Vice President Election: “Is the role of Vice President required?”, asks Tahir Maher

Editor’s Note: Liberal Democrat Voice has invited all six candidates for Vice President to submit an article in support of their candidacy. They are allowed to include two photos and video content. You can find out more details about the candidates and election, including the hustings tonight (Wednesday 8 December), here. Votes must be cast by 12 pm on Friday 10th December.

This article is by Tahir Maher.

The simple answer is Yes. But I suspect this is what you would expect from someone standing for the role. So, the question is, why is this role required?

In 2001 Lord Dholakia was asked to report on how the party could work better with ethnic minorities; other than a fund to promote ethnic minority candidates, not much else was done. In 2007, Issan Ghazni was commissioned and produced another excellent report. Unfortunately, this didn’t get implemented, either. By 2018 the party, still not satisfied with their progress interacting with ethnic minorities internally and externally, commissioned yet another report by Lord Alderdice, who published his findings in 2018. This role seems to be the only actual implementation from that.

We do well with Gender and LGBT+ related issues (or at least we try hard) and feel we are a party that supports minorities; unfortunately, our record of supporting and reaching ethnic minorities is well below par.

To put this into perspective, the population of the UK is around 66m, 83% is white, and 13% is Asian, African/ Caribbean, mixed race, Chinese, and others. This 13% is 8.5m people. Although we genuinely desire and try to support ethnic minorities, we don’t in a meaningful manner. We are becoming a party of a community and not communities. That is why this role needs to establish an outreach programme aimed to attract ethnic minorities.

Even Lord Alderdice highlights resistance, by some, to ethnic minorities based on who they are in his report. However, as a previous Regional and English Party chair, I have encountered more issues than I would like relating to racial incidents. This is a shame.

So, what can we do?

This role is about setting up an internal programme whereby ethnic minority members are given a chance to level up (horrible phrase – I borrow from Boris). I am a firm believer that members should be able to stand for elected posts for who they are and not be allocated to a position for what they are. Ethnic minorities are talented people, as any in our party – levelling up means providing ethnic minority members who need it to be trained up, mentoring, opportunity to undertake roles to build a record of success that takes them forward and become leaders of tomorrow. We also need more training internally within the party to recognise racial abuse.

We need an outreach programme that focuses on and engages ethnic minority communities and can make our campaigns more effective. In his 2018 report on Race and ethnic minorities, Lord Alderdice says: “Our commitment to liberal values is not in doubt, but what we’re doing isn’t working” we have a chance to now make this work.

I believe that I have the experience, vision, tenacity, the know-how to work with others in the party to make the changes. Taking Lord Alderdice charge, we need to make what we are doing work – that is why you must vote.

* Tahir Maher is a former Chair of South Central Liberal Democrats and lives in Wokingham.

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One Comment

  • Tahir,

    I hope you can answer a question from me.

    I feel you are vague in this article. What do you hope to achieve in your term of office and how would it be measured?

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