Election '05: Question Time - Rishi Saha, Conservative candidate for Brent South

What was your job in the sector?

I was training officer in the volunteer support and development department of Save the Children, and I advised on a training programme for 15,000 volunteers. Previously, I was with youth charity Kikass, looking after a major project called Street Teams.

Why did you decide to go into politics?

I was working in the charity sector and I could see what charities were trying to do. Although they can do a certain amount of good in their areas of specialism, it's government that has the real power to change things.

If you want to wield as much influence and do as much good as possible, politics is the place. It gives you more scope than any charity does.

Why did you choose the Conservatives?

I grew up in a really Labour area in Ealing, west London. My parents, like lots of Indian immigrants, voted Labour. When I started to develop my own politics, it became clear that ideas of personal responsibility, enterprise and personal liberty were important to me. Trying to make people's lives better isn't about the state controlling their choices, but about empowering them to make their own choices

How long have you supported them?

I only joined the party two years ago, but I've had a fairly rapid rise in the ranks. Working for a charity helped - it gave me a different story and a different outlook as a Conservative. Within a matter of months, I was the party's youngest Parliamentary candidate. I was 25 when I was selected.

What will you do for the sector if you get in?

I'm a passionate advocate of the sector - I've seen the benefits of voluntary work close up. I would look to get more people involved in the sector; too many groups feel marginalised from it. I know that ethnic minorities aren't involved enough in the mainstream charity sector. Brent South has the biggest ethnic minority population in Britian - I'd make that involvement a key priority.

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