Ladies and gentlemen. Good evening. Assalamalaykum. I would like to welcome you all to the Carlton Club. I have written a book on Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his son, Maharaja Duleep Singh was a member of the Carlton Club. In my book I have included a chapter on Maharaja Duleep Singh. In fact, I presented a portrait of Maharaja Duleep Singh to the Carlton Club and this is displayed downstairs.
I would like to say that I was the first Muslim to be appointed a Peer by the Conservative Party. I joined the Party over 15 years ago as I believed that the Conservative Party reflected my own views and it was the right Party for me. I also feel that the Conservative Party is the right Party for Muslims. I would ask anyone here today who is not a member of the Conservative Party to consider becoming a member of the Party. The best way to effect a change is to do so from within and the Conservative Party is indeed a one Nation Party and everyone is welcome to join.
As we are now citizens of Great Britain, we need to consider getting involved in political activities both at local and national levels. The best way to do this is to become a member of the governing party. This is the reason why I set up the Conservative Muslim Forum about 14 years ago. The CMF was established before I was a member of the House of Lords. I was funding the Forum and was the Chairman for over 10 years. I gave up the chairmanship as I wanted to go into writing and undertake more community work. I have been elected the President of the Forum and I have been closely connected with its activities.
We held our Annual General Meeting last Friday. Faruk Miah MBE has been elected Chairman of Conservative Muslim Forum with a very large majority. Faruk was preciously the Secretary and has been a member of the Party and the Forum for over nine years. Faruk will be speaking later and he is indeed a man of vision and has a great deal of enthusiasm. He is also a man of ideas and has very good interpersonal skills. I am sure he will make a very good Chairman. All the other office bearers and members of the Executive committee have been duly elected.
The CMF is a robust body and we have members and supporters from all over the country. The membership of CMF is open to anybody, irrespective of race, religion or colour. The Executive Committee meets regularly, and the Forum does often hold meetings and events. We do have a constitution and have several objectives, but I would just like to refer to four objectives which are as follows:
- Engage with Muslims and all other communities and encourage them to support and vote for the Conservative Party.
- Undertake campaigning for the Conservative Party at elections and other times.
- Encourage Muslims to make effective and positive contributions to the development of an inclusive and cohesive society in the UK.
- Work to maintain and build bridges with all communities and religions within the UK.
CMF members play an active role across the country to support the Conservative Party whenever and wherever we can. Members of CMF were actively canvassing for the Party in different parts of the country at the general election.
Conservative Muslim Forum has a branch in Peterborough. Since 2017, Conservative Muslim Forum Peterborough has undertaken a range of activities including providing campaign support to Paul Bristow MP in the recent general election who won with 46.7 percent of the vote. I recently attended an event hosted by CMF Peterborough for Paul to congratulate him on his victory and to promote the Party in Peterborough. Paul Bristow was going to attend this event but unfortunately, he is not well and we have received a text from him that he is unable to travel to London.
We are in the process of establishing other branches of the CMF in Birmingham, Manchester and Scotland. We aim to continue achieving our objectives and support the Conservative Party at all times and undertake campaigning at general and local elections.
As we are all aware, the Conservative Party performed very well in December’s general election. The Party now holds 365 seats in the House of Commons out of a total of 650, giving the Conservatives an overall majority of 80 seats. This is a strong majority and will certainly help with pursuing the Party’s agenda. As we have now left the European Union, we need to promote trade between the UK and the rest of the world. I may add that I am actively involved in promoting more trade between the UK and overseas countries and have helped organise trade conferences in London.
I just want to briefly mention the Budget which the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, delivered on Wednesday. The Chancellor has certainly found his stride in his new role and has delivered a budget with promises level up the country and spend money in areas including: the NHS, further education, housing, research and development. I also note that there is a serious commitment to responding to Coronavirus with a £30 billion package. We need to do all we can to keep the country running as we are facing a pandemic. We need to ensure the well-being and health of the people. We need to keep the economy steady and provide help as well as support for people and also businesses. I am confident that the leadership of our Party will do so and as from today, there will be daily briefings held from Number 10.
I just want to briefly mention what the Conservative Party’s objectives are in the course of this Parliament: increase the number of nurses by 50,000; establish 40 new hospitals; there will be 20 thousand more police officers keeping people safe with more powers to tackle crime; education funding will be levelled across the country to ensure opportunity is spread equally; taxes will be cut for all working people and the National Living Wage will rise to £10.50; better infrastructure including investment in roads and railways in the North and technology will transform the country; the Prime Minister has given the go ahead for HS2 to be built and the first phase will connect London to Birmingham.
I would like to conclude by saying that the country will be safe and stable and will become more prosperous under the premiership of Boris Johnson. Finally, I would like to thank all of you for attending today’s event under some difficult circumstances. Thank you.