The adage goes that all politics is local. And I believe it to be true – certainly local to the individual for whom specific issues are a concern. Living and working in London you can enjoy one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the world. I can eat on any continent of the world every day of the week, you can pick virtually any country of the world and we have at least 250 from that country living near me in Kilburn, NW6. It’s just great!
Campaigning here is an education and a lesson in the rich tapestry of world politics and to be fully equipped for canvassing, a degree in geography is helpful. Since being the candidate in Camden and Brent I have learnt about the complex politics of south Asia, I understand the realities and tensions of the Middle East, see the importance of economic migration and the benefits of Europe but also see the positive and dramatic impact of the Caribbean and Africa on the local area. And I can say without equivocation – it’s all good.
But the challenge for us all is very simple. Do our Liberal Democrat politics look like the communities we seek to represent? Do we understand the issues and concerns of Diaspora families – do we have a grasp on the issues separating first, second and third generation families – do we see the community issues and how they can impact on collective perception and do we have in place real and genuine opportunity for all?
For these reasons and more we have established the Liberal Democrat Forum for Africa. It’s a group of people who have lived and worked in Africa, consider themselves to be African, have a shared heritage or just a vibrant passion and interest in the continent.
Many of the issues facing Africa are complex and entrenched but when it comes to poverty, education and economic fairness these are all Liberal Democrat issues. And that is where we want our discussion to focus…
So whatever your background or creed – if this is an area that stimulates you please do consider getting involved. Under the leadership of our Convenor, Cllr Michael Bukola and with Honorary Vice-Presidents Catherine Bearder MEP and Lord David Chidgey, we have a great start.
So if this is of interest to you, drop us a line – there is a Facebook group, we have an occasional electronic newsletter and are about to start a programme of events and discussion. To subscribe just email [email protected] with the title Forum for Africa in the header.
* Ed Fordham was councillor for Stoke West 1998-2002, stood for Stoke-on-Trent Central 1997 and is working full time for Dr Zufiqar Ali