It makes me livid that the Labour Party assumes black people must support it – Evening Standard

It makes me livid that the Labour Party assumes black people must support it – Evening Standard

Apart from the London mayoral elections, I have never voted Tory, but I know many black and brown people who have. My beautiful younger brother is one such person. Not only is Mohammed a proud Tory but he is also the chair and founder of the Somali Conservatives and will be standing for the party in 2018 local elections.

So when a 2010 blog by Kensington Labour MP Emma Dent Coad surfaced, referring to Shaun Bailey a “token ghetto boy”, I took offence. No, actually I was livid. Like my brother, Shaun is black and a Tory. My brother and many of those I love and respect, who are proud Conservative members, are not tokens. They are brave, bright people who have chosen to vote for and back a party they believe in. They also want to help  it change.

As a child, Mohammed, like me, saw our grandfather dragged out of his bed in Hargeisa, now the capital of Somaliland, in the middle of the night for speaking out against a dictator. As a result of this and the civil war my family were forced to flee.

Something like that shapes your life. For my family it meant we became very political and some of us joined political parties.

None is perfect — I am a member of the Women’s Equality Party — but there is a prevalent idea that Labour owns black and minority ethnic (BAME) people, which I reject. That was the undertone of Dent Coad’s statement, and a toxic reminder of why Labour has lost me and many of my peers.

To me, the Labour Party is all talk and no action. I get trolled by its members and I have even been blocked on Twitter by members of the shadow cabinet — I think because I work with Tory MPs to end female genital mutilation.

Many on the Left still believe that FGM is a cultural issue and that we should be “talking” to abusers and prefer to “respect” differences rather than saving girls like me.

One senior Labour figure once told me they would have to see “how it plays out with the mosques” when I asked him to back me in my fight.

During my campaigning on FGM I have been open to working with anyone in power, but in my experience the Labour Party has shown little interest, while  those in the Conservative Party have been quick to respond.

From David Cameron to the current Prime Minister, Conservative politicians have demonstrated that they care about ending FGM. For me and 200 million women across the world who have been cut this is crucial.

Today there is a real possibility that FGM can and will end within our lifetime and that is thanks to some very white and posh men who saw me and listened.

As Kemi Badenoch — a rising star and very black Tory MP — said, the attitude that black people cannot be Tories “traps many black children within imaginary boundaries they believe they aren’t allowed to cross. They end up living less than the very best lives they can.”

Seeing MPs such as Badenoch and James Cleverly in the House of Commons means that my niece and little cousins can see people like themselves in positions of power.

The BAME population of this great country is diverse, and as such, we have the constitutionally-given right to join and support whichever party we wish. Dent Coad and her party would do well to remember that.

I did not need Jeremy Corybn to unlock my talent in order to get three law degrees and I am not waiting for him and his band of Lefty loons to set me free.

Hijab Barbie is not for children to play with

I’ve never played with a Barbie doll and I don’t intend to buy one for any of the girls in my family. I totally get that the makers of Barbie want to sell more of them in the run-up to Christmas but I would not buy my six-year-old niece Sofia a make-up-wearing Barbie, and for the same reason I would not buy her a hijab-wearing one.

The hijab, like make-up and other things meant for adults, is not for children to play with. Instead I would love a world in which girls have strong female icons to admire in many industries — and not have dolls marketed to them by a company such as Mattel.

My homeland is leading the way in outlawing FGM

On Monday Somaliland held its fifth multi-party presidential election, though the results are not in yet. Despite the lack of international recognition, Somaliland is leading the way in the region on so many fronts. Last week, in the final days of the election campaign, I visited Hargeisa, the city of my birth, to lobby for legislation to ban FGM.

Somaliland has the world’s highest incidence of FGM. Like me, 98 per cent of women and girls in the country have undergone FGM — but there is hope. Not only did all three of the men seeking to be the next president agree with me on the subject, they and their party chairmen agreed to table legislation on FGM in their first 100 days.

I know politicians will say anything to get elected but sitting down with these men, I believed them.

I hope to travel back to Somaliland in February with Zac Goldsmith, who has played a significant role in supporting this work. Ending FGM within a generation is something I believe we will achieve. I am proud that Somaliland is leading the way.

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