giving the Chinese community an opportunity to not only engage more fully with Conservative politics, but also to raise the issues that affect them most. I am also very proud that 2 councillors of Chinese origin, Thomas Chan of Redbridge, and Edmund Yeo of Ealing, were elected for the Conservatives in May this year.

 

Moreover, the Conservative Party have also been establishing links with China. Just recently, a Shadow Cabinet delegation led by Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague, and Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox, made an official visit to Beijing and Shanghai to focus on strengthening our economic and cultural links with China.

 

Much more still needs to be done, but the Conservatives are actively making contacts with the Chinese population at home and abroad with a view to engaging with them positively for many years to come.

 

Goniec Polski (Weekly UK based Polish publication) Kasia Kopacz

Given the important contribution eastern European immigrant workers make to Britain's economy, What are your views on the new immigrants coming from Bulgaria and Romania?

 

There is little doubt that immigrants from all backgrounds play a valuable part to life in this country. Whether it’s economically, through their work and business, culturally, through music and the arts, or socially, through the vibrant communities they have established, Britain is a much richer place for their contribution.

Over the past couple of years, this has especially been true of the Polish population. I live in West London, and have experienced this first hand.


A positive approach to immigration means seeing how it can make life much better for everyone involved. It means seeing it as part of a wider policy, which addresses not just the growth in the number of people in this country, but also the demographic changes we are experiencing, the distribution of the population, and the balance between the need to fill the skills gap in our economy and increasing pressures on public services.

 

Controlled immigration ensures the public service and housing infrastructure can cope and avoids people coming here only to end up without work and on the streets as we are already beginning to see in London. It also helps to promote much better cohesion between the existing population and new entrants into this country.

 

That is why we have been calling for transition controls on the number of new immigrants coming from Bulgaria and Romania- a policy adopted by most other countries in the European Union. The government now agrees that this is necessary if we are to ensure that both people living here already, and those new migrants coming from those countries, are to all prosper.

 

The Trumpet Newspaper Femi Okutubo

 With the track record of the Conservative Party on Immigration, why should Africans, indeed Ethnic Minorities, support a return of the Conservatives into power?

 

The Conservative Party is a party for all the people of Britain, but we need to do more to reach out to all communities. That is why I understand we have to stress the Conservative principles of tolerance and fairness, and ensure that our Party becomes more inclusive and relevant to those communities we wish to serve.

 

First, I have made clear that the Conservatives want to give everyone the opportunity, and encouragement, to fulfil the basic condition of human fellowship: social responsibility.  This idea is central to my vision of the Britain I want to see. It is a Britain where we do not just ask what government can do, but we ask what people and society can do.

 

A Britain where we stop thinking the state has all the answers and start recognising that we are all in this together. A Britain where we realise we have responsibilities not just to ourselves, but also responsibilities to each other. If you agree with this, then you should support us.

 

Second, since becoming leader of the Conservative Party, I have emphasised that we need to be more representative of the country we aspire to govern. That is why I have underlined my commitment to ensuring that 10 per cent of candidates in Conservative-held or top target constituencies will go to ethnic minorities.

 

At the moment, it is not good enough that we have just one MP of African origin, Adam Afriyie. Prioritising the selection of candidates from minority ethnic groups not only makes good sense in that we will be utilising a pool of immeasurable talent in our country, but will also ensure that we become more relevant to people from those communities.

 

Right now, we already have over 50 minority ethnic Prospective Parliamentary Candidates.

 

Third, we have set up the Ethnic Diversity Council to address the need to better engage with minority ethnic groups in Britain. The Council will not only be a forum for discussion of minority ethnic issues, but will also strive to shape and influence the development of party policy and measure its impact on all communities.

 

We have also been working closely with Operation Black Vote to ensure that more people of African origin feel engaged with the political process and have their voices and opinions heard.

 

Fourth, we have been working closely with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to strengthen the civic and political engagement of sister parties in emerging African democracies. We have been providing campaigning advice and other help and in return they have been facilitating stronger contacts with their ex-patriot communities in the United Kingdom with the Conservative Party.

 

These are all positive developments of which I am extremely proud, but I am under no illusion that much more can be, and needs to be, done.

 

EMEL MAGAZINE (Muslim Lifestyle mag) Mo Bana

Would a Tory government see sport as key to providing a focus away from crime and drugs for young people and commit enough funding at ground level?

 

The Conservatives are absolutely committed to the positive potential sport has for young people. It provides a very positive avenue for young children as it not only gives a focus away from the dangers of crime and drugs, but also makes possible their interaction with people from a variety of other backgrounds and upbringings.

 

That is why we have commissioned an independent review of sporting facilities available to all children across the country.  The findings of this review will indicate how best to achieve our goal of ensuring that young people have access to regular organized sports facilities in the community and a chance to play competitive sport.

 

A good example of a successful scheme is the England and Wales Cricket Board's ‘Chance to Shine’ campaign that has taught an extra 45,000 schoolchildren, many of them Muslim boys and girls, to play cricket.

 

Asian Image (Blackburn's regional Asian paper) Shiub Khan

British Asians have been traditionally Labour supporters. How do you intend to change perceptions of the Conservative Party within the Asian community?

 

The Conservative Party is a party for all the people of Britain, but we need to do more to reach out to all communities. That is why I understand we have to stress the Conservative principles of tolerance and fairness, and ensure that our Party becomes more inclusive and relevant to those communities we wish to serve.

 

First, there are many principles that unite the Asian community with the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party see families as the bedrock of our society, and I have said a simple test for any of our policies will be if they help them. Conservatives also believe in local communities and want to see our neighbourhoods become stronger and more sustainable. I have made clear that you can sum up my political worldview in two words: social responsibility.

 

This is a vision of a Britain where we do not just ask what government can do, but we ask what people and society can do. A Britain where we stop thinking the state has all the answers and start recognising that we are all in this together. A Britain where we realise we have responsibilities not just to ourselves, but also responsibilities to each other. If you agree with this, then you should support us.

 

Second, since becoming leader of the Conservative Party, I emphasised that we need to be more representative of the country we aspire to govern. That is why I have underlined my commitment to ensuring that 10 per cent of candidates in Conservative-held or top target constituencies will go to ethnic minorities.

 

At the moment, it is not good enough that we have just one sitting MP of Asian origin. Prioritising the selection of candidates from minority ethnic groups not only makes good sense in that we will be utilising a pool of immeasurable talent in our country, but will also ensure that we become more relevant to people from those communities.

 

Third, we have set up the Ethnic Diversity Council to address the need to better engage with minority ethnic groups in Britain. Members of this council include Ranbir Suri, Mohammad Sheikh, and party vice-chairman, Sayeeda Warsi.

 

The Council will not only be a forum for discussion of minority ethnic issues. It will also strive to shape and influence the development of party policy and measure its impact on all communities.

 

These are positive developments of which I am extremely proud, but I am under no illusion that much more can be, and needs to be, done.

 

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