Europe:

Three things to help us say YES

Encourage anti-racist programmes across the EU and support greater diversity within the EU bureaucracies.

Put as much time into the Commonwealth as has been into the EU, and build positive relationships with those countries.

Speed up the processing of migrants at Calais etc to see if they qualify to stay.

Is the revision of the European relationship an opportunity for David Cameron to relook at strengthening ties with the Commonwealth?

The decision over whether to stay or to leave Europe is one that has raised many questions about who we are as a nation. However, the main issue seems to have been the internal politicking within the Conservative party, and who will be the next Tory leader. We have often wondered whether George Osborne’s relationship is as doomed as Gordon Brown's was to Tony Blair. Boris is in the OUT campaign and appears to be vying for Mr Cameron’s job.

However, on a more serious note for the country, the renegotiated deal with Europe will give our community a chance to re-examine our thoughts about Europe.  Ever since the French turned back bus loads of elderly black British pensioners at the border in the 1980’s, the Afro Caribbean relationship with Europe has been strained. Black politicians are rarely seen in European bureaucracy and the new eastern European states are often frightening in terms of some of their nationalist and sometimes racist policies. Just look at the racist chanting at European football matches often directed at our players. We must ensure that there are more people of colour working in European institutions. The Atlanta Blackstar did a survey in 2014 - the 8 worst places for black people to travel; four of them were part of the EU, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain.

Whichever way the vote goes I believe this provides us with an opportunity to ask the government to re-examine and revitalise our relationship with our Commonwealth partners. Future growth potential is far greater than for many of the European partners, mainly due to the diversity within the British population.

David Cameron's visit to Jamaica in September 2015 exemplified breath taking arrogance and insensitivity. The offer of £25 million as contribution towards a jail that would house Jamaicans currently held in British prisons, was an insult. Admittedly the reparations argument was poorly articulated and should have been presented in a better fashion but the disrespect was deeply felt. Over the last couple of years the Jamaican Government has embarked on a comprehensive and ambitious program of reforms for which it has garnered both national and international support. The reform program is beginning to bear fruit: institutional reforms and measures to improve the environment for the private sector have started to restore confidence in the Jamaican economy. Jamaica jumped 27 places to 58 among 189 economies worldwide in the 2015 Doing Business ranking; the country’s credit rating has improved and the Government has successfully raised more than US$2 billion in international capital in the markets in 2014 and 2015; source: The World Bank. Working for a free world.

Would it not have been better to try and support these efforts that have meant that the ordinary Jamaican has faced crushing austerity over the last four years?   Would it not have been more advantageous for all to provide encouragement in a more positive fashion by providing business partnerships to help stimulate growth or to build schools or a fast track scheme for Jamaicans to study at UK universities?

Mr Cameron, spend some time looking at the Commonwealth as you have looked at Europe; the long term benefits could be far more beneficial. 

The situation at Calais and other French ports could be alleviated if a screening process was put in place to quickly determine whether people are eligible to come to the UK. It seems that these people are just pawns in a game between the French and British governments. If we vote NO in the referendum those migrants will be allowed to come to the UK and the plans to use former military bases will fuel even further resentment from both sides. This is a humanitarian disaster. We are a better country than this.

We support the idea of working within the European community but the Prime Minister should negotiate on behalf of all our citizens, and realise that the links with the Commonwealth are just as important but must be based on mutual respect.

If we saw these issues being raised I am sure that many members of the Afro Caribbean community would be more likely to vote YES.

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