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The Asian Today interview: Election 2010 Your Choice Your Vote

Published in The Asian Today, Tuesday 4th May 2010

By Zeenat Moosa 

A recent poll by The BBC Asian Network Radio suggests that just 44% of British Asians are like to vote in the Election on Thursday 6th May. This is obviously not an impressive statistic. How does this make you feel?
What I am been saying in every single interview that I have been doing is that people, not just Asians, need to go out and vote. In the European Union elections last year people didn’t go out and vote and as a result we now have two MEPs from the British Nationalist Party. This is an important election of our generation. People need to go to the ballet box and vote.
So you do admit there is a problem?
I do agree that there is voter apathy due to the expenses scandal and other scandals from Westminster. People feel that politics is broken and mps are not listening to their people. That is why David Cameron has pledged to clean up politics. Parliaments shouldn’t be so costly and that is why the Conservative party has urged all their mps to publish their expenses online and under a conservative government there will be no perks for mps. It is time for a fresh start and therefore it is important that people go out and vote. 
You now have a record number of women and Ethnic Minority mps standing in this election. Do you think that the Conservative Party has finally been able to detach itself away from their too white, too male image?  
David Cameron did say at the very beginning that he wished to change the face of the Conservative Party and the faces within the party too. If we are to represent today’s Britain then the party must reflect the way Britain looks, feels and is. Therefore I believe it is very important for both men and women to be equal in the workforce. The Conservative Party now has 20 women MPs. If we were to win this election by just a majority of 1, this would increase the number of women to 60. We currently have two ethnic MPs – should we come to power this will increase to 15. The Conservatives will be a different party in government.
One of the key issues affecting voters is the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. What is the Conservative Party stance on this?
We have always said that there is not only a military option in terms of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and is important that we have a healthy mind. David Cameron, William Hague and I recently made a trip to Pakistan and it became very clear that Pakistan and Afghanistan are very close allies and therefore we would need to utilise this. We do owe it to the people of both Afghanistan and Iraq to secure and stabilise their country – it is not a question of walking away. I mean a recent organisation recently reported that the number of women in Afghanistan who are setting themselves on fire is now higher than it was 10 years ago.
The term Islamaphobia is often thrown about in the media. As a female Muslim in the public eye what do you make of this?
I hate this term as it suggests Islam is a religion to be feared. I prefer to use the term Anti Islamic Sentiment. A year ago I stood on the platform at the Tory Party Conference and said that this is the last socially acceptable form of bigotry. The reality is that this is occurring in our society – things are said about Islam that we wouldn’t dare say about other religions.
I have continuous pressed for an inquiry into it as there was an inquiry into the Anti Semitic Sentiment. I have also expressed the importance of logging all sentiments down as currently we know that this happening but have no statistics or data to back this up.
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