by RITA CHADHA
It has become common practice for the migration sector to look to elections as ‘game changer’ moments that can press reset on an otherwise toxic debate – especially true of national elections and Brexit.
However, when it comes to local elections, the sector often remains far more muted, believing that its scrutiny of local politicians should be largely left to calling out racist and defamatory campaigning, and occasionally holding hustings.
As a sector, we rarely look at the local implications of elections, although this is where most change is to be found. Locality (especially in this era of ‘place-making’) is hugely important in shaping how people feel about their neighbour and how they participate – and dare we say, ‘integrate’ – in civic life.
Yet as migrants’ organisations, our understanding of local government is limited to an understanding of obstructive social workers and housing officers. We need to challenge our own thinking and approach to how we engage with local politicians, because ultimately it is through their ambitions, connections and links with national politicians that we may enable more change to take place.
MRN will be establishing a special working group to look at the relationship between local government and migrant communities… for more information and to register your interest, email Rita Chadha ([email protected])