The Cypriot community is effectively a bystander in British politics, when other ethnic communities are doubling numbers in Parliament and across British politics. This general election saw a record number of (British Minority Ethnic) BME politicians elected to Parliament, with eight new BME MPs coming from Labour, seven from the Conservatives, and one SNP. Ten new BME female MPs have been returned to the House of Commons. None of them Cypriots. The number BME MP’s is up to 41 from 25 in 2010.
According to John Kaponi National (pictured above) Chairman of ‘Future Cyprus’, an organisation aiming to promote Cypriots in British public life, “It’s now time the UK Cypriot community started to look at itself very closely and understand that without political muscle the “Cypriot community” will not be able to protect its interests and issues. We therefore call on Cypriot associations and organisations to sign up to be members of British political parties and participate in local and national British politics.”
The General election results saw the return to Parliament by some of the Cypriot community strongest friends; but at the same time failed to bring back people like Nick De Bois, a tireless supporter of the Cypriots in London. Cyprus Future played an active role across London and the South East of England encouraging as many Cypriots to vote in the general election. Some of the efforts worked, but on the whole the community did not play the role it should have at these very important elections.
The biggest problem that Cyprus Future has identified, and this applies to all political parties, is the lack of Cypriots affiliated to British political parties. This has unfortunately meant that very few, if any Cypriots are active politically at local, national and European levels, which directly affects the influence the community has in British politics. It is a known fact that some of the older generation of British Cypriots are members of political parties from Cyprus instead of British political parties.
An example of the lack of involvement in “main-stream” politics was seen starkly at the canvassing, leafleting, phone calling, emailing, talking to residents on the doorstep and manning stalls sessions of all the main parties in London. With a handful of Cypriots out knocking doors, our “friends” who looked during the campaign to see who their friends are, were clearly disappointed by the same old faces turning up. More must be done to encourage more Cypriots to be actively involved in British politics.
John Kaponi said, “What is more worrying is that with elections now expected in 2016 for the London Mayoralty and London Assembly, the EU referendum in 2017, “the Cypriot community” must play its role and should be looking to be players, and not spectators which is what we will be, bystanders in the democratic process. Does the community feel comfortable with the fact that the Cypriots do not have any representatives in the House of Commons, no representatives in the House of Lords, no representatives in the European Parliament or the London Assembly? How long can this continue?”