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(The EXPOSURE, March 2, 2010) - Votes from the Caribbean Diaspora can influence the coming United Kingdom general elections, Dr. Joe Aldred stated during the first session of Caribbean Question Time (CQT) UK 2010 forum in London. Dr. Aldred was moderator of the first CQT forum, aimed at encouraging Caribbean people in the United Kingdom (UK) to play a greater role in the elections due there by June this year. With sessions following up in Birmingham and Manchester, the final session will be held in Bristol on Saturday, February 27. [caption id="attachment_1560" align="alignleft" width="232" caption="Earl Jarrett, general manager, Jamaica National."]
"Most Caribbean people will find themselves living in seats that can directly influence the voting and who wins in this election,” Dr. Aldred told the audience of more than 150 on Wednesday, (Feb 24). He said, “Our vote really matters."
A Bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy, Dr. Aldred challenged political representatives on the seminar panel to respond to the concerns of the audience. Panellists included Labour Party Member of Parliament Dawn Butler; Conservative Party candidate Shaun Bailey; Liberal Democratic Party candidate Chris Nicholson; businesswoman Joy Nichols; and Queen's chaplain, the Reverend Rose Hudson Wilkin.
One member of the audience questioned whether there was still a ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the Caribbean. She suggested the relationship no longer existed and the Caribbean should, “Move on.”
However, Member of Parliament Dawn Butler pointed out that last year, there was a demonstration of the strength of the Caribbean Community in the UK with the successful lobbying campaign against the Air Passenger Duty and the discriminatory charging bands placed on Caribbean countries.
Businesswoman Joy Nichols stated that when Caribbeans cast their ballots in the UK this year, "We must know exactly what we want in return."
The discussion forums organized by Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) in concert with The University of the West Indies, sought to explore issues such as migration, health, trade, business, as well as education.
"It is estimated that, today there are some 500,000 Caribbean people who are eligible to vote and who in many instances influence the outcome of many electoral districts in that their vote makes a difference as to who wins and who loses,” Earl Jarrett, general manager of Jamaica National said. “Today, Caribbean people are beginning to let their voices be heard."
Mr. Jarrett pointed out that response to the forums have been very positive, with high levels of attendance, and keen desire to examine the issues raised by participants.
He added that, “There are also matters for discussion regarding the UK’s Development Policy towards the Caribbean Region, and the UK’s support for the Caribbean in relation to crime and security.”###
Contact: Andrew Green, Corporate Communications, Jamaica National Building Society, 2-4 Constant Spring Road, Kingston 10, Tel: 510-0271; Cell: 322-1095, eMail: Andrewg@jnbs.com, February 27, 2010.