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BME Peers Breaking New Ground

Baroness for the people

While it’s important that we acknowledge the achievement of all the BME MPs in their election to the House of Commons, it’s also right that we acknowledge the BME peers who have been appointed to the House of Lords.

The recognition of their work and commitment should serve to inspire the next generation of high flyers and leaders.

Who are they?

Meral Hussein Ece, Chair of the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats has been selected to sit as a working peer. She is the first person of Turkish origin to hold such a position. Speaking on her recent appointment Ece stated:

“I am conscious of the historic nature of my appointment from the Turkish community, as the first ever Peer from a Turkish background, and will do whatever I can to ensure more people from Turkish-speaking, and other ethnic minority backgrounds, are encouraged to become involved in public life in the UK.”

“This is a recognition on the tremendous progress and success that the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats have made over the past few years, the hard work that has gone on to help our Party become more reflective of wider society.”

Meral was awarded an OBE in 2009 for services to local Government. Ece became a commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2009. She was the UK’s first female Councillor from the Turkish community and served for Councillor for 15 years. She was also a member of the Government and Local Communities Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Women’s Councillors Taskforce.

Simon Woolley, OBV Director said:

“Meral has always been a fantastic ambassador not just for the Turkish community, but also for minorities throughout the UK. This is an excellent appointment.”

Paul Boateng, former South African High Commissioner, and also the former MP for Brent South, will serve as a working peer on the Labour benches.

Mr. Boateng who was first elected to Parliament in 1987-the year which saw the pressure from the Labour Black Sections result in the election of Diane Abbot, and also Keith Vaz-went on to become the first black cabinet minister in 2002. Dawn Butler also former MP for Brent South later would become the first black woman to serve in a British government.

Floella Benjamin also a Lib Dem, will now sit as a working peer in the House of Lords. Benjamin was named in the dissolution list, and is known for her background in children’s television presenting, and also for being an active and outspoken campaigner for the Liberal Democrats for many years.

Nat Wei also making the honours list and is a member of Teach First’s founding team, and also a founder of Future Leaders.

Teach First is a non-profit organisation designed to bring top graduates into inner city schools as teachers. Wei is also a founder of Future Leaders, an accelerated development programme for potential head teachers of inner city schools, both of which he helped to launch.

OBV extends hearty congratulations to the new peers. They have paved the way for others to follow and will pass the baton to the next generation of future BME leaders.

By Richard Sudan

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