African, Caribbean and Asian communities will look at senior levels of British politics and ask why our talent is being ignored? Why is our expertise constantly being passed over whenever senior positions become available?
Last night, the Labour Party’s MPs voted for 19 shadow ministerial roles. Only Sadiq Khan MP, Ed Miliband’s campaign manager made the cut. Former Minister David Lammy was not selected. Leadership contender Diane Abbott was also excluded although all the other contenders excluding the self exiled David Miliband were selected.
Interestingly Diane had to fight to get on the leadership list, but once she did with by far the least amount of money, she transformed the debate. Abbott brought to the discussions great integrity and honesty that would not have been there if she hadn’t run. Her thanks from fellow MP’s was ‘no thanks’.
BME Liberal Democrats candidates don’t get a chance to be passed over for senior roles; they can’t even get selected to fight a winnable seat. And although the Conservatives made their historic breakthrough in Westminster moving from a low base of two BME MP’s to 12, the two senior MP’s and former shadow Minsters Adam Afryie MP and Shailesh Vara MP were passed over when it came to handling Ministerial roles.
Understandably, up and down the country Black voters will be dismayed. We are told ad-nauseum that it’s all about the best person for the job. Yet all these talented candidates have either done the job, or have long standing expertise for the job, and still they get ignored.
If we’re to have inclusive and representative political parties, party bosses must confront this persistent problem. The recently elcted Labour party leader Ed Miliband would do wise and keep good to his word: ‘That there must be a key role for Diane Abbot in the party’. I also think the same is true for David Lammy.
Furthermore, having blazed the trail for others to follow, the Prime Minster must recognise that both Afriyie and Vara have a leadership role to play within the party.
Yesterday’s Labour party result was a shocking reminder just how far British political parties need to go.