The Prime Minister, David Cameron, was in Croydon this morning to both support Gavin Barwell in his bid to be re-elected as the MP for Croydon Central and launch his vision for the future of Britain as a place of opportunity for all its diverse communities.
In front of a largely BME audience, drawn from the British African, Caribbean, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities, the Prime Minister urged voters to support Mr Barwell in the General Election on 7th May. The PM picked ot Gavin's work to secure funding for a new A&E at Croydon University Hospital, the change in the law on drug driving he promoted and getting money from the Government and Boris after the 2011 riots.
He said "I have never seen anyone more proud to represent his home town than Barwell. He grew up here, he went to school here....... you (to Gavin) love it here and your enthusiasm comes across in everything you do."
Mr Cameron went on to announce his "2020 vision", which will see 20 per cent of people in work, apprenticeships, university, the police and the armed forces being from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities by 2020, should the Conservatives be in power. He also committed the Conservatives to fielding 20% BME candidates in seats where the incumbent Conservative MP is retiring, up from 18% this time.
He also said he wants to see 20,000 more people from diverse backgrounds setting up their own start-up businesses in the next five years.
In a speech which focused on opportunity, he said "No matter who you are or where you're from, I want to know you can make the most of your talents."
Mr Cameron said education was key to helping people from all backgrounds each the top and singled out Croydon's Oasis Shirley Park and Harris Academy South Norwood schools for particular praise, for their success in raising aspiration amongst their BME pupils.
You can see the speech in full here.
After his well received speech the PM went on to meet with BME community leaders and the Conservative candidates for Croydon South (Chris Philp) and Croydon North (Vidhi Mohan). He then met with the Groves family, to whom he was introduced by Gavin Barwell in the aftermath of the tragic death of Lilian Groves, who was knocked down outside her home in New Addington by a driver under the influence of drugs.
As a result of Gavin's work with the PM and the Groves family, the law on driving under the influence of substances has been toughened up to try to prevent a similar tragedies occurring to other families.
Gary and Natasha Groves, Lilian's parents, said “On the 26th June 2010 our lives were ripped apart when our 14 year-old daughter was hit by a drug driver outside our family home. Without the support and hard work from Gavin, we would not have been able to change the law to stop this from happening to someone else. For us Gavin is a miracle worker. We have no question as to where our vote will be going.”