10:28 GMT14 April 2021
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    Founder of the Birmingham Empowerment Forum said that encouraging people from the black and ethnic minority communities in the UK to vote will not just increase participation in elections but also improve wider civic society.

    EDINBURGH (Sputnik), Mark Hirst – Encouraging people from the black and ethnic minority communities in the UK to vote will not just increase participation in elections but also improve wider civic society, Desmond Jaddoo, founder of the Birmingham Empowerment Forum, has told Sputnik.

    "We have generational disaffection. We have parents in some cases who are encouraging their families not to take part in civil life, and that is not helpful," Jaddoo, a leading activist in the African-Caribbean community, said.

    "It is an education process that being registered to vote isn't just about casting a vote in an election, it is about opening up greater participation in wider society. The impact of disaffection is not just on the voting system," Jaddoo added.

    Speaking as the new UK-wide campaign was launched which aims to encourage more black and ethnic minority people to vote in UK elections, Jaddoo told Sputnik he and other activists were taking inspiration from leading US black activist Martin Luther King.

    "Something that Martin Luther King talked about during the civil rights movement in the US which the African-Caribbean community in the UK feels today is the demographics of juries when anyone goes to court. But as Luther King said, and which I support, is that if you are not registered to vote you can't take part in jury service," Jaddoo said.

    The new campaign, which involves sending 43 high-tech buses across the country, aims to give people from ethnic backgrounds the motivation to take part in elections.

    But Jaddoo said the campaign faces a tough challenge as levels of disaffection are high and many feel disappointment that the Labour Party, which has historically relied on votes from ethnic minority communities, has turned its back on them.

    "Historically, in excess of 50 years, the African-Caribbean community have had a culture of voting Labour. My own mother was Chair of the local Labour branch many years ago. We all know that culture because we were all brought up in that culture," Jaddoo told Sputnik.

    "So today when we see that Labour are undervaluing the contributions of the African-Caribbean community we feel that is absolutely horrendous," Jaddoo added.

    According to the Electoral Commission, one in 10 of the electorate in England and Wales were born outside the UK.

    The UK general election will be held on May 7.


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