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Lib – Con Cabinet Lacks Diversity

Cameron's New Cabinet

The new cabinet does not reflect Parliament. But it was never likely to, given that Parliament, while having improved it’s diversity with a 100% increase in the number of black MP’s, still does not fully reflect modern Britain.

It is no surprise given this fact, that the new cabinet has drawn criticism from equality campaigners. But is this indicative of the new coalition government, or an indictment of British politics?

In the new coalition government of the four women who have been appointed to cabinet positions, only two have been appointed to the senior ranks. The lack of black faces is more than noticeable.

Lady Warsi while making history in becoming the first female Muslim to take a cabinet role, and who has also become the Conservative party chair, is the only ethnic minority among the senior ranks.

This must improve. It is simply not fair to have certain communities excluded from government while other communities are over-represented.

If over half of the cabinet members have been privately educated it does not make sense that other sections of the Britain’s diverse population are under- represented, and under utilised when they are a valuable resource that have the potential to enrich our democracy.

The Conservatives have a real chance here to shed the ‘nasty party’ image that they have been tarnished with for so long. This will prove a challenge given that diversity within the Liberal Democrats is lacklustre to say the least.

New Labour at its conception at least could justifiably boast a real commitment to diversity. But that is not to say that the new coalition does not have the opportunity to emulate or to top this. Time will tell.

Unless diversity improves the idea that the coalition, born out of a hung parliament, represents a chance for transformational government will not sit with people for long – not least with Britain’s minority communities.

With an election that could take place within four years, the new government must begin dealing with this issue now. If they don’t they will be in real danger of allowing the Labour party, soon to have a new skipper at the helm, a real opportunity to re-brand themselves as the real alternative to the new government.

They will also be in danger of further alienating those communities which are already marginalised. Voter turnout from BME communities on polling day this year was significantly higher than in the last general election. Assuming it improves at the next election the government needs to secure BME voter’s confidence and fast if they are to remain in power.

By Richard Sudan

3 Responses

  1. Diversity in British politics is a problem across the board, not just in terms of race, but also in gender, education and in class.

    Politics is now a mainly white male middle-class profession with many MPs being educated privately and having Oxbridge degrees.

    This situation applies to all three of the main political parties.

    As for the new cabinet, bearing in mind that most of the Tories BME MPs have only just been elected to Parliament.

    I would have been amazed if a brand new MP went straight into a cabinet role. How often does that really happen?

    To have done so would have smacked of tokenism, which in the long run wouldn’t do the cause of diversity any good.

    Secondly, in the 13 years of New Labour, I don’t seem to recall many BME cabinet ministers either.

    The diversity issue is an ongoing problem, and it’s going to take a very long time for things to be sorted out.

  2. While being interviewed last night i was questioned as to why the Conservative/LibDem Cabinet was not diverse, I answered by saying that is a bit difficult as you would not expect the new new MPs to be catapult straight into Ministerial Offices as it would be a clear case of tokenism.

    Also I reminded the host that until we start to join the Conservative party and engage and stop believing that the Labour Party has some hold on black people we will keep talking about diversity nor being reflected. So i say simply ” if you want the change be the change”

  3. The fact that there is a lack of black faces in the new cabinet underlines the fact that while there has been an increase in the number of black M.P’s the pace has been slow. The ideal situation would have been to see more black faces (and women) in the new cabinet who had risen through the ranks having gained experience in ministerial roles.

    As it’s taken to so long to see an improvment in terms of diversity this could not happen this time round.

    Of course we cannot expect the numbers of black cabinet members to rise immediatley. But the fact that this natural progression-and there has been progress- has not been quick enough speaks of the fact that we need to build on the success of this election (in terms of minority turnout) and galvanise our communites into participating in the political process even more than we have done before.

    When we have a wealth of black M.P’s in parliament truely reflecting modern Britain 2010, who have time to gain experience in Parliament, and cut their political teeth then we will begin to see the number of black people in the cabinet increase.

    I refer to my initial point. The lack of diverstiy in the cabinet really reflects the lack of BME people in parliament. We cannot have a naturally inclusive cabinet without first an inclusive parliament-and we are still some way from this. There is cause for hope after this election, but further cause for a renewed effort to contiue the work of ensuring minority communities continue to play a full role in the democratic process.

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