Author Archives: Kishan Devani

Taking on persistent discrimination and racism

As we reflect with horror on the murder of George Floyd we must now consider what can be done to address the racism and structural discrimination that continue to affect the lives of members of our BAME communities. The strength of feeling and the protests internationally during the four weeks since George Floyd’s murder have provided a call to action and a stark reminder of racial discrimination.  This comes in the wake of research identifying the greater vulnerabilities of BAME communities to Covid-19.  Racism that has persisted stubbornly for years has been brought to the fore by the Black Lives Matter protests and counter-protests last weekend.

We need to acknowledge the mistakes made in the past and we need to implement effective measures to tackle racism in our society today. I listened to Ed Davey in the House of Commons ask the Prime Minister about the discrimination behind suspicion-less stop and search.  If you are a black person you are 47 times more likely than a white person to be subject to stop and search.

The Government must move further and faster to redress institutional racism in the criminal justice system and many other parts of our society.

The Liberal Democrats have joined with BAME communities in calling for a government-wide race equality strategy, so Boris Johnson’s Commission on Racial Inequality is a welcome first step. It shows that the Black Lives Matter campaign has had an impact which is to the credit of everyone who has raised their voice against racial injustice over the last month.

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Vince is right: we must revisit our rules

Vince is most definitely right: our party’s 12-month rule is arbitrary and should be removed. The randomness of such a timescale before a member can stand as a candidate for MP, mayor or the GLA is exposed by the fact that Scotland’s rule is only nine months. It also makes new members feel unwelcome, their commitment automatically doubted.

I hope no-one would doubt my loyalty or my passion for our party, which is my natural home. Since joining the Lib Dems in December I have campaigned and spoken at innumerable associations across the length and breadth of London, helped out in St Albans and have been asked to speak and assist in Cheltenham, Leeds and Stratford-upon-Avon. I have probably met more Lib Dems than many lifelong members.

Someone like myself, who has campaigned at grassroot level for months for the London local elections, who stood for council within six months of joining the party, should also have the opportunity to stand as an MP, London mayor or the GLA.

Yet the 12-month rule says, in effect, that I do not know the party well enough to do so. If that is the case, why has the party appointed me as Vice-President of the Liberal Democrats Campaign for Racial Equality or elected me Vice-Chairman of Lib Dems in Business? Or Mike German sought me out to be the Treasurer’s envoy?

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Implementing Alderdice’s recommendations will make the Liberal Democrats stronger

Having joined the Liberal Democrats only around 8 weeks ago it was heartening to see that various recommendations & thoughts I expressed to Lord Alderdice in December were included in his comprehensive report. John’s enthusiasm and will to drive change with Baroness Brinton’s vision of change can be felt throughout this report.

For myself personally, it was incredibly positive to see a party that is truly looking to engage with the BAME communities. Having been the Deputy Chairman of the London Conservative Party, stood for Parliament & the GLA for them, I had almost given up hope on political parties wanting to truly engage with the needs of minority communities in the UK. However this report is the beginning of a movement which each and every one of us in our party can be a part of, and we as Liberal Democrats can be the champions of this for years to come. It makes me proud that I left the Conservatives for a party that is progressive and that wants to deal with issues head on and tackle inequality of all kinds. In order to attract the wider BAME communities to the Lib Dems practical tips such as

  • Ensuring that your local party group makes and implements a plan for engaging with race and ethnic minority communities in your area.
  • If you want to bring in young people from communities, don’t expect older community leaders to be the most suitable magnets.
  • Everyone has a contribution to make in engaging BAME communities and individuals at all levels.

have been outlined in the report. These need to be studied and examined within all of our constituency associations in order to truly build on this report and allow for its various facets to be implemented.

In addition to this i was extremely pleased my suggestion to Lord Alderdice in regards to adopting the role of Vice Chairman of the Liberal Democrat Party for BAME Communities – has been included. John understood the necessity of such a role to allow us to connect to communities all over the UK. A Vice Chair for BAME Communities would allow us as a party to engage with grassroots of various communities and give those psrticular communities a particular individual as a port of call for them to engage with. This would enable the diverse communities to build.a rapport with our party via a particular assigned individual. So when communities would like to raise issues, concerns or suggestions they have a particular person they can approach and seek assistance from. In addition, this would also allow our many local diversity champions across the country to work together more coherantly, as the Vice Chair would be someone they can approach to reach out to their various diverse communities locally. It would also assist them to share good practice, such as what is going on in Kingston, Richmond, Twickenham, Tower Hamlets, Haringey, Hackney & Sutton just to mention some. By sharing this good practice via one particular individual you are able to give it structure and allow our diversity champions to feel comfortable and guided in their somewhat current ambiguous & difficult roles.

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Recent Comments

  • Fiona
    All good stuff - I can't disagree with any of it. It would be fantastic if politicians could put aside tribal bickering and posturing and got on with the stuff ...
  • John Marriott
    Addiction to drugs is an illness. It should not be treated as a crime. The current method of tackling the problem has been an abject failure. We need to decrimi...
  • TonyH
    I'm confused. For a party they constantly say is finished and irrelevant and an MSP who they say is a nobody, why devote an entire front page to us....? Politi...
  • Cassie
    I had the 'pleasure' of working with The National for a couple of years (circa 2015). I can confirm from my personal experience that no, they were not interest...
  • Brad Barrows
    It is a pity that Alex Cole-Hamilton has chosen to ignore the fact drug laws have been reserved to Westminster - he should have been bold and called for those p...