Much has been written about the ethnic minority vote and how important it is for them to vote Labour stop Farage’s Brexit Party from ‘winning’ the European elections.
As a second generation immigrant from Hong Kong, I strongly believe that stopping Farage is important for the ethnic minority community. Until Brexit is resolved, successful Brexit Party candidates will take seats in the European Parliament as part of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group, alongside explicitly Islamophobic parties like Alternative für Deutschland. Farage may have left UKIP because the ‘brand’ has become toxic under Gerald Batten, but the Brexit Party sits with other parties that are equally racist.
But even though I’m an ethnic minority Labour candidate for the European elections, I’m not running just to stop the Brexit Party. There are vital issues that matter to the ethnic minority community, and Labour MEPs will work in the European Parliament to address these issues. On average, employees from ethnic minority backgrounds earn less than white employees, and Labour MEPs will work to ensure all workers have the same rights: no job without a contract, no job without a fair salary, and a ban on zero-hours contracts and fake self-employment.
Climate change is having a disproportionate effect on Commonwealth countries, places where our friends and families are from and Labour MEPs will work to transform Europe into a zero-carbon economy with a commitment to 60% of the UK’s energy supply from renewable or low-carbon sources by 2030, and net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.
It’s also important to fight the myth that our membership with the EU is at the cost of our relationship with Commonwealth countries – a myth that resulted in a small, but significant number of BAME voters, voting to leave. Brexiteer politicians like Priti Patel have pandered towards a myth that it’s only because of EU freedom of movement that’s prevented more immigration from Commonwealth countries, from the grandmother from Malaysia wanting to live with her family in the UK to the curry restaurants hiring skilled chefs from South Asia.
The Home Secretary’s plan to class as ‘unskilled’ any migrant workers earning less than £30,000, including nurses, teachers and social care workers, and the Windrush scandal has shown that it’s because of Tory policy, not the EU, that has stopped immigration from the UK. Only a change of the British government can cause a change in immigration policy.
Yes, for the BAME community it is important to stop Farage’s Brexit Party, but it’s equally important to elect MEPs that will do the work and pass policies that will benefit those who come from ethnic minority backgrounds. Only a vote for Labour in the European elections will help achieve that.
Alvin Shum is a resident of Cambridge and is number 4 on the Labour Party list for the East of England.