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.

For example in December I had the privilege to organise a visit for our leader Sir Vince Cable to the Swindon Hindu Temple & shall be doing the same in March to visit the largest Hindu Temple in the UK the BAPS Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden. On the latter trip I shall also be joined by Caroline Pidgeon AM, Chris Maines & Simon McGrath of rhe London Executive, Lord Dholakia & others. This is a clear example of how we can have a large Lib Dem contingency out in full force engaging with a particular BAME community, in this case the Hindu community. Such visits & events can and must & can be emulated all over the country in order to maintain and build a long-standing relationship with the various communities, this is another area in which a Vice Chair for BAME Communities would be able to assist all associations across the UK with their pre exisiting relationships with the community. The creation of this role as proposed by Lord Alderdice is an almost essential part of the process of us reaching out to all in our country and welcoming them to our party which truly believes in ‘Unity in Diversity’. Of course for all of this be put into practice properly and to make it more fruitful it is necessary that the individual acquiring such a position, is someone with a large footprint in the BAME communities across the UK and one that has standing in as many communities as possible. This would allow for us to reach out to as many communities as possible.

I am filled with confidence that the Liberal Democrats is an outward looking, tolerant and respectful party & will see the benefits of the Alderdice Report and all the hard work that has been put into it. In return if we can look to implement various recommendations and approaches it stands only to make us a stronger force and take on the ever more left wing Labour party & right wing Tories. Now is the time for us to engage with all communities and attract them to a party promoting common sense, equality, unity in diversity and not tribalism & divisiveness.

* Kishan Devani BEM is a Vice President of the Liberal Democrats Campaign for Racial Equality, a member of the Liberal Democrats' Federal Board, the Treasurer's Envoy and Vice Chair of Liberal Democrats in Business

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Feb '18 - 12:51pm


    Welcome that you are with us and write here. A very good piece. An excellent report .

    As you have probably gathered John Alderdice is an outstanding colleague and friend , a true Liberal and Democrat. He and our marvellous sister party in Northern Ireland contributor to the peace in that land troubled before and worried ever.

    We need to do what is suggested and already taking place as a result of these recommendations.

    We must be imaginative. We must be enthusiastic . We are not riven by division and nastiness. We are at best warm and friendly, at worst, complacent and flat.

    We may get better quickly, or not, but we shall get better and stronger.

  • Sue Sutherland 11th Feb '18 - 1:25pm

    It would be good if members of the BAME Lib Dem’s could respond to this.

  • Richard Underhill 12th Feb '18 - 9:48am

    John Alderdice was the first Speaker of the devolved Assembly in Northern Ireland which resulted from the Belfast Agreement. He chaired meetings in which the late Ian Paisley and former Sinn Fein President were present. As President of the Liberal International he arranged a conference in Belfast attended by the then Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, who had a coalition deal with President Robert Mugabe. John Alderdice has also spoken at the United Nations. He was the Alliance Party’s candidate for East Belfast.
    The devolved assembly has not met for more than a year, which is a disgrace.
    The BBC is reporting today that the two Prime Ministers will attend the talks.

  • Richard Underhill 14th Feb '18 - 8:01pm

    Former Zimbabwe PM Morgan Tsvangirai has died today.

    Yesterday Theresa May was full of hope about the negotiations in Belfast. Today the pessimists have been proved right. Despite the cabinet reshuffle, the lengthy negotiations and the presence of two Prime Ministers the two largest parties in Northern Ireland have disagreed. Theresa May should ditch her coalition partner at Westminster and rely on the Fixed Term Parliament Act and her incumbency as PM. She should also think carefully about

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