It was a real pleasure to be asked to compere the annual British Tamil Conservative reception at Party Conference this year. After hosting the event in 2019, the circumstances this year were somewhat different: hundreds watching on Zoom instead of being packed into a buzzing room in Birmingham or Manchester.
We usually gather to celebrate not only the work of the BTC, but more importantly to thank them for everything they do. Year-in and year-out they work tirelessly to ensure we elect as many Conservatives as possible up and down the country as well as fighting for the causes that matter to their community.
The BTC have grown from strength to strength. Despite lockdown the have continued their advocacy work for justice in Sri Lanka. All this has helped their membership by 30% this year alone. A huge achievement in very challenging circumstances.
We had a customary fantastic line-up of speakers and well-wishers. Experienced Members of Parliament; Members of the House of Lords; committed Ministers and Secretaries of State – there are few events at conference where so many much-sought-after speakers are in one place at one time:
- Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow and Chair of the Education Select Committee
- James Cleverly. MP for Braintree and Minister of State of the Middle East and North Africa
- Gillian Keegan, MP for Chichester and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills
- Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
- Joy Morrissey, MP for Beaconsfield
- Chris Grayling, MP for Epsom and Ewell
- Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe
- Robert Buckland. MP for South Swindon, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor
- Keith Prince, London Assembly Member
- Jackie Doyle Price, MP for Thurrock
- Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Dean Russell, MP for Watford
- Elliott Coburn, MP for Carshalton and Walling, Chair of the APPG for Tamils
- Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East
- Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet
- Paul Scully, MP for Sutton and Cheam, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets
- Shaun Bailey, London Assembly Member and Conservative Candidate for Mayor of London
- Lord Goldsmith
- Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Maling, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee
- Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford
I owe my own thanks to the BTC team. I was one of our Parliamentary Candidates in the General Election last year, and whilst I was sadly not successful, the assistance the British Tamil Conservatives gave to me was truly appreciated. Whether supporting with fundraising, contacting electors, deliveries or knocking on doors – I always knew I could rely on the BTC team.
The event has subsequently been broadcast on IBC Tamil and also the Tamil Guardian's YouTube channel: