If Ed Miliband can’t even get his own black MPs and peers to show up at a ‘diversity dinner’ where he is the guest of honour, he is in deep, deep trouble. You can read the rest of the article on the voice newspaper website here.
Ed Miliband has the right to feel smug about gender representation within the Labour party, at least when compared to the others, but he doesn’t when it comes to race. As one senior member in the party (of Asian origin) told me recently, “there is a deafening silence within the party” on the issue. You can read the rest of the article on Labourlist here.
The debate spawned by Sunny Hundal’s article on LabourList today is long overdue. Labour’s efforts on ethnic minority representation have been well-meaning and far more successful than those of the other major parties. You can read the rest of the article on left foot forward by clicking here.
Labour was the first government to introduce race relations and equalities legislation to tackle racism, sexism, disability and homophobia in housing, classroom, sports field, boardroom, shop floor, media and operating theatre.
Labour activists promoted positive action and equal opportunities monitoring in the 1980s in the face of derision and contempt from government and media.
Great strides have been made in the last 60 years in celebrating difference and acknowledging the mutuality around respect and tolerance role models have provided the equality of opportunity for the X and Y generation.
As a nation we benefited from this social revolution as a modern success for Britain as a dynamic multi-ethnic, secular and inclusive society.
We still have a long way to achieve the equality that we all deserve. However with Labour we have a chance since this is part of our values and DNA.
You can read the full article on the Voice news paper website here.
The recently-formed Labour Black Network (LBN) has made submissions to party chiefs, highlighting the study and proposing a set of recommendations.
According to the One Nation Labour, Black Representation Across The Party report, referred to by Guardian journalist Hugh Muir as a “sad” document, there would have to be 36 black MPs for parliament to be representative of the black British population.
You can read the full article on the Voice newspaper website here.
Labour, out of all the political parties, also has the most Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) MPs, demonstrating its commitment to reflecting the population that it serves, strengthening parliament’s democratic legitimacy. In 1987, Labour led the way by selecting the first three persons of African- Caribbean descent who were subsequently elected to parliament, Diane Abbott, Bernie Grant and Paul Boateng. Progress has stagnated since that time, however, and over a quarter of a century later the numbers of MPs from African-Caribbean descent within the party has only increased to five. In the European parliament, there is not a single female MEP of African-Caribbean descent in any of the political groups.
You can read the full article on the Fabian society review here
On Christmas Eve the Labour Black Network made a submission to
The Labour Party Collin’s Review making a number of recommendations, which included supporting primaries.
The Labour Black Network aims to support Labour Party members
who are African and Caribbean descent and heritage as well as advocating the case for greater representation in all elected positions and roles.
The submission shows that the Black British population is 5.5 %
(3.1 million) and if parliament reflected the diversity of the population there
would be 36 Black MPs. There are currently only eight Black MPs (five Labour). At present only two additional Black candidates have been selected to stand for 106 Labour target seats in 2015.
In 1987 Diane Abbott was one of the three Black Labour MP’s to
get elected for the first time, now in 2014, there are only five Black Labour
MPs. In her foreward for the submission she said:
“… if you had told me that, twenty six years later, the numbers
of African and Afro-Caribbean Labour Members of Parliament would scarcely be any greater, I would have been shocked. We thought that we were opening a door, through which many others would flood through. But in 2013 there are exactly three male African and Afro-Caribbean Labour Members of Parliament”
The submission focused on three areas where Black candidates face barriers financial, obstruction, and bullying. The recommendations include a call for all BAME shortlists, a complaints process and spending caps on selection. Also Primaries in areas with a high Black population and where the local party does not reflect diversity of the community.
LBN advocate for a closed primary system. Voting in a closed primary would be restricted to Labour supporters. Members could still have the responsibility of selecting the shortlist which would then be opened up to a vote by registered supporters of the Labour party. Not only would this help to involve a wider group of local people in the selection of their Labour candidate, it could also help to increase Labour membership.
Many Black Candidates believe that if participation in selections was opened up to a wider range of people in the community, candidates from a wider range of backgrounds would get selected. I personally also believe that a community would not be overly impressed with someone that had only worked in politics and devoted all their spare time as a Labour activist. The community’s definition of what makes a strong candidate might be “someone you can have a drink with”, “someone that understands how hard things are” or “someone that’s involved in the community“. That definition might select more women, working class and BAME
The French Socialist process offers an interesting model for determining who to involve in party selection processes. One objection to primaries is that they are vulnerable to be over taken by opponents of the party, who could use their voting rights to back a candidate with no Labour values. The French Socialist approach was to require those wishing to participate to sign a declaration that they support the “values of the left”.
Those wishing to participate had to make a contribution of at least €1. This fee raised a total of €3.5 million, enabling the French Socialists to more than cover the considerable costs of the nationwide exercise. The high costs of primaries are one reason why British parties have used them sparingly so far. A user fee would be one way to overcome this problem
that did not make recourse to public funds.
For Local CLP’s and London Mayor selection, Primaries could open up the selection process to community and open the door for candidates from a wider range of backgrounds.