Why Muslims should vote for the Lib Dems

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Baroness Manzoor CBE, Lib Dem Peer recognised for her work in Business and the public sector

Exclusive: The Lib Dems are the party of opportunity. We believe everybody, no matter who they are, should be given the same chances in life. We want to do all we can to make sure everyone has the opportunities to get on in life.

Conservatives are seeking to remove some of the basic freedoms in the European Convention of Human Rights, which sit strongly alongside the principles of Islam. We are the only party in the UK that genuinely supports fundamental human rights and civil liberties.

We desire to build a fairer society is balanced with our desire to build a stronger economy.  For the UK to thrive we need to take advantage of all our talents and build our economy on the diversity of the people of the UK. Muslim men are reportedly 76% less likely to be employed then white Christians of a similar age. This is appalling. We are encouraging those companies that reflect equality and diversity good practice. Part of the problem is at the top, company heads do not reflect the population (only 5% of our board members are from ethnic minorities). The next government must ensure that change happens. We want to see, at the very least, one non-white person on every board of FTSE 100 companies by 2020.

The Quran advocates only one tax; Zakaat that is only payable by those who have excess wealth left over at the end of the year i.e. the rich. It is paid as a percentage on the wealth so the richer pay more. It is distributed to the poor, the sick, disabled, the elderly and the needy and used to abolish poverty and need. We achieved this with cutting income tax for poorest and want to impose mansion tax on the richest.

We are also an internationalist Party.  Nick Clegg was the only Party leader willing to stand up to the nationalistic, anti-immigration message spouted by Nigel Farage. We believe in a Britain that is open to trade, open to new ideas and that promotes equality throughout the world.  We were the only major Party to vote against the disastrous Iraq war and our MPs continue to work to promote diplomatic solutions to international problems.

My background is in health, I was the Chair of the Northern and Yorkshire NHS Regions. Many health issues affect ethnic minorities more adversely than other parts of the population, yet they often have more difficulty accessing services. We are fighting to end these differences and discrimination in our health provision

For example, as a party we are pushing for equality in mental health provision, an area where ethnic minorities are over represented, we have enshrined in law the equal status of mental and physical health in the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

There is further inequality in how mental health problems affect different groups within society. People from a minority background are more likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital for mental illnesses. Furthermore, they are more likely to disengage from the services on offer. This is causing an unnecessary and avoidable divisions in society. We made clear that culturally appropriate services are offered on the NHS, we need our National Health Service to work for our modern nation. It is for these reasons mental health will be a key part of our manifesto.

We also find inequalities in social care. Black and ethnic minority groups do not get the same service as others. Ethnic minorities are less likely to use health and social care services and those that do often appear to get worse treatment.

We  want to change this statistic, we are introducing a £75,000 cap on care costs and giving financial support to people with less than £123,000 assets. Nobody will have to sell their home to pay for care during their lifetime thanks to our plans. We are determined that everybody should have the opportunity to access good quality care.

We are working hard to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities in life. We need to ensure that our society is built on equality and fairness. We must build a fair society across the board, in government, in business, in health, in education. We must represent, and cater for, the diversity of our society throughout our society. With your votes and support,  the Liberal Democrats are the party that will deliver this.

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