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 contained general questions focusing on BAME issues, while the second released today are specifically related to the Chinese community.
1. Chinese for Labour has campaigned with others on the issue of problem gambling (which is thought to be as prevalent as Class A drug use) and the proliferation of bookmakers for many years. We think it’s bad for those individuals and their families but also our neighbourhoods and communities. What can and will you do about it as Leader of the Opposition?
LK: Labour needs to win power in order to give it away, so that people have more control in their communities. They are best placed to hear from community concerns about areas disproportionately targeted by bookmakers and other gambling providers - and act where there are local issues.
AB: I understand that problem gambling is an important issue affecting many communities across the UK. I am committed to giving local authorities more power to control their high streets including over the presence of bookmakers, fixed—odds betting terminals and other gambling establishments.
YC: Problem gambling is a serious issue and we must ensure that this is tackled properly. As Leader of the Labour Party, I think we should look again at making sure local councils have the powers and resources to tackle this problem. As part of this, we should push for measures that give local residents more of a say in new licences issued.
JC: The overall provision for help to those with a variety of addictive problems, whether through the NHS or social services, is insufficient in general and for those with addictive gambling problems almost non-existent. This should be extended as should help to the affected families.
There should be a limit to the number of licences for bookmakers and other gambling outlets in an area and the power of councils to block licenses and applications should be extended, and to limit the prevalence of fixed odds betting machines.
2. Many Chinese Associations in the UK do a great job in providing services for the elderly Chinese population including lunch clubs, advocacy and healthy living classes. As NHS and social care funding has been squeezed under this government Chinese Associations have had to cut back and some have ceased. How would you close the growing funding gap for the NHS and social care?
AB: Labour created the NHS to free people from the fear of medical fees. We now need to do the same with care charges.
I am putting forward a radical vision for the NHS and Social Care. I am committed to applying the NHS principle to social care – where everybody is asked to make a contribution according to their means and where everybody has the peace of mind of knowing that all of their care needs, and those of their family, are covered.
YC: The NHS is under huge strain and staff are bearing the brunt of this. There's a shortage of midwives and nurses, doctors and care workers continue to operate under immense pressure.
It was extremely disappointing to see that the Tories have already broken their promise on capping the cost of social care. It's clear the Conservatives have no qualms about making empty promises to win elections with no intention of honouring them. This will impact massively on our NHS, which is already struggling under the weight of crippling social care costs and demonstrates our health service is not safe in Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron's hands.
We need a strong Labour leader who can take on the Tories from day one. As Labour leader I will always hold David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt to account on their broken promises on the NHS and Social Care.
JC: The voluntary sector has always played a vital role in supplementing public provision. The devastating cuts to local government grants, and by an NHS struggling with PFI debts, has had a huge impact on grants to local voluntary organisations - and the communities they serve.
We should bring together Health & Social Care into a single service with ring-fenced funding. The cuts to social care are anyway a false economy: increasing the burdens on NHS A&Es, hospitals and GP surgeries.
LK: This is one of the greatest challenges that we face as a society and something on which have worked closely as a shadow minister. The four policies that I would introduce as leader of a Labour government would be to:
• Give families the right to choose their own carer.
• End the scandal of low pay for carers.
• Outlaw carers not being paid for travel time and having to buy their own uniforms.
• Close Assessment Treatment Units to protect those with learning disabilities and ensure an improved standard of care.
These policies will be funded by a sustainable and responsible economic policy, not by irresponsible promises.
3. What are your thoughts on Government policy towards China and East Asia and what would you differently if you were Prime Minister
YC: It is important to build on our strong relationship with China, including efforts to support sustainable growth in the international economy, and to maintain dialogue between our two countries through the UK-China strategic dialogue on human rights and democracy. We should also be working together to seek a stable and non-nuclear Korean peninsula and to tackle climate change.
LK: I want to lead a Labour Party and a country that looks out to the world and shows leadership on the international stage. On issues like climate change, we can’t simply look and act inward but we have to work across borders in order to have an impact. China is the world’s second largest economy and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, so we can’t afford not to keep a good relationship between our two countries.
I want to maintain a dialogue that is positive on co-operation on trade, education and climate change and firm on issues like human rights.
JC: The success of China in rising from one of the poorest countries in the world to a moderately prosperous society, lifting 650 million people out of UN defined poverty, is an inspiring achievement, all in the space of half a century.
There are many lessons from that we should be open to learning from this success. For too long China was approached with closed minds in the west. Happily this is beginning to change and more people are taking an interest in the culture of one fifth of humanity.
China is a growing trading partner for the UK, which can aid our economy. We also have much to learn from some east Asian countries that have invested in good infrastructure (e.g. rail and superfast broadband) and are reaping the economic benefits of that investment. I agreed with the UK joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank despite US objections.
All of this means we should build close diplomatic, economic and trading relations with China, amplified by cultural exchanges and regular government to government dialogue, within which we can discuss all issues of concern between our countries.
The present government has taken some steps on this but more are needed. I am committed to a peaceful world and am concerned about the growing arms build up in east Asia. I am concerned by proposals to change Japan’s constitution to allow it to extend its militarisation. The US has stepped up its military presence in east Asia and the region is becoming much less stable. The UK’s role should be to help ensure peace not inflame regional tensions.
We have a commitment to human rights, and to creating a more peaceful world. So we have to raise these issues, even when we know it may be uncomfortable. I recently visited Iran on a delegation with Jack Straw and Lord Lamont - and raised human rights concerns as well as trade issues. We need an honest and open dialogue with all countries.
AB: Trade links between the UK and East Asian economies are important and we should encourage investment from overseas. Andy will therefore continue a healthy and stable development of UK-China relations as well as with other East Asian countries.
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