Who said only a black, Muslim and single mother can represent me and my values?

Posted 19 Jul 2014 by Walaa Idris

As someone who ticks a lot of boxes – woman, black, immigrant, Muslim and a single mother of two – I worry about where we’re going with the ‘representation’ issue. Don’t get me wrong, having a legislator representative of all views and segments of the society is a great thing, a fair thing plus is also the right thing. But when I hear commentators and politicians talk about “looking more like the country” I wonder what does that really mean?

Does it mean aesthetically, as in a percentage of every group in the country visually represented? Or is it a representation of thoughts and principles? Because one is clearly not the other!

The latter does not focus on race, gender or religion while the former is very specific, in that it asks for each group to be represented in certain percentages i.e. the UK’s population is 50% female so the House of Common should reflect that in its members.

Where did it come from? Who decided that only a black, immigrant, Muslim and single mother can mirror my beliefs, speaks on my behalf and represents me?

I am a low tax, punishment should fit the crime, and time means time, monitored, managed and controlled immigration, Eurosceptic – EU needs to reform and if it doesn’t, very happy for us to leave it – shoot from the right Conservative. The last time I checked there are many Tory MPs who share my exact politics. A party member since 2000, I never once felt, neither in the past nor now, unrepresented in Parliament. So where’s the problem?

And why in the last half of 2014 we are worried about gender and race when what we should be concerned with is engagement. It seems to me there are more people today, percentage wise, disengaged and disillusioned with politics than ever before. That feeling is not because women can only speak for women and minorities can only speak for their groups. It’s because to these people politics doesn’t feel authentic enough.

Surprisingly, one of the reasons the public feels this way, is because of this ‘our team have more women, black and ethnic minorities than yours’ business. It cheapens politics and makes it more about looking like someone as oppose to sharing their views and values.

As Conservatives our core principle is to promote based on merit and equality. After all we are the first and the only party to produce a female British Prime Minster and we did it over 35 years ago. Plus we did it organically without any cosmetic social engineering imposed on members program.

Diversity should not be interpreted as an inventory of the different groups. But rather the variety of thoughts and options, and yes our politicians should reflect the societies they represent. But that reflection should not mainly focus on visual and aesthetic differences, it should focus on the reflection of choices and the variety of options.

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