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Once in a lifetime chance to boost Black MPs

patrick-vernonPressure on Labour to adopt new positive action measures to boost the number of Black MP’s has intensified with an article on the website of an influential Labour-supporting think-tank

Patrick Vernon, a prominent local councillor from Hackney, north-east London, and an aspiring general election candidate, writes on the Progress website that this may be the “last chance” to address the historical inequalities of women and BAME representation in parliament.

The rumoured mass resignations of sitting MPs between now and the general election offers a golden opportunity to improve diversity on the Labour benches.

He writes: “We may not get a chance again for possibly a decade to address the historical inequalities and structural barriers of women and BAME representation in parliament. The party needs to make a radical approach in supporting and sustaining a new breed of candidates based on activism, experience and knowledge and of the key issues that the party needs to lead in if we want a fourth term.”

Vernon argues that all-BAME shortlists will help reach a target of 56 BAME MPs in the Commons, the figure that needs to be reached for law-makers to accurately reflect the society it seeks to serve.

Vernon’s approach echoes the stance taken by non-partizan organisation Operation Black Vote, who produced a report for equalities minister Harriet Harman on how all-BAME shortlists could work in practice.

Last week we reported that Prime Minister Gordon Brown had promised a half-way house by backing shortlists with “a majority” of BAME hopefuls in “relevant constituencies.”

But if the Progress article is anything to go by, it appears that Labour activists may not be satisfied with that. Some party members are already asking why all-women shortlists are acceptable but not all-BAME lists.

This is not the last we will hear on this subject…

By Lester Holloway

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