Warning: use of a trigger word in this article
A few days ago, I was surprised to receive an email with ‘Vice President’ in the subject title.
‘Why would the Vice President of the Party be writing to me?’ I asked myself.
Then I realised that the ‘Vice President’ WAS me…
That email was the first of many congratulatory messages. It was sent to me by the ‘tour de force’ that is Roderick Lynch, the Chair of the LDCRE (Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality).
Since receiving his email, I’ve been able to get to know Roderick a bit better. I was humbled by his experience of running a business under the regulation of an allegedly corrupt Council. Roderick ended up losing - and then, after a hard fought battle, regaining - a £21 million pound contract. It was through his David v Goliath experience that Roderick became such a passionate supporter of the Liberal Democrats. Because individual members of our Party were willing to put their careers on the line to plead his cause. And help him win.
I look forward to working more closely with Roderick and the LDCRE team. I’m buoyed by Roderick’s stance that the word ‘No’ doesn’t exist in his vocabulary. He’s definitely the kind of person who, if there’s a problem, won’t go around it. He’ll go through it.
I think we’ll complement each other because I take a slightly more diplomatic approach (I think that’s the barrister in me). Watch this space – there are exciting times ahead. Starting from today.
I had the chance, at Conference, to set out the priorities I have for my Vice Presidency, the details of which can be found in my Manifesto.
In summary, though, they are as follows:
I believe there is a huge amount of incredible work on race equality already being done within the Party...
I aim to:
1. Connect those within the Party with shared goals on race equality to focus our efforts to attract new voters, members and candidates.
2. Consolidate and champion the work that is already in train and hold the Party to account in implementing it.
3. Identify and grow BaME talent within our Party, ensuring that they ‘have a seat at the table’ and that their voices are heard.
I believe that attracting and retaining BaME voters, members and candidates begins with the individual and needs to transcend Party politics...
I aim to:
1. Model and cascade means of integrating with BaME communities and organisations through community service and support.
2. Build networks of potential voters, members and candidates within BaME communities and organisations.
3. Recruit prominent BaME and other individuals to donate their expertise, resources and funds towards our race equality goals.
I believe that our voice needs to be heard on the public stage when it comes to changemaking in the area of race equality...
I aim to:
1. Act as a spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats on race equality issues within the media.
2. Advocate for the interests of the BaME community from a Liberal Democrat perspective on key panels, debates and discussions.
3. Attend major community events and contribute meaningfully to them as a representative of the Liberal Democrats.
I have already received an incredible welcome from fellow members into my new role. What I look forward to now, on behalf of those whom I represent (that’s everyone), is your support, connections, funds and knowledge so that I can work with the LDCRE, the RDC (Racial Diversity Campaign), the FPDC (Federal People’s Development Committee), the ALDC (Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors) and many others to achieve my goals, which are based upon the Alderdice Report.
On a final note, as I was writing this, I had to deal with the case of a young boy who attends an extremely caring, outward-looking secondary school, but where, despite its compassionate ethos, he is being bullied on the basis of his race.
When I hear that he’s being called a ‘Paki’ and that his ‘ethnic surname’ is being parodied and chanted at him in the school playground by gangs of up to 10 children, I have to pause. And remember that this is 2019. This is not 1979, when this kind of thing was both routine and tolerated. This is 2019.
This story shocks me, as a former school Governor.
As a parent.
As someone who, as a young girl, was bullied in exactly the same way. In 1979.
Outright racial abuse has to stop. Hidden racial discrimination has to be exposed and overcome.
Please stand with me in whatever way you can.
Starting from today.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:
“There are two days in the year that we cannot do anything.
The change in the culture of this Party begins.
Starting from today.