engage magazine issue 004 \'07 - Page 43

PROFILES 43 Politicians in Waiting The political process is high on the agenda. Engage magazine spoke to three politicians in waiting and sought their views on the key challenges which currently face BAME businesses. Budding parliamentarian Sylbourne Sydial was among 21 new BAME recruits enlisted last year for the Operation Black Vote (OBV) MP Shadowing Scheme. He shadowed Peter Bottomley MP (Worthing West) and Andrew Pelling MP (Central Croydon). Sylbourne is a Conservative Party member of Dulwich and West Norwood constituency and Lewisham East constituency. Sylbourne is hoping to become the first Jamaican born British MP, but first he needs to be selected as a Conservative candidate; Engage caught up with him on the campaign trail. A former General Secretary of the UK arm of People’s National Party (PNP) in Jamaica Sylbourne came to the UK in 1992 with an in depth experience and understanding of the political process. Sylbourne wanted to find a way to contribute to Jamaica while studying here. Like many before him, the plan was to stay three to five years and then go back. However, as time went on he realised that he wanted to make a contribution to political life here in the UK. Although it is often assumed that the Labour Party is the natural home for BAME voters, Sylbourne did his research and discovered that the Conservative Party was the place for him: “I came with an open, objective mind. I realised that the values I hold are the same (as those within the Conservative party). For example, in Jamaica there is no social welfare as such – the family forms the bedrock of society” Sylbourne feels strongly that the challenges he has faced are in fact hurdles, which once overcome, have made him a stronger person. These challenges have included, getting known within the party and engaging with the whole community – letting people know that you are not dealing solely with BAME issues. It is also a challenge to get on the parliamentary list, which can be a long and painstaking process. The shadowing project that Operation Black Vote (OBV) presented was an ideal way to overcome both these challenges as it gave Sylbourne direct access to Conservative Central Office. The experience also provided him with the opportunity to be mentored by, and form key associations with, people such as Dominic Grieve MP– Shadow Attorney General, Peter Bottomley MP and Andrew Pelling MP and London Assembly Member. Unusually perhaps, for a Conservative, Sylbourne talks of revolution. Indeed he foresees that in order to move forward we need a ‘social responsibility’ revolution. This is in line with the statements of the Conservative Party Leader, David Cameron, who has made social responsibility a central pillar of his agenda. Sylbourne expands on this, talking about where BAME businesses taking responsibility for themselves and the growth of their business by rekindling and developing the entrepreneurial spirit. We also need a ‘working together’ revolution where BAME business comes together and trusts each other through working in partnership thus leading to the combined power of the BAME pound. Sylbourne is passionate about laying solid foundations, getting to know and understand his community and constituents – with an aim to inspire younger people and those who have apathy towards voting to use their vote. He firmly believes that “what the black community needs is effective voices that will stand on the political platform”. Sylbourne Sydial has demonstrated that he is on his way to being an effective voice. Photo: Hannah Edy ISSUE FOUR 2007 engage | uk