A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Race and Conservatism
05/10/2011 16:54:00

A few months ago, I was asked to contribute an essay to a collection Demos and the Runnymede Trust were putting together about the Conservative Party's approach to race.

I was delighted to do so - it’s long been a subject close to my heart. Historically, the Conservative Party has not secured much support from black and minority ethnic communities. There are both principled and pragmatic reasons why we have to change that: if we aspire to be a one nation party that represents people of all ages and backgrounds who share a set of values, we cannot be indifferent to low levels of support among certain communities; and if we want to win elections, we cannot afford to ignore a section of the electorate that is increasing in size. We've made progress in recent years, particularly since David Cameron was elected our Leader, but there is still much to do. And it's not just important for us, it's also important for black and minority ethnic communities themselves - if they don't feel able to vote for us, Labour are able to take their support for granted.

Anyhow, the collection was published at Conservative Party Conference. You can read it here - my contribution starts on page 59. Let me know what you think.

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Readers' Comments

On 05/10/2011 17:51:00 Steven Gauge wrote:
Well there is more joy in heaven for a sinner repented and all that but I still wonder why virtually your first act as a Conservative MP was to ask a question at Prime Minister's Question Time about what you described as the 'burden' that falls on Croydon Council for having to deal with immigrants who come here to register at the Home Office. It's that sort of attitude that might explain why your party has not secured much support from black and ethnic minority communities. It seemed like pandering to racism at the the time. Perhaps Croydon should do more to welcome and celebrate the diverse, resourceful and entrepreneurial individuals who come to the Borough from all around the world. Having got that off my chest I am pleased to see your comments above and to see East Surrey's Black Conservative MP sitting next to Sam Cam during the Party Leader's speech (and I know that there is more to do in my party, the Lib Dems too).
On 05/10/2011 20:49:00 Chris Wilcox wrote:
I like that. And that is me the old anti-fascist as well.

You are right that Cameron using the word 'multi-culturalism' as a bad thing was incorrect. Quite frankly it shows how distant Cameron's life is from the man on the street. And, as such, how out of touch he can be. And yes it did create divides due to this. Quite frankly he looked like an idiot to many, and so many Tories just followed blindly and condemned multiculturalism. Even though multiculturalism is the movement used on the street to shut down and lock out The BNP and EDL. Standing united in our colours against the fascists and Neo-Nazis.

Especially when he then started to lock out said brilliant scientists you mentioned. On a perceived argument we were full. Which is the same argument the BNP used in their Calais protests.

The Gordon Brown points-based system would have been far superior, due to it's flexibility.

Speaking personally I also agree that New Labour missed the boat on immigration. One of the reasons I liked Brown was that he was willing to broach the subject, as well as reach out to the EDL protest vote over jobs to try and wind down the anger in EDL ranks. That was the mark of someone who understood how it worked on the ground. Unlike what I have seen from Cameron, who has cozied up with very right-wing groups in Europe that have far right connections.

But...the borders do need some level of tightening. New Labour did get it wrong. Much as the Frank Field figures have been disproved we have so many school leavers who need to get into work to learn further we have to start locking out the foreign low-skill workers that come here. Including bringing in a points-based system for the European border to help there. To force our employers to take on our kids, rather than getting in Europeans some see as 'better workers'. For our system of 'no JSA without JobSeeking' to work properly there has to be a chance of you getting work, and as such in-house training. We have to lock out foreign low-skill workers to do this properly. Or our own people will end up long-term unemployed and left to rot.

But...I said to the Runnymede Trust something I do firmly believe. If your border controls are too slack you will have anyone wandering in and taking your stuff. Which would be terrible. But if your border controls are too tight you will never see the wonderful foreign things out there. Something young voters should think about.

Croydon is a great place for different cultures, and that needs protecting. But so do the locals born here. So far your Government has gone too far with the non-European quotas, and not far enough with the European border. I hope this will change in the future.

On 14/10/2011 23:33:00 Gavin wrote:

I am sorry if it seemed that way. My target was not those claiming asylum but the previous Government, which failed to properly compensate Croydon Council Taxpayers for the cost of caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children. We should be proud of our history of providing sanctuary from persecution but this is a national responsibility and the costs should therefore be met by the national taxpayer.


As you would expect, I disagree with a number of points you make. In particular, though I wish the Prime Minister hadn't used the term "multi-culturalism" to describe what he meant, I don't think you can call him out of touch for doing so. I suspect a clear majority use the term in that sense.




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