Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Black and minority ethnic parliamentary representation

This BBC Wales News report refers. I was pleased to see that from the figures displayed in the TV presentation that Welsh Liberal Democrats have as many BME candidates in the upcoming general election as the other parties put together. However, we are not able to take the extra step that some activists demand, that BME candidates are planted in safe seats for the simple reason that there have never been any Liberal Democrat safe seats.

We have the same problem in the English parliament, but at least we have been able to recruit some distinguished non-pink-and-male peers who have made outstanding contributions to the House of Lords. I am thinking in particular of Navnit Dholakia, Kishwer Falkner and Floella Benjamin.

Visible rôle models are surely the way forward. I have had my disagreements with Vaughan Gething, but I have to admit that he has been an excellent example to those who have hitherto been put off by perceived racial discrimination in politics generally and the Labour Party in particular. Sadly, the converse is also true and one bad performance by a BME minister, like that by Tory constitution minister Sam Gyimah for the Conservatives in Hackney last night sets back the cause where a similar débâcle by a white minister would be passed over - unless that minister was a woman, of course.

Peter Black makes a good point about the way a fair voting system can help.

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