Annual Conference Speech

September 29, 2008 at 10:36 am / by

Here is a transcript of the speech I made at Annual Conference last week-

Good afternoon Conference,

My name is Tulip Siddiq and I am Women’s Officer for London Young Labour.

By day I work in Parliament and by night I campaign in my local Hampstead and Kilburn CLP. Unfortunately, in both my jobs, there is a distinct lack of women from BME communities and today I’d like to highlight the need to widen participation in both local and national politics from these women.

While campaigning for Ken Livingstone in May, I came across several young Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Somali women in Camden who supported the Labour Party but weren’t registered to vote. Conference, we need to work on registering these valuable voters before the next election. Statistics show that women between the ages of 18-25 are least likely to be registered to vote than any other age group.

I asked these women why they hadn’t registered and they said it was because they didn’t think their vote made a difference and that their voices were never heard. The truth is that these women will only get involved in politics if they feel that their councillors and MPs are making tangible representations on their behalf and that issues close to their hearts are being taken into consideration.

They will only respond to us if we respond to them.

This is why we should start making the most of community petitions as introduced by Hazel Blears; consultations and focus groups and more accessible surveys – perhaps in different languages.

Moreover, if we want ethnic women to participate in politics, we need to convey to them that the Labour Government will promote their advancement in politics, regardless of their ethnicity or background.

We need mentoring schemes headed by our ethnic MPs. I’m proud to say that the Labour Party has more ethnic MPs than any of the other political parties put together and that we will, I hope, be getting our first Bangladeshi MP at the next election Rushanara Ali in Bethnal Green and Bow.

Finally Conference, let’s win the fight for the future; let’s win the hearts and minds of these women and last but definitely not least, please let’s win a fourth term.