The BME Hustings was held just before the elections in Westminster in order to highlight and discuss political issues affecting BME communities, and to encourage them to participate in the democratic process. FRAE’s staff and board of directors took up the challenge and within a short space of time had put together this important event. The working group consisted of Bill Mair, Ade Johnson, Naeem Khalid and Adnan Miyasar.
To their credit, the evening was a great success, attracting around 120 people, including BME community representatives and individuals and several high profile campaigners from other equality groups. Local politicians in the audience included the Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Alex Rowley, Cllr Alice Soper, Cllr Bryan Poole, and Marilyn Livingstone, MSP.
The event was moderated by Adnan Miyasar, joint Chair of FRAE Fife. Speakers were Sheila Low, the Conservative candidate for Glenrothes; Mark Hood, the Labour candidate for North East Fife; John Mainland, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath; and Douglas Chapman, the SNP candidate for Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath. Two local independent candidates also attended: Susan Archibald and Donald MacLaren of MacLaren.
We received more than a dozen questions from community groups, equality organisations and individuals. The debate was lively, informative and fruitful, with enthusiastic participation from the diverse audience. Topics covered ranged from local issues to foreign affairs and took in equalities, civil liberties and education.
The audience greatly enjoyed the event – as shown by the large numbers who stayed behind at the end, keen to speak further with all of the candidates - indicating the level of interest generated by the questions. Media interest was also demonstrated, as the event was covered by Channel Fife TV and the Fife Free Press.