The failure of Labour and Conservative prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs), Imran Hussain and Jackie Whiteley to present themselves at the by-election hustings in Bradford West demonstrates a disregard for the democratic process, say the organisers of the Bradford West 2012 by-election hustings, the Bradford Muslim Women�s Council, the University of Bradford Students Union, Bradford College Students' Union and JUST West Yorkshire. The retiring MP Marsha Singh, and all the PPCs standing in the 2010 general elections attended the Bradford West by-elections hustings and engaged in a robust debate with the electorate on key priorities for the constituency.
Students at Bradford University and Bradford College are particularly angry at the failure of the Labour and Conservative PPCs to respect the democratic process by giving the electorate a chance to vote based on the candidates� position on issues which impact on local communities.
Nabeel Hussain, the President of the Bradford College student�s union said, �Our college students are incensed that the Labour and Conservative candidates have shown so little respect for young people. The withdrawal of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and the rise in university fees has had a devastating impact on many of our young people who are mostly home students. Many of them are voting for the first time and the Conservative�s policies have had a detrimental impact on their life chances. The failure of both the Labour and Conservative parties to give first-time voters an opportunity to genuinely engage in democracy accounts for much of the cynicism that has infected the political process.�
Imad Faghmous, Academic Officer of Bradford University believes that many of Labour and Conservative policies have had a huge impact on the university�s student population. �We have a large home population too and issues of civil liberties and human rights are critical as young people have been at the vanguard of many of the protest movements which enshrine the youth idealism of wanting a more equal and fair society. For many of our Muslim students issues around Britain�s foreign policy, anti-terrorism, war on extremism and stop and search policies have had a detrimental and adverse impact on their lives. The failure of both parties to engage with young people as part of the democratic process and listen to their views on issues is truly disappointing.�
Selina Ullah, Director of Bradford Muslim Women�s Council believes that �clan politics is no longer fit for purpose in modern day Britain. The demographic profile of a place like Bradford West is rapidly changing as Muslim women are becoming more confident and young Muslims are participating in politics on the national and international arena through the social media and the internet. Both the Conservative and Labour parties have been quick to criticise Muslim women for failing to integrate and living �parallel and segregated lives,� but the failure of both candidates to engage with female Muslim voters who will be out on force at the by-election hustings, is tantamount to saying that our votes do not count.�
Ratna Lachman, Director of JUST West Yorkshire, believes that the extremely short campaigning period makes it even more imperative for voters to know the platform on which the incumbent PPC�s are standing on. Canvassing votes on a street-by-street basis has its place in democracy but it fails to give voters the opportunity to know how their candidates are going to perform in the brutal cut and thrust of Westminster life. It does not bode well for the Labour incumbent to say that he will not share a platform with George Galloway when his role as a potential MP will require him to make his mark in politics amidst MPs who may not necessarily share his political views. Likewise the attempt by the Conservative candidate Jackie Whiteley to garner the Muslim vote by campaigning alongside Baroness Warsi represents a cynical political gesture. The truth is that Conservative policies have had a devastating impact on Bradford West, which has some of the highest levels of poverty and unemployment in the country. Voters want to know how she will fight Bradford West's corner against her own party's policies which have widened the North-South divide�
Please also see attached article for your information. http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/local/localbrad/9598228.___Running_scared____jibe_at_opponents/
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