The recent General Election has provided a notable boost to Black and minority representation in the House of Commons with the election of 27 BME MPs.
Sorely lacking in the House is the voice of our communities via the Liberal Democrat party. The party now look set to address this deficit with a new motion, which if passed at conference, will act as a catalyst to increasing BME representation.
Councillor Lester Holloway has submitted the following motion due to be voted on at the coming party conference in Liverpool:
Conference therefore agrees that with regard to BAME candidates:
a) Reserved places, like the one London Region has in place for the GLA list, should be extended to other multi-member Assembly, MEP and Council selections;
b) State Candidates Committees set the appropriate proportion of reserved places for each region in line with the latest available Office of National Statistics data;
c) At least one BAME member should be included on the shortlist whenever a sitting Liberal Democrat MP retires or resigns, and in any Parliamentary by-elections;
d) At least one BAME member should be on the shortlists for Westminster constituencies where the Liberal Democrats require a swing of five percent, or less, to win the seat.
e) The Federal Executive should strengthen the Party’s policies and process to positive action around recruitment, retention and promotion of BAME talent; set targets for BAME representation in line with national and regional Office of National Statistics data; and decide on outcomes within agreed timescales;
f) The party makes sufficient resources available for the effective recruitment, retention, promotion, training, mentoring of BAME candidates;
g) Liberal Democrats support enabling legislation for all-BAME shortlists, and introduce the measure in at least two top target seats.
The motion has been followed by a thought provoking piece on the grassroots site Liberal Democrat Voice by Councillor Duwayne Brooks (recently touted as a potential LibDem Mayoral candidate on the BBC). High profile BME members such as Baroness Ece and Cllr Rabi Martins have joined the discussion about how to move things forward in terms of BME representation in the party.
This concerted effort to spark a debate and make sustainable changes in representation indicates a depth of feeling that is now coming to fruition; that the party should look like the country it seeks to serve.
I encourage the Lib Dems to embrace this change if they are to be a party reflective of modern Britain.
By Leon Green