Story: Murcilla Mosleh
On 13th of April 2010, in the run-up to the General Election, the Yemeni Community Association invited five candidates from the main political parties to participate in a political debate.
The event at the Vestry Hall aimed to give Muslim and black and ethnic minority communities (under-represented groups in the world of politics) the opportunity to ask politicians campaigning to become MPs about issues that mattered to them, as well as express their concerns about policies affecting their communities. The audience and discussions were lively and there were times when the debates were very heated. Members of the packed audience spoke passionately as they asked the speakers how they would tackle the issues facing them daily.
So why was holding the event important? On the 6th of May, the local and general elections took place to elect Britain’s government for the next five years. Parliament’s main purpose is to make laws, debate topical issues and look at how our taxes are spent. The issues discussed in Parliament affect us all: health, immigration, education, jobs, crime etc.
I often hear people complain they feel discriminated against, that they are unhappy with how Britain is governed and how some policies are unfair. But what I most commonly hear is the feeling that nothing can be done to bring about positive change. Participating in the political process is not only a quality of an active citizen, but it is one of the most efficient ways of contributing to and shaping the future of politics and the society we live in.
Now our government has been formed, we must be patient and it will take some time for the trust in MPs to be restored. But now that the elections are over, we must continue to participate and lobby politicians on issues affecting our communities to bring about the real changes politicians so often speak about.