In this tightly fought snap election, the Black Minority Ethnic (BME) vote could be a determinant winning factor, writes Abdi Mohamed.
According to Operation Black Vote (OBV), in order to understand ‘the potential political power’ of BME voters, one needs to look at marginal seats. Constituencies which have sizeable BME voter populations, such as Bristol West, are target battlegrounds between the rival parties.
Bristol West – which includes Ashley, Bishopston and Ashley Down, Central, Clifton, Clifton Down, Cotham, Easton, Hotwells and Harbourside, Lawrence Hill and Redland – is home to the largest BME population in the city.
Bristol City Council data shows that in Lawrence Hill, and ‘St Pauls Grosvenor Road’ in Ashley, 55% and 80% of all people belong to a BME group respectively.
A recent report by OBV, ‘Power of the Black Vote in 2017’, also notes that the BME voter population (25.48%) in Bristol West is three times higher than the majority of the current MP, Thangam Debbonaire (8.83%). So particularly in Bristol West, and to varying degrees in other cities and towns across the UK, BME voters can seriously sway the outcomes of the general election. (more…)
Abdi Mohamed – Since Saturday, enough has been said about the election of Marvin Rees: The first elected Black and Minority Ethnic mayor in Bristol; ‘the first directly elected city mayor in Europe of African or Caribbean heritage’; the ‘working-class son of an English mother and Jamaican father’; a great day for race equality in Bristol; a symbolic victory, a new dawn, a historic moment – amongst many other adjectives. It was a historic moment, indeed, that many people have never anticipated to happen in their life time.
Arguably the implications are clear; Marvin Rees has simply challenged the ‘stereotypical Establishment figure’, which Owen Jones described as a ‘white male who followed an effortless path … into a lucrative an influential job’. But dealing with the processes of the local governance which have created exclusive environment and structures for the stereotypical figure will be more problematic.
BSMG — As the polls closed for the PCC, mayoral and councillor elections, we asked inner-city voters what did they think about the elections and their predictions for the results – which will be announced on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Most of the inner-city voters we approached agree that the mayoral election is going to be a two-horse race. They believe if Marvin Rees is to be elected, he must win the first round of the counting; but if it goes to a second ballot George Ferguson will get elected.
Mohamed Youssuf, Ashley resident: “Bristol is a fractured city and it isn’t ready to elect a BME mayor yet.”
Fuad Taarwale, Lawrence Hill resident and Labour voter: “George Ferguson will win the mayoral election because the inner city wards, where BME [Black, Minority and Ethnic] and Labour voters mostly concentrate, have always had the lowest turnouts.”
Mohamed Abdi Sayaqle, Lawrence Hill resident and Labour voter: “Labour will retain [its minority] in the council, but George will win [the mayoral election] again because Labour doesn’t seem to have the tenacity to put Marvin in office.”
Mohamed Mohamoud, Ashley resident: “I think George Ferguson is going to come back as Marvin wouldn’t be able to win the first round of the count and because the majority of the people do not vote … Secondly, I believe the only thing that George got it right was the [controversial] Resident Parking Zone [and that is why he is going to be re-elected].”
AbdiHakim Asir, Lawrence Hill resident: “I would love to see Marvin win because he understands the issues faced by people living in our area [Lawrence Hill], but it’s likely that George will come back because of his record.”
Saed Ali, Lawrence Hill resident: “It’s very difficult to predict the results of the Bristol mayor election. If Marvin doesn’t get 50% of the votes, he will struggle [to win a second ballot]. But it seems that he will be our mayor for the next four years, because of the way that Labour worked through the campaign – and London could have its very Black mayor.
Recently we have seen two miracles: Jeremey Corbyn (200/1) was crowned as the leader of the Labour party and Leicester City (5000/1) won the premier league. Therefore, I wouldn’t get surprised if Mayor Festus Kudehinbu (200/1), a taxi driver, becomes our next mayor.
Locally, Margret Hickman and Hibaq Jama will be re-elected [as councillors for Lawrence Hill] because of the Somali vote – and Mahadi Sharif is going to be the first Somali councillor in Manchester.”
Abdul Ahmed, Lawrence Hill resident: “My slogan is Marvin4Mayor. Not that I have a lot of expectations from him, but Marvin as a person is a change. Change in terms of the leadership of this city and in terms of the history of this city and the country. A black man filling the highest position of this city must inspire our hopeless youngsters – especially boys.”
Muhsin Baasey, Lawrence Hill resident and Labour voter: “I voted for Marvin and if he doesn’t get 50% of the votes, it will go to a second ballot which is going to be George’s. Consequently, it does mean that Bristol want George to finish the job he has started.”
Abdi Mohamed – Voting has already started across Britain this morning. And the Somali voters in Cardiff, the Welsh Assembly elections will certainly give them opportunities to improve political participation and influence change. Moreover, it will empower them feel belonging, included in mainstream society as one of their beloved sons is strongly campaigning – though he is going to be a Councillor candidate in May 2017 – for a party that they have never been associated with or voted for.
Cardiff is home to a long standing Somali community who play a huge role in the life of the city. They have lived in the city since the 1850s and have served the armed forces, the NHS, schools and education institutions, service providing agencies and the voluntary sector. However, political participation has been a challenge which they could now overcome with the help of one young man. (more…)
“We must give young people a voice; I’ll make sure that their voice is heard. Their main concern is the lack of youth centres in the city. Equally, I’m committed to working with schools to ensure that they are preparing our children the world out there.”
Abdi Mohamed – For Mahadi Sharif, the upcoming local elections are not only about improving political participation. It is, and more importantly, about embarking on a political career. But for many Somalis in Manchester it is about electing the first Somali councillor, who would in turn enable them gain access to the local decision making platforms.
Abdi Mohamed – On the evening of the 5th of April, many people patiently queued up to enter the City Academy‘s Fielden Theatre to attend the Bristol mayoral question time on race equality organised by Black South West Network (BSWN) and Up Our Street in association with BCfm Radio. The striking feature of the hustings was not about how the 250 capacity seated was filled, nor was it about the non-partisan organisers’ outstanding event planning skills and experience, nor was it about the eloquence of the chair, but it was about the quality of the questions and the answers given by the mayoral candidates.
The prospective mayors tried their best to answer a range of questions about education, employment and housing, amongst many – vis-à-vis with tackling inequalities – apart from a very simple question about the single largest BME group in Bristol.
Tafatire (Editor) – Dadka reer Bristol waxay 5ta May u dareerayaan doorashadii maayarka ama Duqa Magaalada, waana markii labaad ee ay doorasho noocan ahi dhacayso – waxa kale oo isla maalintaa la dooran doonaa 70ka xildhibaan ee golaha deegaanka iyo hoggaamiyaha ciidanka amaanka (Police Crime Commissioner) ee gobolka Avon & Somerset. Haddaba bulshada qaar ka mid ah ayaa maalmahanba isweydiinayay habkan maayarnimadu siduu u shaqeeyay ama wax u qabtay, isbedel intee leeg ayuu keenay iyo hogaamiye noocee ah ayay u baahanyihiin in ay doortaan.
Bristol waxay maayarkii ugu horeeyay dooratay 2012kii, laakiin habkan maamulka maayarnimadu wuxuu keenay fursado iyo caqabado labadaba. Habkani wuxuu golihii siyaasadda magaalada laga hagayay ka dhigay mid ka maddaxbanaan isqabqabsigii iyo xafiiltankii xisbiyada siyaasiga ah. Dhinaca kalena, wuxuu bulshada deegaanka ka caawiyay in ay ogaaadaan oo gartaan cida magaalada ka talisa taasoo aan hore u dhici jirin. Warbixin sannadkii hore (2015) ay soosaartay jaamacadda Bristol ayaa sheegtay in “maayarkii dadku tooska u doorteen uu isbedel weyn ku sameeyay muuqaalkii hoggaanka magaalada.” Dhinaca kale marka laga eego, maayarkii la doortay wuxuu hoos u dhigay awoodii xildhibaanada golaha deegaanka. Xildhibaanadu “si taban ayay u arkayeen, halka hoggaamiyeyaasha bulshada, ganacsatada, iyo ururada bulshadu ay isku raaceen in hab-maamuleedka maayarnimadu uu dantii Bristol si fiican uga shaqeeyay.”
Si kastaba ha ahaatee, habka maayarnimadu danta bulshooyinka magaalada degan si siman oo isku mid ah ugumuu shaqayn. (more…)
The only time I feel included is during the election campaign, says Somali voter – Bristol mayoral election 2016
Abdi Mohamed – Bristol is going to the polls on 5th May to elect its second mayor in less than four years – and 70 councillors at once for the first time. But in community circles, voters have been trying to understand how far has the city travelled with the mayoral system and what kind of mayor do they want to elect.
The mayoral system has, of course, brought both opportunities and challenges to the city. In addition to creating a platform that is not attached to party politics, it has enabled local residents recognise the leadership of the city. A 2015 study report by Bristol University found, “a directly elected mayor in Bristol has led to a dramatic increase in the visibility of leadership in the city.” On the other hand, having a directly elected mayor has reduced the power of the councillors. They were “less positive than from public managers and leaders from business, community and voluntary sector who agreed that the introduction of the mayoral system had ensured the interests of Bristol are better represented,” the study notes.
However, the mayoral system has not served the interests of all communities in equal terms.
Abdi O. Mohamed – The simple answer to this question is that many in the community feel they could make a great contribution to the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) vote in Bristol, which is anticipated to be key to the results of the elections in May. But the longer answer would entail an understanding of how their vote can influence change.
The Somali population in Bristol has increased substantially over the last fifteen years and they now make up the single largest migrant group in the city. Equally, anecdotal evidence indicates that the number of Somali voters has doubled and they can arguably determine the results of the 2015 general election as well as the local elections that will happen in certain wards, particularly the inner city wards. Continue reading