31/03/2005

Ethnic groups launch equality manifesto

A coalition of ethnic minority organisations have launched a 'black manifesto' highlighting equality issues in the run-up to the next General Election.

The coalition is calling for politicians to "radically rethink" their approach to racism and are urging the next government to introduce a Minister for Race who would implement new strategies and ensure targets were reached.

Commenting on the manifesto, Karen Chouhan of the 1990 Trust, said: "This is a manifesto for positive change. A comprehensive rethink that puts tackling racism at a Cabinet level along with the other measures will be a quantum leap forward."

Operation Black Vote (OBV) have launched the result of demographic political research to coincide with the new manifesto, which the group claims shows that the black vote could be "crucial" in the next election, widely expected to be held on May 5.

OBV's research shows that the black vote could be highly important in over 70 constituency seats and, the group claims, could also "convincingly impact" on the outcome of a further 50 seats.

The coalition plans to take a campaign bus on the road and hold OBV Question Time meetings in areas that have a marginal seat.

Simon Woolley, Director of OBV, said: "Never before in British politics has the black vote been so strong. Although we are a minority vote in a tightly run race, we hold the balance of power."

Lee Jasper, Chair of OBV, added: "Black communities don't have the luxury not to vote. With racism and in particular Islamaphobia alarmingly on the increase it is the duty of every black person to tell their political candidates that we demand that they sign up to an agenda for justice. Failure to do so will be punished at the ballot box."

(KMcA/SP)

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