Just back from speaking at a dinner organised by Croydon Conservatives Community Link, which aims to encourage people from black and ethnic minority communities to get involved in the Conservative Party.
It is a fact that in the past the Conservative Party has not enjoyed significant support from black and ethnic minority voters. Under David Cameron’s leadership that is beginning to change and that’s hugely important both for the Conservative Party and for those communities. It’s important for the Conservative Party because we are at our best when we are a one nation party, when we speak for people from all sections of society - north and south, poor and rich, black and white - who share our belief in freedom and personal responsibility. And it is important for black and ethnic minority communities because if they feel that they can’t vote for one of the two main parties then they have no effective choice come election time.
That was one of the points I made in my speech. The other was about the hugely sensitive issue of immigration. The Government’s failure to control who is entering our country and the need to ensure that people who come here to live integrate - and we help them to integrate - are real concerns and it is right that the Conservative Party raise them. But there is another side of the story that never gets mentioned in the relentlessly negative discussion of immigration in our media and that is the huge contribution immigrant communities have made to our national life - the businesses they have set up, the work they do in our public services, the way they have enriched our culture. Immigration has made Croydon a richer, more interesting place to live. Whilst we grapple with the need to have control of who is entering the country and to ensure that we have an integrated, cohesive society, let’s not lose sight of that.