Mr Kishan Devani, former Deputy Chairman of the London Conservative Party (2014-2016) and a prominent figure in the BAME campaigns, urging the British public to join the electoral process to to hold the politicians to account. A special for Asian Lite News
During the EU Referendum campaign I constantly kept on thinking about the pros and cons of both sides of the argument. After which I decided to back the Remain campaign. The results came in and the will of the British people must be carried out (although what type of Brexit is still up for debate). However after the campaign i couldn’t help sit back and try to think of the most ridiculous comments or promises that were made during the campaign. Which I must admit, was no easy task! Let’s face it both sides came up with some what ludicrous comments – whether it was the emergency budget by the Remain side or the £350 million for the NHS by the Leave campaign.
However after much deliberation – it is safe to say the most far fetched of them all had to be the one made by the now International Development Secretary Priti Patel, who was a leading Leave campaigner, when she said leaving the EU would allow them to relax non-EU immigration rules and “save” British curry houses.
The £4bn a year British curry industry backed Brexit after Leave campaigners promised to make more visas available to skilled chefs from the Indian sub-continent; which primarily included India, Bangladesh and Pakistan
The £4bn a year British curry industry backed Brexit after Leave campaigners promised to make more visas available to skilled chefs from the Indian sub-continent; which primarily included India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In an interview with the Evening Standard, Priti Patel said: “By voting to leave we can take back control of our immigration policies, save our curry houses and join the rest of the world”. I wonder what the various catering associations feel like now that brexit is taking place. Do they feel confident that this promise is going to be delivered on? Or could this in fact be one of the biggest lies of the campaign?
This is an issue however that goes beyond party politics, Brexit and General Election 2017. There are many such examples of deceiving the BAME communities (or for that matter the electorate at large) by politicians of all parties. It is about the much bigger picture of holding our elected representatives to account
Oli Khan, the senior vice-president of the Bangladesh Caterers Association UK and a celebrity chef said
“What’s happening since Brexit is even more restaurants are closing; we can’t get people from anywhere…Curry houses are in danger.” Whether it be the vibrant curry houses of Belgrave Road in Leicester or the aromatic restaurants of Brick Lane or Ealing Road in London – all are worried and concerned about this issue. This fundamentally does beg the question that we as a community need to question and look at – were the same people who were so virulently opposed to EU immigration seriously going to allow or want mass immigration of chefs from the Indian sub-continent? In fact those of us that even bought into such claims – may need to question how gullible we truly are…
This is an issue however that goes beyond party politics, Brexit and General Election 2017. There are many such examples of deceiving the BAME communities (or for that matter the electorate at large) by politicians of all parties. It is about the much bigger picture of holding our elected representatives to account.
As a third generation proud born Brit with Indian roots, a son of Ugandan Asian refugees who came to the UK in the 70’s; I strongly believe the British Asian community (of which I am a member of) must wake up and smell the coffee. We need to be less mesmerised by the glamour of political campaigns and events, the pictures with ministers or figures of authority, the razzmatazz of the fancy venues or anything else of that sort. Instead we must look to hold our elected representives accountable by questioning, dissecting and probing the promises they make to us from their podiums and at the doors when they come to acquire our votes.
It is for the political world to realise that they must look to truly engage in a genuine manner with the BAME communities if they really would like to be representing the people of our wonderful country, by delivering on their promises and not patronising us with mere lip service. On the flipside it is imperative that the British Asian community in particular look to promote and allow their younger generations to come away from the elder generations preferred careers for them of Medicine, Accountancy and Law (which they have excelled in), and allow them to pursure careers in public life, such as Media, Journalism or Politics.
As a 32-year-old, I still often get asked ‘oh politics – that is interesting – how did you get involved in that? You should have practised law or accountancy. There’s far more job security in that!
This changing of attitudes from the grass roots in turn would also have a knock on affect on the current BAME politicians, as it would make them realise that they should be there to be role-models and look to bring others into the political domain; rather than just further feather their own nests. Maybe it would be worth seeing how many currently, actively do so?
So as we make our way to the ballot boxes on June 8th it is vital that all BAME communities (infact the entire electorate) engage with the democratic process and cast their vote (regardless of political affiliation). But let us remember not to simply vote on historical affiliations or tribal politics – but instead let us look to seek to unite in our diversity by voting on the issues that affect all of us and holding our elected and non-elected politicians to account. —
By Kishan Devani FRSA – @kishan_devani