Meet the Members: Emeka
It's high time we started getting to know the other people inside this movement - because after all, it belongs to us all. So in the first of our Meet the Members profiles, we're introducing you to Emeka. He's from Stoke-on-Trent originally, is currently studying at university in London, and became a Member during the crowdfund campaign. Here he is answering some questions about why he joined More United and what issues he feels most strongly about.
Have you always been interested in politics?
My interest in Politics began around my first year of sixth form college when I was 16. I took the subject at a-level and started to learn some of the basics of how democracy works in Britain. At the same time, I was volunteering at a local radio station and had the opportunity to interview the then shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, when she visited my hometown.
Over the last few years, my interest in politics has grown, and I've had the chance to volunteer on the EU Referendum Campaign and learn from both employers and mentors.
How did you initially find out about More United and what was it that first caught your interest
More United cropped up on my Twitter timeline during their initial crowdfunding campaign. A friend I'd met a few years earlier happened to be featured in the funding video and I was struck by how important MU's mission was in an era of such radical political change in Britain.
Tell us a bit about why you became a member - what parts of the movement do you think are most important?
My grandfather came to Britain from Jamaica in search of a better life. During his life, he worked hard and settled into his community. I think that people like him, who come to this country full of ambition and willing to embrace British values should be welcomed – not turned away. Whilst it might be true that the majority of people voted for Brexit, that doesn't mean we should turn our back on the world and close our minds to the kind of progressive values that have allowed us to flourish. I support More United because now, more than ever, we need a platform for progressive ideas and I want to be part of the movement that can preserve them.
Who is your political hero and why?
One of my personal political hero's is Baroness Howells of St Davids. A fierce fighter for race equality, she has dedicated her life to challenging stereotypes and ultimately, to the creation of a more equal world for people from ethnic minorities like me.
You joined us for the action day in Stoke-on-Trent Central last Saturday to campaign for Gareth Snell. Why?
Stoke-on-Trent is my hometown and if elected, Gareth would become the MP for my mum, and for many of the people I've grown up with. I think Gareth will be a great advocate both for equality and progression in the city – and his connection to the area means he's well placed to empathise with local people and local problems. In stark contrast is UKIP's Paul Nuttall, who neither shares Gareth's passion for the area, nor his commitment to stand up for minorities. Nuttall's record of dishonesty – from the declaration of 65 Oxford Street as his "home" address to his appalling false claims about losing close friends in the Hillsborough Disaster for political gain proves beyond doubt that he has no business representing the people of Stoke. I joined the campaign in Stoke because I want to stand up for the politics of unity and defeat the politics of division.
Tell us a bit about the day. What was the atmosphere like? How did people respond when you spoke to them?
Campaigning on the doorstep in Stoke-on-Trent was an eye opening experience. Many of the people I spoke to were strongly anti-UKIP and supportive of a more progressive candidate like Gareth, but there were also those who felt left behind by mainstream politics. There's a real feeling of apathy in the city, where voters often don't feel they're heard in Westminster. The new MP needs to work hard to tackle this problem, by engaging with constituents and genuinely listening to their concerns. Active engagement on social media, regular and accessible constituency surgeries, as well as relationships with local community groups, are all important – but the MP should also trial ideas at the forefront of research into democratic engagement to reach people who feel most cut-off.
What issue within current British politics is closest to your heart?
British Politics is currently faced with a wide array of challenges. Brexit is the issue of the moment with the power to capture the headlines, but I think we ought to do more work to improve the way people are represented. Whether that solution involves a new voting system, greater commitment to increasing diversity in Parliament, or a combination of different ideas, I don't know – but people from minorities who feel stereotyped and unwelcome, young people who feel let down by rising tuition fees and families in places like Stoke-on-Trent will continue to disengage from politics unless we can find a solution.