by Atul Hatwal
It’s not been a good twenty-four hours for Labour on diversity.
First, there was the ludicrous attack on the appointment of Sajid Javid to the equalities brief because he was a man, totally ignoring the fact he is the first British Asian to become a secretary of state as well as being someone who comes from a genuinely working class background.
Then there was the attack on him for having the temerity to be successful , so acutely dissected by Dan Hodges over at the Telegraph.
Now Uncut can reveal that Labour is failing on ethnic minority representation.
An analysis of selections in Labour’s 106 parliamentary target seats, and the 12 seats where current Labour MPs are standing down reveals that the party has managed to select just 13 candidates from minority backgrounds out of a total of 118 contests.
This means just 11% of Labour’s candidates in winnable seats will be from black and minority ethnic communities, compared to an ethnic minority population in the UK of 18% at the time of the 2011 census.
By the time of the next election, as the UK’s minority population approaches 20%, Labour’s best case scenario in the new intake will be non-white representation of just over 10%.
This is in stark contrast to the party’s performance in selecting women where shortlists have helped guarantee that 50% of all winnable seats will have female candidates.
Labour’s immediate response yesterday to Sajid Javid’s appointment was to complain that he wasn’t a woman. This mindset, where women seem to be considered more equal than ethnic minorities, clearly extends through the party into local selections.
Its a sad testament to the poverty of minority representation in the parliamentary Labour party that such a poor performance in selecting new candidates is still better than the current position where just 6% of the PLP is from a minority.
How the party addresses this abject failing is difficult: quotas are rife with problems, not least their political manipulation by those in control of which seats are designated as an exclusive short list.
However, what is undeniable is that Labour has a major problem.
Perhaps a little more attention to the party’s own record on minority representation and less flailing about to attack Sajid Javid is in order.
Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut