Author Archives: Teena Lashmore

Election diversity – as if by magic

The Conservative Government has called a General Election for 8 June 2017 after its leader Ms May repeatedly said she would not do so.

We have responded with the truncated General Election process to ensure a full slate of candidates are in place by June 2017.  This has seen candidates up and down the country engaged with internal applications and shortlisting processes in a bid to become the PPC candidates for this election.

As if by magic, we may well see our biggest ever selection of visible ethnic minority candidates making it to PPC status – fulfilling a personal pledge of our Leader Tim Farron, who openly seeks diversity for both internal and external political positions.

Mr Farron has frequently articulated the importance of diversity and our party’s credibility.  No doubt he will be pleased with the current wave of candidates being announced as PPC  candidates who are also known as ethnic minorities.

So far we have in first name alphabetical order: Alexander Cunliffe for Ruislip Northwood and Pinner, London; Anita Day for Grantham and Stamford; Anita Prabhakar for Mansfield;  Amna Ahmad for Sutton and Cheam, London; Brian Haley for Tottenham, London; Dave Ravel for Hackney South, London; Dawud Islam for Middlesbrough; Gitanjali Gordon for South Shields; Glanville Williams for East Ham, London; Hina Malik for Feltham and Heston;  Humaira Sanders for Ealing North, London; Irfan Ahmed for Blackburn, Manchester; Joe Naitta for Derby South; Joyce Onstad for Hammersmith, Marisha Ray for Chipping Barnet, London; London; Michael Bukola for Camberwell and Peckham, London; Nigel Bakhai for Southhall; Rabi Martins for Luton North; Sarah Cheung Johnson for South Cambs; Suzanna Austin for Kettering; Tahir Maher for Milton Keynes South; Ukonu Obasi for Walthamstow, London; Zuffar Haq for Harborough Oadby and Wigston; and Zulfiqar Ali for Huddersfield.

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BME or BAME LibDems?

I presented this question to peers, fellow Liberal Democrats and members of EMLD (Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats), after seeing the launch of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Manifesto in 2015, and I continue to raise this debate while holding office as London Region Vice Chair – because sometimes an acronym is important.

BAME is the acronym for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, whereas BME is the acronym for Black and Minority Ethnic.

The intellectual argument that ‘Black’ is a socially constructed political identity – a way to challenge the racism in England – became absorbed into ethnic and cultural identity politics.  Caribbean people felt their skin was not black but shades of brown.  Their post colonial ‘classification’ had evolved through a range of terms that included ‘coloured’, arriving at the destination term ‘Black’ at a similar time as ‘Afro-Americans’, or ‘African Americans’, or ‘Black Americans’.  The battle to maintain a dual identity, such as Barbados Brits, was less successful and the internalized dislikes of our Africanness during this time made ‘Black’ the compromise that most people could sign up to: one term – serving two purposes.

‘Ethnic Minority’ is used because white-on-white hating is actually xenophobia, but that could not fit neatly into our Race Relations Act because the Act was for the protection of victims against racism.  In order to protect cultural groups like the Irish and Jewish communities from hate, we needed a noun that encapsulated the common experience of all ethnic groups and we arrived at ‘Ethnic Minority’ and with our European countries (Germany), we also arrived at ‘Hate Crime’ to define the offending behaviours.

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Being a LibDem in Black History Month 2015!

bhm-logo600

Our party will officially celebrate Black History Month 2015, with photos of members celebrating their Black Heroes hosted on our website.  Event lists with Black History Month information is being mailed out to Local Party Chairs – alerting them about the eclectic mix of theatre, music, film and talks etc., taking place during this celebratory month of October.  The information is an aid to encourage us to take this celebratory month and embrace new cultures and new members from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Posted in News | Tagged | 8 Comments

Opinion: Liberal Democrats should debate ways of liberating our economy from the power of the banks

“Stronger Economy Fairer Society” was the strap-line that took us into the devastating General Election of 2015.  Some members wanted a fairer society that would support a stronger economy but regardless of which way we place these adjectives and nouns, it’s still unachievable without liberating the UK economy from our five major banks.

As long as our five big banks have the power to create money when they make loans, and lend it back to us at a profit, it is very difficult to see how our economy can achieve anything other than consolidating wealth into the hands of a few.  The Bank of England (BoE) and business generally is having less and less influence on how our economy expands and grows. Not only do we need to challenge this ‘status quo’, we need to radically overhaul the system and liberate the banking monopoly so that our economy functions to support our marketplace.

Properties in London have been sliced and diced according to an economic system that is essentially controlled by five big banks and this has overly inflated prices – driving up rents and sales. Homes for families are now filled with rooms for rent that are advertised as flats. We have less than 20 square meters for a bed, cooking and toilet facilities and are charged £800 per month rent. Generation rent (typically graduate students), are unable to save to buy a home due to ‘market rents’ sucking every penny from their incomes.

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Opinion: Don’t sell social housing

A Conservative housing policy is likely to exacerbate London’s housing crisis because it proposes to sell more social housing.

If we can sell homes at a discount of 70 – 80% of the ‘market value’, then what does that say about the market?  Simply put: London’s housing market is over priced – most likely by similar amounts.

At the University College of London’s seminar: “How Should we Respond to Rising Inequality” last month, political economist Will Hutton, David Goodhart and Sir John Gieve discussed reasons behind rising housing costs.

They talked about the impact of unmanaged markets, lack of supply, cartels in house building, land values underpinned by dysfunctional finance markets etc and unmanaged banking and finance systems. This is compounded by a lack of political will and vision.  Essentially, our government lacks the ability to ensure low costs housing remains in an ‘open market economy’. If these opposing forces can come together and agree, it is time housing policies do too.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 31 Comments

Opinion: London’s house clearing and what the Focus E15 campaign tells us

The introduction of the Benefit Cap and Housing Benefit changes is adding fuel to the gentrification of our urban centers, throwing out many small businesses that can just afford the London Living Wage, and pushing micro urban economies into a transition that will inevitably see the marginalized and low income workers evicted from London’s salubrious centre zones.

Local Authorities (LAs) are already reconfiguring their homeless departments which, if pursued to their natural conclusion, will see changes in their service delivery because officers will have to eventually move out with their service users – starting the same homeless process all over again in the outer areas.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 13 Comments

Opinion: Equality – a suggestion

Parliament square by Paul Walter

We have seen the application of the women’s Leadership Program.  This became necessary due to historical disadvantages.  If we could have trusted the political system, there would be no need to introduce such measures to achieve better representation for women.

I suggest we can achieve similar Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic representation, by learning from experiences and voting progressively.  Allow me to share…

I had a fantastic time running for Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PCC).  I crammed national policy into five days and along with dedicated enthusiasts, undertook the assessment day.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 25 Comments

Opinion: Let’s keep social housing in London

As the ‘housing crisis’ debates continue and all political parties table motions to attract voters for the 2015 elections, we in Hackney Downs feel it’s time to raise our campaign which is in support of social housing in London.

Our bold online petition is calling for London Local Authorities and Chief Executives to publicly declare their non-attendance and to actively refrain from selling our public land for housing at the property fair in October 2014 and thereafter.  The host boroughs have already done so and it is time the remaining boroughs follow.

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Opinion: Conference and Equality

I was personally heartbroken when Nick Clegg was left with no option but to publicly apologise for the party’s inability to uphold free tuition fees.  As my career path requires further university study, I was going to be hit financially and immediately.

Initially I deferred and saved manically but I recognise I am disadvantaged and that my humble beginnings continues to snap at my heels.  Every day requires personal strength and good friends to overcome the obstacles of privilege but every so often, I feel compelled to ‘spell out’ what and how ‘disadvantages’ continue.

My PhD begins on the weekend of the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 18 Comments
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