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2015 National Black Members' Conference
17 September 2014

Black communities must reject the economic policies of the coalition government. Austerity cuts continue to significantly impact on Black people and we cannot sit back and see our basic human rights eroded due to the colour of our skin.

Conference, too often the colour of your skin determines your life chances and Black communities continue to experience poorer outcomes in key areas such as education and health. The Black vote must be used as a force to demand that the government addresses persistent race inequality across the UK.

Never has it been more important for Black people and their communities to understand the importance of their political voice and participation over the next coming months leading up to the General election in 2015 and beyond.

The government introduced a new system of registering to vote that has moved the responsibility from the household to individuals aged 18 and over. Simon Woolley, Operation Black Vote fears this could have a ‘devastating effect’ on turnout. According to a recent Electoral Commission poll, only 48% of Black voters were aware of these changes significantly fewer than the number of white people who were.

In 2010, 7% of white British people were not registered to vote and this was significantly lower than most Black communities.

Age is also a factor that influences voter turnout, all young people are less likely to vote and Black populations tend to be younger on average than white people. In considering some of the changes we have seen in policy and in our community since the coalition government has been in office that affect young people Black including:

a)Black youth unemployment rising by 56%;

b)The removal of the Education Maintenance Allowance;

c)University fees tripled;

d)Sure Start centre closures;

e)Increased levels of Stop and Search.

It is clear to see why young Black people do not feel they have a voice and that this government is not concerned with the disproportionate negative impact current policies are having on Black people.

With UKIP and other far right groups continuing to promote their propaganda about immigration, we must organise to ensure the Black vote helps to decide who governs these shores for the next 4 to 5 years and rid ourselves of these vile and reprehensible people. In this climate of austerity and cuts Black people are easy scapegoats for such groups to blame for the lack of jobs, poor housing and poverty.

Recent research by Operation Black Vote has revealed that an organised Black vote could significantly influence the outcome of the next general elections. Further the changing demographic across the UK coupled with a growing Black population that now represents 8% of the overall electorate in England and Wales presents Black people with a real opportunity to heavily influence change.

Many believe that the disengagement of Black people in politics is rooted in parliament neither looking nor sounding representative and inclusive. Despite the Census showing an increase in the Black population in the UK the diversity of MP’s and councillors remains disproportionate. In 2010 only 4% of local councillors were Black. We have to organise, become politically aware and active to affect change in our lives.

We therefore call on the National Black Members’ Committee to continue to work with the National Executive Committee and Labour Link to:

1)Continue to campaign on issues that unfairly disadvantage Black communities and challenge the undermining of equality legislation set to protect Black people from discrimination;

2)Ensure Labour party policies reflect the issues facing young Black people;

3)Continue to campaign and work with other relevant organisations and the young members forum to encourage Black members to vote in the next General Election in 2015 and become an active political voice within UNISON;

4)Receive an update on the political education campaign and the challenge to the anti-immigration debate;

5)Develop and promote opportunities for Black members to become politically active by becoming MPs and councillors.