SONNY LEONG | CHINESE NEW YEAR SPEECH (Reception)
Thank you so much.
First of all, on behalf of Chinese for Labour, I want to say a very warm welcome and happy New Year!
Welcome to Jeremy Corbyn, H E Ambassador Liu, Tom Watson and everyone
Xin Nian Kuai Le.
It is good to see so many old friends here as well as some faces that will hopefully become new friends!
What our new friends don’t yet know is that I give one of these speeches every year.
Given that this is our New Year and a time of renewal, I often look at the year just gone and reflect on what’s happened.
So I sat down to write tonight’s speech and thought about the last year.
And then I got up and poured myself a drink!
Don’t worry – I’m not going to give you a blow by blow account.
I think just remembering how I felt on the 8th May – well, I’m not ready to cry in front of you tonight!
From all of our various perspectives, backgrounds and histories,
we have all been trying to figure out what everything means;
what the party will become in the next four years and most importantly whether we can win in 2020.
Tonight, I am going to keep it short – but I would like to share two observations about what I hope the party will do in the next months and years to give us a real shot at winning in 2020.
The first is that this party is built on the strength of its diversity –
of background and of experience.
It is why I have always been so passionate about Chinese for Labour –
not just to give greater voice to people of Chinese origin in politics, but also to help the Labour party hear another perspective, gain another asset and become a richer, more diverse party.
Just as our diversity can be the strength of our party, I believe it is also the great strength of this country.
The Labour Party has always been the party of equality, of internationalism – of championing Britain’s status as a nation of immigrants – this we must never forget
The second point I would like to make tonight is that Labour has, tragically, taken the vote of ethnic minority people, like many of us, for granted.
And if we don’t act to correct that, we will pay a steep price – at the polls, in the make up of our party and in our leadership for generations to come.
The party hasn’t recognised that our approach to people from ethnic minority backgrounds has been backward looking – relying on past success and simplistic grouping
people of very different cultures together because it’s easier.
‘Asian’ comes to mean everything from Bangalore to Beijing. ‘Black’ comes to mean everything from Mombasa to Montego Bay.
In essence, Labour’s approach has failed to recognise three truths of today’s politics:
- That people always look to their future
- Voting does not simply and uncritically pass from one generation to the next
- People, more than ever, want to achieve their individual hopes and dreams
People who are the second-, third-, and fourth-generation of families who have come here from across the world don’t simply vote on the basis of what Labour did in ‘60s and 70s, or even in government in the 21st Century.
They want to know that Labour is working to create a society in which their lives are more secure and they have a better chance of making their individual hopes come true.
We know what we need to do – but don’t worry I’m not going to go through every policy point tonight – I’m not a politician!
So in the next year – in the new politics – I ask you this as you take your action to help Labour win in the May elections and work towards 2020 - let’s live our values.
Let us listen to each other, to people of every background and understand what they need from and can contribute to this Labour Party and our shared society.
What can we make possible for the next generation if we live our values to champion, embrace and build diversity again?
That must be the new politics.
Thank you so much and have a good night.