29 October 2012
At the Conservative Muslim Forum's (CMF) Eid Reception, I was asked to give a two minute speech about why people should join the CMF.
To ensure that I got the timing right, I typed out the full text of the speech in advance; my experience of doing "Thought for the week" on BBC Radio Manchester has taught me that two minutes equals 360 words. The text below is slightly longer, at 382 words.
Good evening, Asalaamu Alaikum and Eid Mubarak.
I have a couple of minutes to talk about the Conservative Muslim Forum and why you should join it. I warn you now that, since I am a chartered accountant, there are no jokes in my talk.
I joined the Conservative Party in 1983, and have now been a member for almost 30 years. The Party today is completely different from the Party I joined in 1983.
In 1983 the Conservative Party membership was almost all white, apart from occasional pioneers like me. Today we have Conservative MP's who are Muslim, Conservative MP's who are Hindu, Conservative MP's who are Sikh and Conservative MP's who are Afro-Caribbean.
Let me paraphrase something Dominic Grieve who unfortunately cannot be with us tonight has said on many occasions. Dominic’s message is:
The Conservative Party does not care where you are from.
It cares about what you can do for our I emphasised the word "our". Using "our" rather than the country name Britain makes the point stronger. In my view one uses the country name for foreign countries; my own country is just "my country". country.
I am a Conservative because the values of the Conservative Party resonate with my values as a Muslim.
I believe in:
The Conservative Party understands these values.
When I ask a Muslim to join the CMF, I usually get two objections:
Firstly, in the real world, you will never find a political party that you agree with 100%, unless you create your own. Creating your own party is a good way to waste your time.
In England the only real choice is between the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrat Party.
Secondly, the CMF does have some real influence. However, I am not going to exaggerate our influence. In politics you get influence by making a contribution. You contribute with your ideas, with campaigning effort, by recruiting members and by donating money. The more of those things that the CMF does, the more influence we will have.
You have a simple choice.
You can sit on the side lines, as a bystander, saying what is wrong with politics.
Alternatively you can join us and change things.
That is what I am asking you to do.
The Conservative Muslim Forum website contains a form you can use to simultaneously join the Conservative Party and join the CMF.