Press Release: Westminster celebrates new wave of potential Black politicians

Senior politicians Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, Labour Minister Rt. Hon David Lammy, Conservative Chair Eric Pickles, and Plaid Cymru leader Elfyn Llwyd paid tribute to a new generation of BME Prospective Parliamentary candidates (PPCs).

‘We’ve got to do politics differently’, demanded Mr Clegg, ‘how can we command respect when we engage in yah-boo politics, and we don’t nearly look like the people we seek to serve’. Speaking to the 50 or so PPCs Mr Clegg concluded, ‘your success will be all our success. We must hope it comes sooner rather than later’.

Conservative party Chair Eric Pickles proclaimed his party had made the greatest improvement in its history in regards to representation, but argued, ‘with the help of Operation Black Vote we will not rest on our laurels. We know we must continue at least at this pace. Westminster needs less politicians like me and many more like you’.

The UK’s highest ranking elected Black politician Minister David Lammy spoke passionately about the need for the new crop of politicians to inspire a new generation of young and BME people to get involved. ‘Today we are making history’, he proclaimed, ‘your role will be as a force that can transform Westminster and excite ordinary people to be agents for positive change.

Elfin Llwyd, Leader of Plaid Cymru stated, ‘having the first Black Welsh Assembly member from our party gave me immense pride as a party that wants to be truly inclusive. It is the start of a long journey in which we have some way to travel. I look forward to that journey with Operation Black Vote.

Other speakers included Conservative PPC Helen Grant, who spoke passionately of her ‘humble upbringing to achieve success as a businesswoman, a mother and now a PPC for the seat that will be vacated by the indomitable Ann Widdecombe’.

Rushanara Ali, Labour candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow stated that support from organisations such as OBV is crucial to PPCs. Ms Ali also made the pertinent point that ‘when government and other institutions dealt with gender, BME women were rarely the recipients of positive action’.

Rabi Martin’s, Lib Dem PPC told the audience he and many BME Lib Dems were impatient for real change in the party. ‘Our leader has much to answer. If they talk the talk, they must walk the walk too’.

OBV Director Simon Woolley said: This new generation of BME politicians brings a confidence, dynamism and a humanity which is very much in the Obama spirit. Their generation are confident enough to talk about race, but unwilling to be defined by it. Their success will be the UK’s success.

OBV’s Assistant Director Ashok Viswanathan said: These PPCs are the catalyst that brings young people and BME communities into mainstream politics and democracy into the 21st century. I believe their backgrounds and experience will help them to be effective and inspiring leaders.

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