Nick Viner has recently been appointed as the Director of Conservative Friends of Pakistan and is based at CCHQ.
Conservative Friends of Pakistan (CFoP) has a crystal clear mission statement in seeking to build a stronger, wider and deeper relationship between the Conservative Party, Pakistan and the British Pakistani community. CFoP is a working example of the progressive nature of the modern Conservative Party. Furthermore its existence shines through as evidence that the Party is clearly focussed upon winning the next General Election whilst also cementing our important relationship with Pakistan; a country that Britain values as a close partner on the world stage.
In organisational terms, with the recent appointment of Alok Sharma MP as Vice Chair of the Party with responsibility for BME communities we are sending a clear message in terms of the direction the Party is set towards. It is groups such as CFoP that are significant in making sure the Party’s message is heard and understood in those communities Conservatives have too often left untouched.
There is no getting away from the fact that we face an uphill struggle. The Conservative Party won a thoroughly underwhelming 13% of the British Pakistani vote back in 2010, with the Labour Party gaining a somewhat unsurprising 60% of the vote. CFoP exists to bridge that gap and to do that we need to re-focus on those issues that matter to the British Pakistani community. This is not going to be accomplished overnight but we are clear that through a programme of engagement and action at a local level we can truly be seen to be the Party that is naturally representative of this community. From that point it will be possible to build a national message.
Recently, at Party Conference up in Birmingham, we held an event (which is reported in full here) as well as manning an exhibition stall both of which were successful in terms of explaining our message to a wider audience and in gauging the mood towards organisations such as CFoP. Party delegates seemed to be enthused by the idea of a programme of reaching out to the British Pakistani community and we were further buoyed by the clear support from the Parliamentary Party.