Lord Navnit Dholakia writes..Lib Dem BAME manifesto takes pro-active approach to valuing different cultures, combating racism and reducing inequality

My core belief that we all have a right to be treated fairly without reference to colour, race, nationality or ethnicity is one of the reasons I have remained committed to the Liberal Party and the Liberal Democrats for over fifty years. The party’s fundamental rejection of prejudice and discrimination is just as important now as it was when I joined the Brighton Young Liberals in the 1950s.

Britain has a proud record in race and community relations, but at a time when we see the rise of the divisive politics of parties like UKIP, it has never been more important for the Liberal Democrats to stand up for equality and diversity.

Today the party has launched its BAME Manifesto. It spells out how we will continue to protect the rights and opportunities of Britain’s ethnic minorities – the right to live in peace, to receive an education, to get a job, to raise a family free from fear, and, above all, the right to be treated fairly without reference to race, colour, national or ethnic origins.

Our culture and economy is stronger as a result of the diverse range of people who have chosen to make Britain their home. In government we’ve made huge progress in securing Britain’s economic recovery and helping businesses to grow. Self-employment and the small business sector is especially important for BAME communities. In the past 12 months alone a third of all the new businesses set up through the Start-Up Loans initiative have been by Black and Minority Ethnic entrepreneurs. But there is still more to be done to help BAME entrepreneurs. So we will build on the Coalition’s BME Access to Finance report to identify ways to encourage more BAME applicants to apply for finance and set up small businesses, and monitor and tackle the BAME pay gap. We will build on what we have already achieved in government by raising the tax free personal allowance to at least £12,500 by the end of the next Parliament, ensuring that many BAME workers who work part time or on low to middle incomes benefit from a further tax cut.

The economy is no longer national, it is global – but we rarely see the benefits of immigration being highlighted in the public debate. I am proud that Britain is an open, welcoming country which benefits from the skills of migrants, the investment from foreign businesses and the growth that results from the contributions made by migrants to our society. So we will complete the restoration of full entry and exit checks at our borders, in order to rebuild confidence in our immigration system. We will require working-age asylum seekers who have waited more than six months for their claim to be processes to seek work like other benefit claimants, and we will present to Parliament and annual assessment of skill and labour market shortfalls and surpluses and their impact on the economy. We want to protect migrants from constantly being the scapegoat by rebuilding trust in our migration controls.

We want to ensure that every child, no matter where they or born or the colour of their skin, has the same opportunity to reach their potential. We will invest every penny we can in education, increasing our Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000 per pupil per year, supporting local authorities in providing Children’s Centres, and ensuring that all universities work to widen participation across the higher education sector.

One of our proudest achievements in government has been to help more people than ever to start an apprenticeship, with 200,000 apprentices coming from a BAME background. We’ll continue to target the work of the Apprenticeship Advisory Group to increase the number of apprentices from BAME backgrounds, and specifically to ensure the recruitment of ethnic minority apprentices into sectors where they have traditionally been under-represented.

It is matter of great personal disappointment to me that BAME individuals still experience discrimination in the criminal justice system. That is why I am proud that our manifesto commits us to challenge this by improving the safeguards in police stop and search powers in England and Wales. We will also boost police recruitment from Black and Minority Ethnic groups and conduct a full review of the causes of overrepresentation of BAME individuals in the criminal justice system.

There are many more policies in the BAME Manifesto which promote equal opportunities in our society and commit us to tackling discrimination wherever we see it. The fact we are the only Party to stipulate our commitment to outlaw caste discrimination is an illustration of that.

Equality and fairness are the cornerstones of what makes a democratic society. With our policies published today, we will be taking a pro-active approach towards combating racism and discrimination, tackling inequality in all aspects of our society and positively valuing the contribution of different cultures and perspectives, and treating them with respect.

A full copy of the manifesto can be accessed here.


* Lord Navnit Dholakia is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords and was President of the Liberal Democrats from 2001-2004.

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  • “….but at a time when we see the rise of the divisive politics of parties like UKIP,”
    Which divisive UKIP policy particularly upsets you, speaking from a BAME perspective?

  • UKIP wants to repeal the Human Rights Act.Under which everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

  • Philip Thomas 17th Apr '15 - 7:39am

    That is also Tory and DUP policy: Blukip in lockstep “Human beings don’t have rights”

  • John Dunn 16th Apr ’15 – 3:44pm
    Which divisive UKIP policy particularly upsets you, speaking from a BAME perspective?

    No policy of UKIP upsets me because I know that Mr Farago will change each and every policy as soon as he is asked a difficult question by a reporter. For Mr Farago every question is a difficult question, except perhaps – “Would you like another drink?”

    What upsets people is the racism and xenophobia in every dog-whistle that Mr Farago blows.

  • Philip Thomas 17th Apr '15 - 8:32am

    Talking of dog whistles, lets quote from the Tory manifesto: “the so-called right to family life”.
    So-called? There they are, letting out that shrill high-pitched note.

  • So from responses so far, it’s clear that from a BAME perspective, UKIP do not have any troubling policies. And having read the UKIP Manifesto, I can find nothing racist. I don’t see any dog whistle in a desire for an Australian style immigration policy. ?

  • John Dunn
    Which part of the former British Empire are you from?
    Troubling?Are theTroubles, that’s what you mean.

  • Manfarang
    “Troubling?Are theTroubles, that’s what you mean. ”
    I don’t really understand your point?
    But I would like to hear from you [or anyone else?], why a points based immigration system, used very successfully by 200 countries worldwide, is inherently a ‘dog whistle’ to subliminal racism?

  • 195 Sovereign States. I know for a fact many don’t operate point systems and I speak as someone who has had work permits and spent more than half my life in other countries..

  • Manfarang
    Then you are living proof that points based systems or a similar derivative, work, and work very well.

  • It’s a pity that the discussion on this has turned into the John Dunn show. But put it this way: I’ve always encountered some voters who are angry and vicious-minded racists. They are a minority, but one in an evening is enough (I recently met one who said he refused to be touched by a non-white doctor or nurse). Most of them are now proud of voting UKIP.

    I wonder why.

  • Philip Thomas 17th Apr '15 - 10:53pm

    Australia keeps refugees on offshore island prison camps while their claims are processed. If they are granted refugee status, they are then relocated to Papua New Guinea and not allowed to enter Australia….

  • Simon Banks
    “It’s a pity that the discussion on this has turned into the John Dunn show.”
    It’s an even bigger pity that no-one here has the ability to explain why an Australian points based immigration system is inherently racist.? Can you answer that valid question instead of vague assertions that all UKIP members are angry and vicious-minded racists who refuse to be touched by non-white doctors?

  • Paul Walter
    As has been pointed out to you before, that points system you mention, does not apply to the EU. When it does apply to the EU, we will then have a *true* points system based immigration policy.

  • Philip Thomas 18th Apr '15 - 6:45pm

    The points-based part of the Australian system is not the problem. The problem is the rest of the Australian system (or rather, lack thereof)- the way they treat refugees is an example, they also fail to have a regional free movement arrangement with nearby countries which is an important part of a sensible immigration system.

  • “…and we will not be able to travel and work in other EU countries as 2 million British citizens are currently doing, which will be a huge, historic, insane economic mistake.”
    And you can put that personal unproven view to the electorate when we eventually wrench from the clenched grip of an undemocratic establishment,… a free and fair In/Out EU referendum?

  • John Dunn
    “Then you are living proof that points based systems or a similar derivative, work, and work very well.”
    Not at all. Most countries do not operate points based systems or any derivative. My work-permit depends on
    having a contract with an employer who is the sponser and being in a non-restricted category.(An Aliens Work Law)
    An American friend of my nephew has returned to the States because he could not get a work permit in the Czech Republic. Work permits are not easy things to get.
    Britain outside the EU would mean many British workers returning from EU countries because in most cases someone else could be given the job without the paperwork. Most of the retired people now living in the EU would have to meet stringent income and wealth requirements as I beleive is the case now for anyone wishing to retire and live in Australia.

  • Philip Thomas 19th Apr '15 - 6:07am

    John Dunn. I (although I know this isn’t party line), am happy to have a free and fair in/out EU referendum in which all legal residents of the United Kingdom aged 16 and above participate and non-residents are excluded. Are you?

  • Philip Thomas 19th Apr '15 - 8:55am

    Yes, I though that would be the reply from the right. Restricting the franchise was always popular with the Tories. I’m surprised women will be allowed to vote in the proposed referendum…
    At a minimum, if you exclude the Irish you are in arguable breach of our treaty with Ireland.

  • Phillip Thomas
    I think jedibeeftrix has it right, and would be the basis of a *free and fair* referendum. I’m very thankful that at least one LibDem accepts the democratic right to self determination for UK residents, instead of constantly being ‘talked down to’, by people who think they know best. Thank you Phillip,…The last time I saw such pure honesty and clarity from a Liberal Democrat was in 2008.
    ” It’s time we pulled out the thorn and healed the wound, time for a debate politicians have been too cowardly to hold for 30 years – time for a referendum on the big question. Do we want to be in or out?”
    Nick Clegg ( Feb 2008 )

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