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Learn more about why Rabi Martins is standing to be Vice President

November 20, 2021 3:14 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Let's Make Lib Dems BME Friendly - It's Not What We Do, But How We Do It That Counts

Below is an outline of why I am standing for Vice President.

I am an established Race Equality and Diversity campaigner with a Business Management background and an established record of striving for Race Equity across the Party. In the course of my 25 years as Party member I have served on the Federal Policy Committee, International Relations Committee, been Secretary of the PCA, vice chair of EMLD and served as a Regional Diversity Champion. I am also Secretary of Lib Dem Friends of India. It is this personal history that accounts for my reputation as a Community Champion within the Party and my high profile amongst BME communities nationally.

In 2001 at the request of the then Party President Lord Dholakia I chaired the first Race Equality Group in the Party and produced a report with guidelines on what the Party should do to attract support from Ethnic Minority (BME) Communities. It recommended establishing an Ethnic Minority Election Task Force (EMETF).This was done and soon after we elected our first BME MP. Unfortunately EMETF was killed off by the Party machine.

In 2018 Lord Alderdice undertook a comprehensive review on the same subject. His study concluded that "Despite our clear liberal values, rejecting all forms of prejudice and inequality, the Party has failed to engage sufficiently with BaME communities".

That is precisely what I and others who are campaigning to make our Party more inclusive have been saying for years. By and large our messages fell on deaf ears. As a consequence several talented highly capable politically active BME individuals became disillusioned, felt undervalued and left the Party. But I chose to stay on and fight. I am glad I did because I now have one more chance to change things. So I promise you if I am elected Vice President and charged with the responsibility of making Lib Dems more appealing to individuals from BME Communities I will make do everything in my power to achieve that outcome.

Doing this will need member support. So I will closely with local parties in England, Scotland and Wales to develop a plan for attracting individuals and groups from BME Communities who will act as ambassadors within their respective catchment areas. I know it can be done because I did it in Watford. Indeed I consider it my prime responsibility to drive this change.

This is my three point plan to Kick Start my plan:

  1. Establish a BME Engagement Consultative Group made up of BME Councillors and Activists from England, Scotland and Wales and task the group with devising a plan to implement the recommendations in the Alderdice Review
  2. Devise a BME Engagement Framework for local Parties in our Target Constituencies and in Councils with significant BME populations
  3. In consultation with the Leaders Office, Campaign Team and Communications Office produce a special BME Media plan

I know I can rely on our members to help me achieve our common inclusivity goals for the Party.