With elections around the corner for Britain I recently spoke to Ibrahim Taguri, the Liberal Democrats Parliamentary Candidate for Brent Central. Ibrahim grew up in the heart of Brent Central, in Willesden Green, just a stone's throw away from Sarah Teather's constituency office. I asked him about his interest in politics and his agenda if he wins.
How did you decide to join politics?
I've always been passionate about politics because my family came to Brent from a place where tyranny and oppression rule. I first met Sarah on the campaign trail in 2003 and what was clear was that Liberal Democrats exist to campaign against regimes of oppression. The Liberal Democrats were a party I could relate to because they seek to spread opportunity for everyone, irrespective of their background or upbringing.
How do you think the upcoming election is going to pan out?
No-one has a crystal ball or the ability to look into the future, so there is little point in speculating. It is the most uncertain election of our time. I hope that people will ultimately vote for candidates who reflect their values and sense of community. Beyond simply just Party colours. While that matters, it is vital that good, decent and hardworking MPs are returned to Parliament. Otherwise we will end up with opportunists and career politicians who don’t have experience of the real world and aren’t motivated to stand up for their constituents. This will be different in each constituency. The Liberal Democrats have had the difficult job of picking up the pieces of the economy. The two policies we have introduced that have helped everyone are the raising of the tax threshold and the pupil premium - the biggest investment in education this country has ever seen. In fact those two policies have benefited ethnic minorities more than anyone else.
What sort of changes do you intend to bring about in the UK?
For me the route out of poverty was through education. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn, but not all children are so fortunate. I believe that in Britain today everyone should have the opportunity to get on in life. For without opportunity we can’t have freedom and it is easier to build stronger children than to repair broken adults. This is the very heart of my politics and I will work with all communities in every part of the country to ensure that each of us has the opportunity to fulfil our potential.The reality is, however, that there remain too many barriers preventing too many people from realising their goals. What I want to achieve through politics is a positive difference to my community and my country. I don’t want future generations to face the barriers I did.
My mission in politics is to end child poverty in the UK by 2020. It's an issue that we cannot ignore any longer. It is at the heart of so many of the issues that we face today such as education and healthcare.I was recently appointed as the Liberal Democrat Race Equality Champion, a role which I was honoured to accept as it will broaden my scope in helping to achieve this ambition.
UK is a multifaceted country and Indian diaspora is a huge part of it, what are your views on the Indian diaspora settled here?
I think that one of the things that makes Britain so successful is that our communities are culturally rich and diverse.People come here from all backgrounds and cultures to settle here to not only better themselves, but to contribute to making our society thrive. For generations, people of Asian and Indian origin have contributed great things to our society and continue to do so. Here in the UK we have a wealth of successful Indian entrepreneurs and businesses people leading in business innovation, economic development and the flourishing technology industry.
From the shops that are at the heart of our communities and high streets, to the resurgence of industry and manufacturing, British Indians are contributing at every level of society. I find places in the East Midlands particularly inspiring. Places such as Nottingham and Leicester, where Indian entrepreneurs have invested hugely in manufacturing bring jobs to everyone in the community. They have revitalised industrial heartlands bringing back pride, employment and opportunity to everyone.
Immigration laws are becoming more and more stringent. Is this something the new government will look at?
I find the anger that runs through the immigration discourse absolutely soul-destroying. My parents worked to back-breaking extremes to provide for their family, so I am deeply hurt when I hear politicians vilify immigrants. Of course there is a debate to be had around the issue of immigration, but a reasoned and sensible approach must be taken towards it. The next government cannot just pander to the extreme views of the right and the scaremongering untruths. This nation is always best when we are open and outward-facing and we cannot pull up the drawbridge in the face of those who come here for a better life and in turn make Britain a better place to live. The truth is there is a positive case for immigration and that needs to be made loud and clear. Without a reasoned debate I fear Britain will become backward and inward looking.