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The time and place for an all-BAME shortlist is now in Edmonton

BAME Labour LogoIn the last few days, Andy Love has announced that after 18 years as an MP, he will not be standing again in Edmonton. It is a very diverse north London constituency with a majority of almost 10,000 or about 24%, with a wide range of ethnic minorities comprising 73% of the population. Labour has an opportunity to make sure its candidate reflects that diversity. If ever there was a time and place for an all-BAME shortlist, it is now in Edmonton.

London is the most multicultural city in Europe and on the whole, as was evident during the Olympics, it is more than comfortable with its diversity. Political parties, however, don’t see fit to respond to this comfort by ensuring  that its political representatives reflect this diversity.

Take British Asians, for example — 18.4% of London’s population according to the 2011 Census (figures exclude “mixed race”) but Labour’s 38 London MPs include only four (Rushanara Ali, Sadiq Khan, Seema Malhotra and Virendra Sharma) or 10.5%. Tulip Siddiq will slightly increase that to 13.2% having been selected to replace Glenda Jackson. And even with Rupa Huq in Ealing Central & Acton and Uma Kamaran, British Asians are likely to stay under-represented, even in London.

But the representation of British Afro-Caribbeans in London is significantly worse — 13.3% of the population but Diane Abbott and David Lammy are just 5.3% of London MPs; and even with Dawn Butler in Brent, the proportion would be woefully inadequate.

It so happens that census figures show that 27% of Edmonton’s population are black, 13% of Asian backgrounds and 6% mixed race. On top of that there are large Cypriot communities. Ideally should have a black candidate, but the case for an all-BAME shortlist in this constituency is overwhelming. I’d hope that the constituency party would at least be sympathetic to the idea – not that the shortlist is in the hands of the CLP.

Coming so close to the election, the party’s national executive has given special powers over selections to a panel of its members, including the power to approve a shortlist. At a national level, Labour may be doing better than other parties but it still has only 16 MPs from a BAME background, which is 6% of the parliamentary party compared with 14% of the population. Only last month, detailed polling showed that Indian, Caribbean and African voters are abandoning Labour. Based on its desire to reflect the diversity of modern Britain and its responsibility to the people of Edmonton, the NEC’s panel should use those powers to make sure Labour fields a BAME candidate.

This is exactly what the Chair of BAME Labour, Kamaljeet Jandu, yesterday urged Edmonton constituency party and the national executive to do, in order “to address the chronic under-representation of Britain’s BAME communities in elected office.” It wouldn’t be the first time Labour’s executive had used its powers to pick an all-BAME shortlist. As BAME Labour point out, it did so for the selection of Brent South’s Parliamentary Candidate in 2005. There is also strong support for such a move from affiliated trade unions. And both Sadiq Khan and David Lammy ave recently come out in favour of all-BAME shortlists.

There are a number of well qualified BAME candidates considering putting themselves forward for the selection including longtime former councillor and Unite executive member, Kingsley Abrams, Labour party fundraiser and restaurateur of Kurdish extraction, Ibrahim Dogus who is behind the ‘British Kebab Awards’ and director of the Centre for Turkey Studies and Development, Labour national executive  member, Kate Osamor, who lives in neighbouring Tottenham, Haringey councillor Joseph Ejiofor, to name but four.

Other names mentioned include London Assembly member and former Enfield councillor, Joanne McCartney,  and ex-Hackney Councillor and Labour national executive  member, Luke Akehurst, but now is surely a time when the importance of addressing the under-representation of Britain’s BAME communities should take priority over the carers of full-time politicians and lobbyists, however talented they may be.

 

18 Comments

  1. James Martin says:

    Hmm. Well I wonder then, given that these days the majority Labour MP’s appear to be middle class careerist politicos who have never done a proper job in their lives, whether we can also have some all working-class shortlists just to redress the balance? Or is that a bit of identity politics too far for some?

    1. Rod says:

      The problem is that working-class, Oxbridge-educated Progress/Labour Party supporters are as rare as hen’s teeth.

      If they did exist they would almost certainly already be included on shortlists.

  2. swatantra says:

    Agree. A working class local Edmontonian would be the ideal candidate.

  3. swatantra says:

    … and from the BAME community.

    1. John reid says:

      All women short lists introduced 20 years ago are great ,All Black female shortlist introduced for the londons assembly seats 10 years ago are great, the Labour Party is the party of the working class, Jack Drimey won a AWS and Certain feminists, Germain Greer, (who isn’t a Labour Party supporter for 20 years anyway) and julie Bindel ,have argued that post op, Transgenders aren’t still women, yet we’ve had Transexuals on AWS, not that I’m suggesting a man who wanted to get in A AWS would grow their hair wear a dress, call themselves a female name, proclaim they’re female and be able to get on a AWS.

      Aren’t local candidates who’ve lived in the area for several years the best, with life experience, there are certain areas in outer Essex, where im sorry but I don’t think that many BAME people lived 30 years ago, so by the time they’re 40 and ready to stand theyre. No familiar with the area ,

      There’s not many middle class BAME people although some exist Chuka Ammuna, Oona king, and what of people go pretend to be Woking a Class Emily Thornberry,Tony Benn.

      1. swatantra says:

        … and what about transvestites, like Eddie Izzard on the list? Would Jack Dromey have qualified, I wonder? But certainly Regional Office and National Office are right to impose AWS on recalitrant local Parties.
        Agree that local is best, and particularly those that have served their community as local councillors, but I’d also like to set an age limit, that you do your time as a human being first before even considering going into Parliament or the l;ocal Council, like 30-ish.

        1. John reid says:

          As a matter of interest, how long have you lived in outer M25 Essex?

        2. John reid says:

          I know Asian families in a thurrock voting ukip(their target ward ) and gay people same as Clacton,
          remember when AWS were used in Bevan/Foots old seat in Wales in 97 a former male labour MP stood as an independent and won, due to more him being local than objecting to all female shortlists, constituencies have to nominate one female and another for the mayor next time suppose AllbAME AWS were used to impose Oona King rather than Ken in 2012
          It’s like canvassing for another person outside the party (some of our members in a Scottish seat where labour was so far behind the tories un 3rd place in 1997 that they canvassed for the Libdems got themselves expelled And militant broke the rules, doing the same .

        3. swatantra says:

          40 yrs; thats probably longer than you were born.

  4. Chris says:

    It seems illiberal to me to bar people from the shortlist on ethnic grounds. Not to mention for the central party to impose its will on CLPS. I thought the left opposed that?

    1. James Martin says:

      Some of us do Chris, but the liberal identity politics nonsense is unfortunately in fashion, particularly in that there London. But hey, if a black, muslim, gay disabled woman is also a working class socialist then who am I to argue against selecting such a wonderful equality tick box 😉

  5. Barry Ewart says:

    Yes we need more working class candidates. I have argued we should have at least 2 working class candidates on every Parliamentary shortlist (based on occupation parent/parents). Hate to be contreversial but perhaps they should select the best socialist!

    1. swatantra says:

      … is that the Rooney Rule?
      If it works in Football, then it’ll work in Labour.
      The problem is that the Party has become institutionalised over the last 50 years, and very few people are aware of it… or even concerned by it.

  6. Barry Ewart says:

    We could look at constituencies by demographics so a constituency like this should have at least 2 out of 6 candidates from BME, 2 from social classes Lower 3-6 (by occupation of parent/s) and at least 50% should be female. Then from these 6 pick the best socialist by listening to their ideas.

    1. John reid says:

      Hypothetically 30 years ago, 6 people go for a seat

      o.K Oona King, Chuka Ammuna, Ann Cryer,Harriet Harman Stand

      That’s 2 BAME 3 Female, and 3 Middle Class, and Ann Cryer one working Class,
      Then the other two could be working class white and could be male males, so Emily Thornberry and Tony Benn stand pretends to be working class , unless Jack dromey won a AWS ,they’d have to have a local candidate, who would be the best

  7. John reid says:

    There were certain rules within the labour parties Constituon, Being a member of a Certain Unions that were affilaited that, funded other parties were expelled.
    Militant having their meetings that others couldn’t attend where they discussed using their block votes later on to oust sitting mPS to get members in, and Falkirk, shows that not much has changed, Of course those who broke the rules,that union had their rep, a party organiser to get their choice in. Also used locally to inlfunce the the votes of the party at conference,
    When their members Broke The rule book on the constitution to work out, the way that votes could be Used to get their way block votes in local to get members to get the
    Break the rules, search,same as the london mayoral choice in 2000, and Wales Assembly and Turning a blind eye to vote scandal for decades..
    Or as away to get Katy Clark off the rep table At conference and decide policy rules
    Or where unions Or organisations Affiliated help fund the party could pick policies the and decide the situation

  8. peter willsman says:

    At our EC on Sat., CLPD agreed that it would draft a rule change to circulate to CLPs(for submission to Annual Confce.) that would provide for all-BAME shortlists.

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