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Chinese for Labour is one of the Socialist Societies affiliated to the Labour Party. We were founded in 1999, affiliated in 2010 and act as a bridge between the Labour Party and British Chinese and East Asian communities. Our activities including fundraising, campaigning for the Party and raising awareness on issues that affect our ethnic communities. With over 400,000 ethnic Chinese in the UK it is the fastest growing ethnic minority population and on top of this are many other East Asians and those of mixed heritage.

As part of the Labour Leadership election campaign we asked the leadership candidates a series of questions. We've split the questions into two parts. The first part are more general questions directed to BAME communities, while the second released tomorrow are specifically related to the Chinese community.

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1. What should Labour’s response be to the Immigration Bill coming forward in this Parliamentary session?

AB: Immigration has made an important contribution to the UK, our public services and the diverse country it makes us, but we must address the real concerns of people across the country.  That is why I am seeking to reform EU rules.  Under my leadership we will continue to support free movement, but freedom to work will not be a freedom to claim benefits before contributing.

I will hold the government to account in delivering a package of reform that meets public concerns.  If David Cameron fails to address these concerns, he risks sleepwalking the UK into EU exit.

YC: Britain for centuries has been an outward looking, diverse nation – that is what has made it possible for our small island nation to punch above our weight on the world stage, for British inventions to lead the way from the industrial revolution to the world wide web, for the English language to become the dominant worldwide currency. In today’s global economy, that outward looking approach is more important than ever and migration is more important than ever.

But if we are to maintain it we have to tackle the challenges that globalisation brings, and the real problems in our immigration system which are in danger of undermining confidence. That means stopping the exploitation of low-skilled migration that hurts everyone, starting with making exploitation a crime. It means tackling abuse of the visa system to make sure confidence is upheld, and it means sorting out the Home Office so the system works properly and efficiently.

 JC: We should oppose it. The proposal to expel migrant workers who are not on a certain salary level is simply unjust.

If workers are underpaid then exploitative employers should be punished not the workers themselves for a second time. 

Expecting landlords to police their tenants is unworkable. It will increase discrimination towards BAME people in getting tenancies, as landlords will see non-white applicants as ‘risky’.

LK: For all the benefits that immigration brings, we should also recognise the impact of globalisation on everyone in society. Eliminating low pay would be one of my top priorities as leader, and I want to see more done so that workers cannot be exploited by unscrupulous employers.

The tough talking from Theresa May and the Tories on issues like student visas has been seriously misplaced. The UK’s universities are recognised around the world for their outstanding quality, and our efforts should be put in to making sure they continue to succeed, not making foreign students feel that they are not welcome to come here to learn.

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2. BAME voters have been part of Labour’s core vote over the past few decades, yet polling by British Future and Survation has suggested that they are beginning to swing away from Labour to the Tories in large numbers. This will obviously be significant (especially in marginal seats) as the BAME population is set to grow. What should Labour do to get them back?

YC: In the Labour Party we pride ourselves on our commitment to fairness, equality and social justice. But with over a million ethnic minority voters choosing the Tories at the last election, Labour cannot be complacent.   If we are not representative of our voters, how can we hope to keep their support

The Parliamentary Labour Party still falls short when it comes to the representation of BAME communities. As Labour Leader I will put that right. I want to see Labour more than double the number of BAME MPs in a Labour majority Parliament. I will oversee a taskforce engaging with BAME MPs, councillors, NEC members and local Party activists, to ensure a step change in support for BAME candidates and activists.  Labour’s BAME taskforce will report to me and will also look at measures such as bursary schemes to support aspiring candidates with training and support with selections.

LK: As an MP who has spent years building trust and respect in a constituency with a hugely diverse community, I was concerned to see that at the last general election our support declined amongst BAME voters. I have no doubt that this cost us the chance of winning many seats. There are many people out there who clearly didn’t trust Labour with their vote, many of them in the BAME community.

 We need to rebuild trust in our party across the electorate. That starts by building a credible alternative to Conservative government that works nationally, but we need to also understand how we can win back voters at a local level.

As leader, of course I want to see many, many more Labour MPs after the next election and I want more of those to be BAME MPs. I want to hear more from groups like Chinese for Labour on how we can address that issue of trust at a local level. I also want to hear how you think we build the national campaign needed the win a broader spectrum of the BAME vote next time around.

JC: Labour has a proud record of tackling racism and defending migrants' rights. We are the party that introduced the Race Relations Acts and the Equality Act.

But Labour has lost votes right across the country and from all ethnicities. We have lost touch with our supporters, been cowed by the press and powerful commercial interests. We need to reconnect with our communities right across Britain, involve members, affiliates and supporters in making our policy, and be proud to stand up for what we believe in.

We can win back support if we draw on our greatest strength: our people, listen to them and provide credible policies that meet their concerns.

 

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3. The government has resurrected Labour proposals on helping to close the gender pay gap by increasing pay transparency. How should Labour close the ethnic pay gap and how can we ensure that there is fair promotion and progression of BAME people in the both public and private sector jobs?

 JC: As well as the gender pay gap, there is an ethnic minority and disability pay gap too. That's why I have proposed equal pay audits be published by all employers so that discrimination cannot be hidden, both within pay grades and across staff structures.

By raising the minimum wage to a living wage and giving all workers equal rights from day one, we can address the low pay and exploitation that affects workers in many sectors.

But we know that there is further discrimination against BAME people.

YC: Equality for all goes to the very heart of my politics.  We must always do everything we can to improve diversity across both public and private life.

As Labour leader, I would place a legal requirement on police forces to increase diversity and will change the law to allow New York-style “affirmative action” in recruitment policies.  For our Armed Forces, we need change so that recruitment processes reach out to all areas of British society.  BAME representation in the civil service is still below the national average, especially at senior levels. So as Labour Prime Minister, I will require annual updates on progress from every Government department to improve BAME recruitment at all levels.

LK: The working-age population of ethnic minority groups is growing faster than the average but on current projections by 2022 the existing ethnic inequalities in the labour market will remain stubbornly persistent.

So as leader Labour I'd champion increased BAME representation across the public and private sector - working with businesses and the public sector to make all organisations - including the Labour Party - far more representative of the country itself.

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4. How can we encourage more diversity in the arts and media?

YC: We cannot underestimate the importance of diversity in the arts and media and more needs to be done in this area.  For example, we need to put the arts and media back at the heart of education, so children from all backgrounds have access to these fields throughout their lives.

I want to smash the glass ceilings of British society. Because it is only by improving diversity and increasing opportunities across all areas of society that Britain can finally become a country where people are able to fulfil their potential regardless of background, colour or their start in life.

LK: It’s essential that schools teach pupils about chances in life they might not know exist - there should be no door closed on you simply because you didn’t grow up in London, or that your parents didn’t know the right people.  Arts and media should no more be a closed shop to the BAME community than science and engineering should be to young women.

JC: The bias in arts funding against ethnic minority and diverse assets has been exacerbated by the cuts to the Arts Council. 

The first thing that’s needed is an economic policy to restore growth that can increase the funding available to government for the arts in general. We need an end to the Tory approach that only the market should determine what arts are available. This inevitably advantages the most commercial, mainstream and profitable cultural products and undermines minority, community and more diverse assets.

We need government to be a vocal champion of greater diversity in the arts and media. 

Our party has made great strides in becoming more representative of British society (and groups like Chinese for Labour have helped us achieve that), but there are still challenges to overcome in our party, in politics more widely, and in all fields of British life.

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5. Chinese for Labour has always held a strong interest in immigration policy and its links to the labour market. For example, during the early 2000s we lobbied for a points-based immigration system and a Gangmasters Licensing Authority. We’ve heard a lot from Leadership candidates about dealing with challenges of immigration. What do you think the benefits of immigration are and how would you maximise them?

AB: Over 80,000 of China’s brightest and best students come to study in our universities every year.  I condemn the current government’s unfair policy towards international students and believe we should instead look to develop our relationship with communities and connections around the world.

YC: Over many centuries Britain has benefited from the ideas and talents of those who have come here from abroad – including from the Chinese Community. We need managed migration to get the top talent and investment we need, for our world class universities to compete internationally, or to meet skills shortages in the NHS.

We need more brilliant students coming to study, to make sure we can get the top talent to grow our businesses, and ensure skills shortages are filled. And British citizens need to travel and trade to promote our exports, and seek new opportunities.

JC: Immigration has been of great benefit to our country economically, socially and culturally - and we must protect freedom of movement in any EU renegotiations.

We also need to improve the procedures for non EU migration. The attempts of the last coalition government to limit immigration to an arbitrary target figure meant they could not take account of business needs, undermined family reunions, and attacked economically beneficial migration such as students coming to study here. It has also undermined tourism from newly emerged economies like China, when visitors are put off by the hurdles they have to go through to get a visa.

We have just seen the ridiculous spectacle of the British government defending Ai Wei Wei in China then having to apologise for blocking his visa to come here. The tourism visa for visitors from China had to be overhauled. We should stop treating Chinese tourists like potential ‘illegal immigrants’ and start treating them like the high spending visitors they actually are. Rather than the hangover colonial attitude to China we should treat it and its citizens with respect.

The grounds for skilled migration need to be changed to include skills like Chinese cuisine and cookery. 

The proposal to expel long term migrants who are not earning above a certain amount is ridiculous and must be opposed. As well as the obvious injustice it will impact on the NHS in particular and on workers in restaurants and hospitality industry which need diverse language and cultural skills.

But we need to do more to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers: strengthening workplace and trade union protections; putting extra resources into enforcement of the minimum wages; and extending the remit of the gangmasters licensing authority.

We also need to ensure that the housing crisis is tackled by allowing councils to borrow to build a new generation of council housing. We must explain how austerity is a political choice not an economic necessity, and oppose any attempt to scapegoat migrant communities. We must never pander to xenophobia and racism, but address issues in a rational and open way.

LK: I’m very proud to represent a constituency in one of the UK’s most diverse cities. Immigration has not just been good for places like Leicester, it has been essential to them maintaining their place in the national and global economy. In order for that to continue, we need to make sure that we have an immigration system that is fair for all concerned. I think, for example, that Chinese for Labour were absolutely right to advocate a points-based immigration system as a means of making sure that we have the necessary skills for our economy to grow.

Tomorrow, our second set of questions to the leadership. If you would like to write for Chinese for Labour, or have any events that would be of interest to our community then please email at alvin.shum@chineseforlabour.org. 

 

Chinese for Labour: Leadership Questions

Chinese for Labour is one of the Socialist Societies affiliated to the Labour Party. We were founded in 1999, affiliated in 2010 and act as a bridge between the Labour...

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Chinese for Labour is proud to announce that our Vice-Chair Ashton McGregor is running as a prospective Labour candidate for the City and East seat on the London Assembly. The ongoing selection process to is to replace London Assembly member John Biggs, who was elected as Mayor of Tower Hamlets and will be stepping down from his City and East London seat. It's a fantastic step for the Chinese community towards greater representation in our political system.

The next step for Ash is a formal nomination from at least one of the parliamentary constituencies that comprise the City and East area (City of London, Bethnal Green & Bow, Poplar & Limehouse, East Ham, West Ham, Barking and Dagenham & Rainham). If you want to help Ash get elected as the Labour candidate for City & East then please contact Ash at ashlbth@hotmail.com or 07703 438881. Here's more from Ash:

Dear friends,

I'm writing to introduce myself as a prospective Labour candidate for the City and East seat on the London Assembly.

The seat will become vacant next year when John Biggs steps down. John has represented us brilliantly at City Hall since it came into being 15 years ago, across policing, transport and economic development. I shall especially miss the sight of him getting under Boris' skin during Mayor's Question Time!

Making a Home in East London

 I wasn't born a Londoner but - like so many people in East London - chose to become one. I made a positive choice to study, work and live in this city of opportunity: a magnet for people from hundreds of different cultures and backgrounds. 

Like so many private renters I moved all around the city, finally settling in Tower Hamlets nearly two decades ago. I've lived in Whitechapel, St Katharine's, the Isle of Dogs, Bromley and Mile End and I've been privileged to represent the Labour Party as a local councillor in Limehouse. It is in Tower Hamlets where I ran Jim Fitzpatrick's successful General Election campaign, finally getting rid of the divisive George Galloway from the borough once and for all. 

I love London but increasingly we see its divisions and strains; the huge gaps of wealth and opportunity rising under this Tory Government and Mayor. It's not just the poor who are being left behind. In a Labour London everyone must have a fair share in our city's success. 

My Public Service

For the past fourteen years I have worked for the Metropolitan Police Service - expanding neighbourhood policing into every single ward across London, securing funding for Sexual Assault Referral Centres (including for East London at Whitechapel) and settling up the Security Programme for the Olympics, the biggest peace-time security operation this country has ever seen. 

I have also worked across the NHS to tackle inequalities in health; improving access to services for young people, women, black and minority ethnic communities and those with disabilities. 

Why I'm Standing

I've been lucky. Despite not having the easiest of starts in life I was able to get on with the help of an incredibly supportive family and a good comprehensive school education. This allowed me to come to London and study, to get a decent job and to settle down here. It is a travesty that too many of our children in London do not have the same life chances I've had. 

Labour must be ambitious for London. A Labour London could be a place where every child has the opportunity and security to succeed, where our transport system is affordable and works, where we deal with London's housing crisis for all renters and those who want to buy, and provide a better quality of life for a growing city. 

Through working in our public services and as a grassroots Labour activist and councillor, I have fought tirelessly for Labour values and for the people who depend on us to stand up for them. It would be a privilege to do so for you on the London Assembly. 

 

Vice Chair Ash McGregor for City and East

Chinese for Labour is proud to announce that our Vice-Chair Ashton McGregor is running as a prospective Labour candidate for the City and East seat on the London Assembly. The...

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Firstly, we should applaud the Chancellor for finally agreeing with some of Labour’s policies. An increase in the minimum wage (even if he called it the ‘living’ wage), an increase in the number of free hours for childcare, and agreeing that the principle of non-domiciled tax status is unfair, are all policies that Labour first campaigned on. Now that the Tories (and the right-wing press) are in agreement with our side of the argument on these issues, we should push them to move faster and harder.

However, we should not get away from the fact that the Tories have unfairly punished the poorest in our society. The Chancellor attempts to obfuscate the issue by declaring the increase in the minimum wage, the ‘living wage,’ but the increase is well short of the actual living wage. Currently the 2015 living wage in London is £9.15/h, with the Chancellor promising to increase the minimum wage to £9/h by 2020, still less than the actual living wage. Furthermore, the Living Wage takes into account tax credits, many of which have been abolished or sharply curtailed. No matter how you look at the issue, the increase in the minimum wage cannot replace the loss of tax credits.

While, the Chancellor is right to ensure that our welfare budget is spent appropriately, withdrawing tax credits from those in need, without anything to replace them with is to vindictively punish the poorest in our society. The Chancellor has put the cart before the horse, choosing to remove tax credits without solving the underlying issues that necessitates their need.

The reality is that the Chancellor has produced a policy for short-term political gain, rather than long-term economic benefit. He has done little to address the long term economic problems with the levels of productivity less than France and Germany. True, the apprenticeship levy will help encourage businesses to invest in their personnel and help develop higher value and more productive workers. However, the Chancellor has little to say about addressing critical infrastructure issues. A mention of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ in the budget statement sounds little more than rhetoric after the cancelled plans to electrify the northern railway network. Labour’s election pledge to allow for capital spend borrowing, makes increasingly more sense as it would have allowed for proper investment in our country’s infrastructure.

Yet the biggest indictment of Osborne’s short termism, is an alarming attack on the under 25s. The move from maintenance grants to loans, the loss of housing benefit and the ‘living’ wage only applying to over 25s all serve to punish the youth and will in the long term harm our economy. Is it fair for the poorest in our society to be priced out of education, when education is the most important factor in social mobility?

While the budget may be garbed with some of Labour's progressive policies, we should not shy away from the fact that the Chancellor has punished the poorest and youngest in our society for short-term political gain. If he truly wants to deal with the number of tax credits being claimed, then he must address the underlying issues, not remove them and hope for the best. 

Alvin Shum is the Communications Officer for Chinese for Labour. If you would like to write for Chinese for Labour, or have any events that would be of interest to our community then please email at alvin.shum@chineseforlabour.org. 

Budget Response

Firstly, we should applaud the Chancellor for finally agreeing with some of Labour’s policies. An increase in the minimum wage (even if he called it the ‘living’ wage), an increase...

Britain is a rich country. But not since a century ago has so much of our wealth been docked from so many to enrich so few.

Back in the 1910s, the richest 1% took home almost 20% of the income of this country. But from the 1920s on, along with the emergence of the Labour Party as a real political force, things began to change. By the 1970s, the top 1% earners were pocketing not 20%, but about 5% of all income. More money went into the pay packets of ordinary workers and more investment was put into public services for the benefit of all.

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All this changed with the ascendancy of Thatcherism and its plutocratic legacy. After 1979 the richest 1% were once again getting an ever larger share of our national income, and in the 2010s, we’re heading back towards the 20% share they held back in the 1910s. In 2012, the chief executives of the 100 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange were getting an average pay rise of 49% compared with average increase of just 3% for their employees. If we take financial assets as well as income into account, the richest 1% today own as much as the poorest 55% in the UK.

Is this because handing a larger share of our country’s money to the richest few is the only way to generate significantly higher growth? The reality is that from the founding of the NHS and the welfare state in 1948 to 1978, UK’s average real per capita GDP growth rate was 2.17%. The corresponding average growth during the Thatcher years of 1979-1990 was just 2.05%.

And do the top executives, who pay themselves 145 times the average pay of their employees, really work 145 times harder or endure 145 times more stress than the workers who have to struggle to get by in lowly positions with inadequate pay? Or are they just much more powerful because those in government have increasingly looked after their interests at the expense of everyone else?

Money is the most potent form of power in society today. It can buy up public assets, fracking licences, propaganda, litigation expertise, market advantages, not to mention political influence to shape laws and policies to suit the wealthiest 1%.

People work together to generate the wealth of this country, and they expect the fruits of their labour to be shared out fairly. Historically it has been the Labour Party that has been at the forefront in striving to secure this outcome. And it is time for Labour to be bold and clear in declaring that it stands for the 99%.

Four Core Commitments

To do this, it needs to be unequivocal about four core commitments.

First - the commitment to true enterprise. We don’t want the enterprise of the con-men whose one talent is to manipulate others into making money for them to siphon off to off-shore tax havens. We want Labour to promote true enterprise where genuinely beneficial talents and hard work, including the vital work carried out by countless carers at home, are rewarded fairly because they are of great value to society. Labour should give everyone a greater incentive in making their enterprise a success by promoting worker participation and ownership. And it should have clear plans for clamping down on corporate fraudsters and tax dodgers.

Secondly - the commitment to real security. Terrorist attacks threaten lives, but so do malnutrition, living in squalor, inadequate healthcare, domestic violence, delayed ambulance services, and riots fuelled by social divisions. We want to see Labour enhance the security of the people of this country, in relation to every from of life-endangering threat. And to achieve this, Labour must be ready to invest in the improvement of public services, the building of affordable homes, and the rebuilding of our NHS after the trauma it has been put through in the last five years.

Thirdly - the commitment to a sustainable economy. Deregulating the finance sector so much that banks could gamble away people’s savings and wreck the economy is a Thatcherite legacy that must be corrected. Financial schemes that take reckless risks with our money while dressed up as investment opportunities are not a substitute for the production of goods and services that meet people’s needs. Instead of contrived profits concocted for the few, Labour should support the development of renewable resources and zero-marginal cost productions so that everyone’s quality of life improves along with better protection for the environmental assets on which we all depend.

Last but not least, the commitment to honest democracy. Instead of talking about being localist but keeping power in Westminster, Labour should be fully dedicated to devolving more power to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, London, and the diverse regions of England. Labour should be the leaders on political transparency and make MPs answerable to their constituents by having to declare and explain to them their expenses, external earnings, and gifts and donations received. It should also put an end to Ministers taking on any form of paid role with companies that have benefited by their actions for at least ten years after they leave office.

Henry Tam is Director of the Question the Powerful project, lecturer at Cambridge University and visiting professor at Birkbeck College, London University.

The article was originally published in February 2015 edition of The Orient - Chinese for Labour's bi-annual publication. If you have an idea for an article, or an event to share then please email alvin@chineseforlabour.org.

The Orient Archive: Labour for the ninety nine percent

Britain is a rich country. But not since a century ago has so much of our wealth been docked from so many to enrich so few. Back in the 1910s,...

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Do you have the potential to be a future leader in the film industry?

The National Film and Television School in partnership with Creative Skillset, have launched the BAME LEADERSHIP Programme, a new six month programme to rigorously encourage diverse representation in the film industry, bringing on the next generation of diverse talent working at Executive level in production, distribution, sales and exhibition.

They are looking for 8 talented emerging film business executives from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background with a proven track record and the potential to lead in their industry to take part.

As one of the 8 successful applicants you will undertake an intense six month programme of individual training, coaching and mentoring allowing you to rapidly develop your career confidence in today's industry whilst also building your leadership skills.

Programme Outline

The six month programme will start in October 2015, ending March 2016.

The programme will kick off with a 2 day immersive bootcamp for the group as a whole - sessions will focus on building and honing leadership skills. You will gain a wide ranging insight into the financing, sale business affairs, marketing, domestic and international marketing/distribution of film, including up-to-date analysis of current market and financing conditions, and the practical and negotiation skills required to facilitate a project's success.

Participants will be matched with a mentor (a senior executive) for the duration of the initiative, and will be allocated sessions with a career coach.

In addition to the above, each participant will be able to access a dedicated bespoke training pot to meet their specific training needs and to attend additional courses and events between September and the close of the initiative.

Participants

This course is aimed at changing the representation of people from diverse backgrounds at influential levels in the film business. We are looking for applications from talented emerging executives from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background with a proven track record (at least 2–3 years’ experience) of working at Executive level in film production, distribution, sales or exhibition and the potential to lead in their industry.

Please note this is a Film and Business programme and is therefore not targeted at creative talent (producers, writers, directors).

Location

The bootcamp will be held at Ingenious Media, London, W1F

Locations for bespoke training will take place at the NFTS, London and other locations.

Number of places: 8

Fees: £1000

HOW TO APPLY

Please contact shortcourses@nfts.co.uk for an application pack.

Deadline for applications July 24 2015

For more information go to: https://nfts.co.uk/bame-leadership-programme

 

NTFS BAME Leadership Programme

Do you have the potential to be a future leader in the film industry? The National Film and Television School in partnership with Creative Skillset, have launched the BAME LEADERSHIP...

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The Chinese community is a hugely valuable and valued part of UK society. More than half a million people of Chinese origin have made their homes here. Our community is a perfect example of Britain’s strength being built, in part, on its diversity. It is a perception of Britain that we must continue to remind ourselves of.

We now live in a society where the majority of people living in poverty actually have a job. Rather than living lives of opportunity and hope, many of us have to worry and stress about how we’re going to pay the bills and put food on the table.

What has been less discussed is the knock-on impact this financial pressure has had on our national psyche, how we view the world and our perception of the future. Economic crises always have that impact as well, though it takes many different forms.

The Great Recession has had a psychological impact that has the potential to be very damaging to our future: a significant section of our society his questioning how we engage with the world, wanting us to distance ourselves and pull back.

You can see it in the debate on immigration. We must be clear here – the question of how we manage immigration is an important one to ensure that it is a force for good, as it has always been.

However, the current immigration debate is not a positive dialogue about how we make the most of the enormous potential that people of different backgrounds, talents and perspectives represent for our society.

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The debate has been hijacked by a party – UKIP – that wants you to blame others. Who are trying to set our communities against each other. Who are trying to do what all the ideologues of history have done: get you to blame the ‘other. We can see it starting to take root in communities across the country, in the cracks caused by financial hardship.

They not only blame immigrants, but they also blame Europe for every problem. They say very clearly – we’ll be better off all on our own.

They’ve made it simple – to the people who are struggling for hope and control in their lives, they’ve pointed the finger at immigration and Europe and said ‘blame them’. If we just get rid of them, our future is going to be better and you’ll have control over your life again.

The thing is – it may be simple, but that doesn’t make it right.

The challenges in our society are much more fundamental than immigration or Europe. They are - how do we succeed, as individuals, as communities and as a country – in a world that is changing faster than ever? A world in which every big dynamic of change – technology, globalisation, climate change and so many others – naturally increase inequality. It is a world that represents a big challenge, but actually represents a much bigger opportunity.

But there is another way. It starts with recognising the true nature of the challenge we face and being frank about it. How can we create an economy in this fast and constantly changing world that creates jobs that pay enough for people to lead decent lives; jobs that speak to their ambition so life goes beyond a struggle to survive to a quest to thrive. How can we do that for everyone, equally – no matter their background or the stage of life they’re at?

That is the true nature of our challenge. If we are going to tackle it and create a positive future for all of our people – we have to start seeing migrants, immigration and building partnerships around the world as part of the solution, not the problem.

The UK Chinese community and our relationship with China is the perfect example.

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Our contribution to society is immense in every dimension – culturally, economically, academically and technologically. From Sir Charles Kao, the father of fibre optics, to Alan Yau, the founder of the ubiquitous Wagamama, and Jimmy Choo’s global brand, the spectrum of our talents has helped shaped Britain as we know it. In recognition of that, we must ensure we have a visa system that continues to invite talent and contribution, as well as enhance our society.

The Chinese community, like so many others, also represents multiple routes to enormous opportunity for our future. 

The first is by bringing so much talent and investment into the United Kingdom, which is China’s top European destination for foreign direct investment. Chinese companies own stakes in Heathrow and Manchester airports, Weetabix and in North Sea oil. It’s a relationship we must continue to develop in a way that helps build the British market and deliver value to China.

The second way the Chinese community presents a path to opportunity is that it connects us to a market of staggering growth and potential. The world’s 10 fastest growing cities are all in China. Or consider this mind-boggling fact: just the increase in the number of Chinese graduates between 2010 and 2020 will be bigger than the total number of students in the US and the EU combined. That’s an incredible amount of skill entering the global job market.

So to have opportunity in the future, we have to engage with China and the world. But we can’t do that by ourselves. Chinese business people have made it clear that to even think of leaving the EU would be madness. Sitting with our EU partners and half a billion people on one side of the table gives us a huge influence in negotiations with China. Sitting on our own will not. And that point stands with any other country. If we are truly thinking about our future, that is a warning we cannot ignore.

The Great Recession has made our lives tougher, but we can’t allow it to make our future bleaker as well. Building walls of blame and anger between our communities and around our country won’t get us anywhere.

We have to see our communities and the world around us as what they truly are: opportunities. To realise them, we need to make the most of every person and community’s potential. That is what Labour is committed to creating in government – a society where we find strength not in anger and blame, but in each other and in the possibility of a better tomorrow.

Sonny Leong CBE is the Chair of Chinese for Labour.

The article was originally published in February 2015 edition of 'The Orient' - Chinese for Labour's bi-annual publication. If you have an idea for an article, or an event to share then please email alvin@chineseforlabour.org

The Orient Archive: The Chinese Community is an important and valued part of our society and of our future

The Chinese community is a hugely valuable and valued part of UK society. More than half a million people of Chinese origin have made their homes here. Our community is...

As I rode on the tube to participate in a discussion on Chinese life in Britain at UCL I reflected on my own journey. My parents arrived in London from Hong Kong in 1970 with a suitcase and dreams of a better life. I’ve met few people who work as hard as they did, for them work wasn’t a pleasantry it was a matter of survival. Putting bread on the table day in day out. They barely slept working seven days a week any spare time was spent caring for the elders and the children.

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When I speak with some of our people in Brent it reminds me of my parents story, making ends meet, worrying, endless worrying about feeding the family, our basic living conditions and being judged. This is what people really fear, being judged by others, being looked down upon. That’s why even though we had nothing my mum always made sure that I looked semi-presentable before going out, ‘you’re representing us’ she would say.

As I arrived at Euston Square I thought to myself who’s representing us in Britain? Why are there so few British Chinese in public life? I asked that very question to the audience and everyone pointed to David Yip the infamous ‘Chinese Detective’ I responded with, ‘apart from you David!’ In a modern Britain where I truly believe in a progressive society where all are judged on merit and decency it is a question that we struggle still to answer.

Chinese culture is rooted in deep tradition based on an ancient civilization spanning 3,000 plus years with a unique language, formalities and customs. The Chinese philosophy of Ying and Yang is one of harmony, order and balance in life. Who would want the conflict, stress and scrutiny that come with public attention? London is a place where cultures collide with amazing success, in a modern society we adopt the things we like and ignore the things we don’t, we are free to choose. I’m very proud to be British, Chinese and a Londoner my social DNA is a blend of all the above and more, some people call it character, I call it being yourself.

Chinese people still do not feel a part of British society, if we want inclusion, respect and representation we have to participate and let the people decide. Our parents have given us the opportunity to live in the greatest country and cities on earth, let’s make them heard, we have nothing to fear except fear itself.

Audio starts at 19:25 mins & 53:05 mins

Vincent Lo is Vice Chair of Chinese for Labour and Chair of Brent North CLP. If you have an idea for an article and wish to contribute to Chinese for Labour then please send an email to alvin.shum@chineseforlabour.org

Why so few British Chinese in Public Life?

As I rode on the tube to participate in a discussion on Chinese life in Britain at UCL I reflected on my own journey. My parents arrived in London from...

There was much uproar at the above Labour Press press team tweet, much (if not most) from what the party may well consider it's "core vote" protesting a statement which unfortunately does appear to pander to specious right wing logic that public services have to be cut and cut drastically. We all know the banking sector is still rolling in giant bonuses and that there's massive avoidance of corporation tax. 

As a minority ethnic person who works in the arts I would say there's also a crucial element here. A quick google search will reveal that all the outraged voices being quoted on arts cuts are overwhelmingly white and middle class. It surely stands to reason that as arts funding gets cut more and more that, like all things, when you extrapolate outward it's those of us on the fringes and margins who feel the cut more than anyone. It's often slightly surreal reading about the likes of the National Theatre having to make up another £200,000 shortfall in corporate sponsorship but arts funding cuts profoundly affects anyone who is not from the dominant white middle-class demographic. 

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The Arts Council recently expressed concern about the lack of applications from minority ethnic arts organisations for National Portfolio (NPO) funding - funding which essentially enables arts organisations to operate with some form of permanence. It's hardly surprising the number is so low though. 

All the statistics, reports and first-hand experience point to the fact that entry level to ,and (crucially) progress, in arts careers is more difficult than ever. An often closed cloistered and protective environment requiring availability for unpaid “internships” (which take a variety of forms), access to “networks” and ability to speak a coded language, even when we can get there, our work, as people of minority ethnic (and particularly East Asian) background, is relegated to marginalised corners of niche minority interest.

Our experience, training and expertise often counts for nothing, so devalued is it when the decision-makers and gatekeepers insist that the way round this obviously prejudicial state of affairs is to sponsor more box-ticking “training schemes”.

The black American comedian Chris Rock wrote recently that Barack Obama’s position as first black president was not, as most posit, a victory of “progress” for black people. It was, rather, progress for white people. There have been numerous black people who had presidential qualities. White people had to progress to a level where they could potentially allow it to happen.

And this is true of the arts. Chinese and East Asian people, as well as people from all ethnic backgrounds and disabilities, have artistic talent. Of course they do. The “establishment” needs to progress and allow them to flourish. The whole arts sector requires funding for that to happen.

Of course it’s often argued with impossible to verify statistics that “Chinese people only make up 1% of the population” but I’m pretty certain we’re not even getting that in terms of arts funding and presence. It’s also worth bearing in mind that apparently only 7% of children are privately educated. Do we really believe that only 7% of our leading actors, writers, directors and arts decision makers are privately educated?

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And it makes all sorts of fiscal sense as well. There’s an oft repeated statistic that for every £1 spent the arts brings in a further £3. Imagine the potential if we had a more vibrant, diverse, creative and truly competitive “industry” as opposed to what we all too often appear to have: a cosy protectorate “club” for the privileged few and those “in the know”?

The arts is vital for social cohesion, expression and hope. All the major parties miss a massive trick here. The number of potential voters of Chinese descent who do not at present exercise their democratic right is astonishingly high as a percentage.

All too often it appears that people of Chinese and East Asian descent simply do not feel part of modern Britain. They don’t see themselves there. They’re not represented, they’re not included. How can they feel any differently when such a massive part of British life, one we’re all so rightly proud of, our arts and culture simply do not recognise them beyond poorly conceived, badly clichéd and outdated portrayals of “exoticism” and foreignness?

Still, in 2015, no permanent East Asian characters in Eastenders. We seem to say this literally every year. And I would venture the same goes for people of all minority ethnic backgrounds. Instead of allowing them to feel disaffected and alienated let’s try and engage them and make them a true part of Britain. Let’s actively combat that awful UKIP “us and them” agenda.

In case this appears one track let me say I also want to see the next Labour government save the NHS, defend trade unions, fight for better wages and conditions, do away with zero hours contracts, re-nationalise the rail service and speak up on the positive benefits of immigration. But the arts is the world I know and I would like to see a coherent vision and commitment for minority ethnic participation in that world and where people of East Asian descent are not abandoned in the diversity initiative.

Daniel York is an actor, writer, filmmaker and founder member of British East Asian Artists.

The article was originally published in February 2015 edition of The Orient - Chinese for Labour's bi-annual publication. If you have an idea for an article, or an event to share then please email alvin@chineseforlabour.org.

The Orient Archive: British East Asian Artists Community Needs

There was much uproar at the above Labour Press press team tweet, much (if not most) from what the party may well consider it's "core vote" protesting a statement which...

On 30th June 2015, the British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage project will have their formal launch party at Regent's University.

 

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The project, four years in the making, aims to create a historical archive documenting the role of Chinese in the British armed forces throughout history. the archive will be composed of personal reflections, family records and memorabilia of those who served in the British Chinese Armed Forces during the 19th and 20th centuries as well as some 40 extended oral history interviews. The project will develop a research publciation, two international conferences and two exhibitions.

The event will be on Tuesday 30th June 2016, 14:30 - 17:00 at Regent's University London, Inner Circle, Regent's Park, NW1 4NS.

The timetable for the event is as follows:

14:30   Registration and Afternoon Tea

15:30   Welcome Speeches

-          Prof Aldwyn Cooper, Regent’s University London

-          Mr Holland Kwok, Ming-Ai (London Institute)

15:50   British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage Project Introduction

-          Mrs Rachel Hasted, Heritage Lottery Fund

-          Ms Chungwen Li, Ming-Ai (London Institute)

-          Prof Jonathan Liu, Regent’s University London

16:20   Chinese Contribution to British Military History

-          Mr Robert Fleming, National Army Museum

16:40   Q & A

If you wish to attend the launch then please contact tghe Ming-Ai (London) Institute at rsvp@ming-ai.org.uk

 

Project Launch for British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage Project

On 30th June 2015, the British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage project will have their formal launch party at Regent's University.     The project, four years in the making, aims...

Chinese for Labour attended the BAME Leadership Hustings in Harrow yesterday evening. In a jam-packed leisure centre we listened to what the four leadership and five deputy leadership candidates had to say. The Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP and NEC/BAME Member opened the proceedings.

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Andy focused on rebuilding an emotional connection with voters and listening to the people, only with business expansion and growth can we cut the deficit, this will take skills including a new UCAS points system for apprenticeships and making university possible ensures more talent in our economy. Yvette felt that we were too narrowly focussed and we need to broaden our appeal by helping working families and building a stronger economy in a fairer society so that people can vote for Labour with their hearts and minds. Jeremy talked about austerity as a ploy to make poor people poorer and the rich richer and his thirty plus years campaigning for social justice. Liz talked about educating our young and starting early, being pro-business and diversity.

Yvette pledged to double the number of BAME MPs from Labour’s current tally of 23 and Andy pledged to ensure representation on shortlists where the BAME population is >50%. Both candidates acknowledged that the BAME vote could not be taken for granted and must be earned by representation of a modern Britain. The Tories secured 1 million BAME votes in the last General Election.

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The five candidates for the deputy leadership then kicked off the second half of the hustings. Ben Bradshaw committed to regional targets for BAME candidates and changing the process for Parliamentary selections. Stella Creasy discussed Labour becoming a movement for change and bridging members to the leadership. Tom Watson committed to doubling the number of BAME MPs and mentioned that whilst we’ve had exceptional Sikh and Chinese candidates we still do not have one in the Commons. Tom congratulated BAME Labour for taking the initiative in making our voices heard. Angela Eagle talked about young Labour and engaging our younger voters and her passion for social justice. Caroline Flint praised the success of the BAME community and championed social mobility for all.

We're asking questions to the Labour Leader, Deputy Leader and London Mayoral candidates about issues that relate specifically to the Chinese community. If you have a question you'd like to ask then please email as soon as possible to ash@chineseforlabour.org

Labour Leader & Deputy Leadership BAME Hustings

Chinese for Labour attended the BAME Leadership Hustings in Harrow yesterday evening. In a jam-packed leisure centre we listened to what the four leadership and five deputy leadership candidates had...

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