Organising the Black vote

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2014 National Black Members' Conference
1 October 2013

The results from the 2011 Census showed that in England and Wales approximately 14% of the population identified as non white. This is a rise from the 2001 Census figure of 7.9%. The Census results also revealed the greater dispersal of Black people across the UK.

This changing demographic across the UK, coupled with a growing Black population that now represents 8% of the overall electorate presents Black people with opportunities to heavily influence change. Black votes will have influence in geographical areas much broader than traditional boundaries and could decide the next government in the 2015 UK elections.

There is currently no government led strategic initiative or targeted policy to address the substantial race inequalities that exist in the UK despite the fact that Black people continue to have significantly poorer outcomes than the rest of the population in key areas such as employment, education, housing and health and are over-represented in the criminal justice system.

Further, this Tory-led Coalition government have already taken several worrying steps to amend or delete provision that protect vulnerable groups against discrimination. The review of the Equality Act 2010, the Welfare reform Act 2010 and cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission and other key services equate to a sustained attack on equalities. If left unchallenged these policies, the rise of the far right across Europe and the re-entry of anti immigration and racist rhetoric in main stream politics threatens to undermine decades of progress towards race equality in this country.

An Operation Black Vote report concluded that Black voters could easily decide over 160 seats in the 2015 UK general elections. Given that the coalition governs the UK with a working majority of just 83 seats the need for Black communities to exercise their vote and for British politics to respond to their needs is increasingly apparent.

Black workers have a long and successful history of organising both within the workplace, and in our communities. As Black trade unionist we are already aware of the power of collective organisation that provides for a strong and united voice for change.

Still too often the colour of your skin determines your life outcomes. Now the UK Black vote can be used as a force to demand that the government addresses persistent race inequality in this country.

That is why Conference calls on the National Black Members Committee to develop a campaign to:

1)Encourage Black voter registration and turnout in the 2015 UK elections

2)Work with the Labour Link and relevant voluntary and community organisations to develop opportunities to educate and engage Black people in British politics

3)Engage Black members in developing a response to the undermining of equalities in the workplace and working with UNISON’s Self Organised Groups, branches and Service groups raise the profile of, and campaign against, the attacks to equalities by the Government.