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Passed over

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.

Simon Woolley
OBV Director

12 Responses

  1. Sorry Simon, I think you are wrong. I think of those you mention, I would say David Lammy was the only one I would want in a ministerial position. I personally wouldn’t want Abbot any where near a position of power.

    Some very able white MPs were also overlooked, Ben Bradshaw, Chris Bryant and Peter Hain, to name a few.

    By all means let’s have more BME MPs in positions of power, but we should only call for those of the highest calibre to be so. Whereas mediocre white ministers aren’t recognised by their mediocrity, we all know this is not the case for BME ministers. Party leaders know that any BME minister they appoint will face greater scrutiny.

    I do though, think that as in the case of Hain, Lammy should have been brought into the SC to counter the under representation of BMEs in the SC.

    • Jada,

      “Some very able white MPs were also overlooked, Ben Bradshaw, Chris Bryant and Peter Hain, to name a few.”

      That’s a trick they play when they have a special agenda in mind. When they keep out very able white MPs – your words not mine – it gives them a shield to protect themselves from accusations of racism. Ed Milliband will not win Labour or New Labour the next general election.

  2. I agree with the above comment. I would only support David Lammy because he has shown the most competence out of those you mentioned. For any person that has met Diane Abbot personally they would instantly know why she was over looked. As a young person in my early 20’s and of African descent I am fed up of elders pretending to represent our community to further their own personal agenda at the expense of leaving us wanting and whom are really more racist and prejudice to the African Caribbean community than anyone else. That is how Diane Abbott comes across to me. I have had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting her personally and the best way I can describe her is a woman with a Ghetto attitude with a Cambridge degree. I want to support real African Caribbean leaders who reach out to the community, try there hardest to represent our concerns, and have a pleasant attitude. This is hopefully the nail in the coffin for Diane Abbott and will hopefully lead to a new generation of politically savvy, genuine African Caribbean leaders who by there very presence, intellect and genuineness will not be able to be ignored political parties such as the Labour Party. If we keep on propping up people like Diane Abbott then we only have ourselves to blame when they make no progress and we are left with no representation.

  3. How generous -Jade and Miss A- we are.

    I don’t suppose for a second either one of you know about much less attended Diane’s London Black school awards,or perhaps her annual Black school conference?

    If you did you’d know there isn’t a politician in the country that has done more for Black children than Diane Abbott.

    I know from experience that Diane, at times, can be prickly, but so might you be if you had to fight the battles she has fought.

    Showing unity and solidarity in the face of ongoing race inequalities, is our strength.

    Regards to you both.


    • Sorry Simon, but I for one will never give automatic support to anyone purely because we share the same skin colour. If we follow the route you suggest, we will find ourselves supporting some very dubious characters, all in the name of solidarity.

    • Diane Abbott as many Black women can attest to is not the only Black woman that faces challenges daily. From the low paid cleaner to the corporate executive Black women have consistently faced battles and are still struggling in this area so I am not going to give Diane Abbott special treatment because she thinks she should be allowed to get away with her “prickly” ways. That is no excuse.

      And why would I attend her London Black school awards, or perhaps her annual Black school conference when she sent her own child to private school and is clearly trying to use these events as PR to turn around the hypocrisy of her decision to send her own child into private education. We need less conferences and more action from leaders who are willing to jump into the community, role up their sleaves and work side by side with the community to uplift it. We do not need lip service! We need a new breed of African Caribbean leaders Simon and its up to organisations like OBV to ensure that they have our best interests at heart and are actively involved in the upliftment of our community before promoting them. Elected officials are not above us but are elected to serve us, this is where Diane in my humble opinion got confused!

  4. I think this country continue to show that black people politician are in bottom of line look France, Germany, Norway, black politician are better represented in government then here in UK a country call multiracial country is more racist then so many other countries in Europe when it comes to opportunity for minority people Black people are better of in Germany or in France I just advise you to ready more about black people in this countries

  5. Jada, that’s my point. I’m arguing for Diane and David both on their merit. The whole point of the article is that our/their talent is not recognised. And therein lies an institutional failure.

    OBV would not be doing either Black politicians or our communities justice if we promoted representation on skin colour alone. After all Jada , a Black civil rights icon reminding me that ‘all our skin folk are not our kin folk’ .

    Good to engage with you.


  6. This absolute nonsense started under New Labour when Lord Boateng was ignored for a cabinet post in 1997. It seems to me that every other government and Shadow Cabinet seem to be sending out a very negative message to the world, that Black and minority ethnic citizens are not part of the United Kingdom. This cannot be right. I am thinking very strongly about having anything to do with the next general election. It is behaviour of this sort that has allowed me to arrive at this decision. The senior black and minority ethnic MPs, have got to do something about this; even if it means quiet discusions behind the scenes. The passing over of senior black and minority ethnic citizens in key decision positions is clearly unacceptable.

    I would love to know the reasons for this by way of explanations from senior members from all political parties in this country.

  7. Can I ask why there’s a picture of Adam Afriye here? Isn’t he a Tory MP?

  8. Hi Karen,

    Within the story we also highlight Conservative BME MP’s being passed over too.

    See below

    ‘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’.

  9. Ah ok….

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