Posts Tagged ‘representation’

No, no, Yvette

01/07/2015, 06:10:20 PM

by Rob Marchant

Yes, leadership candidates need to appeal to party before they can become leader and do anything at all.  But the lengths to which some will go to tickle the tummy of a party, which has just suffered two disastrous election defeats, continues to beggar belief.

Better – for the sake of kindness – to gloss over Andy Burnham’s statement that this was “the best manifesto that I have stood on in four general elections”. I mean, what can have possessed him?

To be fair, it is difficult to see it, as some have, as an attempt to lay the blame for the party’s recent meltdown squarely at the door of Ed Miliband. That would be especially difficult, with Burnham’s area of the NHS front and centre in the campaign; and also given that he followed it immediately with the words “I pay tribute to Ed Miliband”.

Which leaves us with one of two far worse conclusions: either that it was convenient lip-service; or that he simultaneously believed Labour had both the right candidate and the right manifesto, and still lost catastrophically. A level of cognitive dissonance verging on the Orwellian.

But just as we thought there could be no dafter statements from the mainstream candidates (after all, daft statements from Jeremy Corbyn are to be expected), up pops Yvette Cooper, asking for Labour to double the number of ethnic minority (BAME) MPs if the party were to win a majority.

A laudable aim, on the face of it. Except when you stop to think about what it actually means.

First, look at the logic: “More than 15% of Labour voters are from BAME communities but just 10% of Labour MPs.” Note that we do not talk about Britain as a whole, just Labour voters (clearly we do not aspire to encourage people who do not yet vote Labour). According to Wikipedia, only 13% of Britons are from ethnic minorities (11% if you exclude those of mixed race). Do we honestly think that there are folk out there saying, “Cuh! That Labour party. They’ve cheated us out of three per cent! It’s an outrage! We demand the exact same percentage and nothing less!”

(more…)

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Prime Minister Miliband’s first U-turn: scrapping gender equality around the cabinet table

20/04/2015, 06:48:36 PM

Any coalition deal with the other parties that involves sharing cabinet positions, will inevitably mean the percentage of women sat around Labour’s top table will get smaller.

This is not due to backsliding on Ed Miliband’s part. Far from it. He promised during the Labour leadership contest – and has consistently repeated it since then – that he will deliver 50:50 gender equality around the cabinet table (and has more or less done so with his current shadow team).

It is simply that the stock of female ministers from the other potential coalition partners is extremely low. And despite watery protestations to the contrary, all the current polls indicate that Miliband will need either the SNP or the Lib Dems to join his administration in order to form a stable working majority in the Commons.

Only one of the SNP’s six MPs in the last parliament was female and, although led by a woman, just 36 per cent of their parliamentary candidates are women. (And given Nicola Sturgeon is rather preoccupied serving as Scotland’s First Minister, she would not, presumably, be available herself?)

Similarly, just seven of the Lib Dems’ 57 MPs in the last parliament were women and five of them are likely to lose their seats (although, to be fair, it’s perfectly possible this number will be replenished with newcomers).

But from day one of the next government, there will be precious few women MPs from among either the Lib Dems or SNP experienced enough in frontline politics to be considered for cabinet positions.

The only choice open to Miliband, if he’s serious about honouring his pledge, is to appoint a greater number of Labour women to meet the shortfall. This, in turn, means appointing fewer men who currently sit in the shadow cabinet.

The in-tray of an incoming prime minister is deep enough without creating that kind of explosive row and in the process generating an officer-class of senior, overlooked men who have slogged away on the frontbench for years only to have their careers ripped away from them.

No, look instead for Miliband to pepper the junior and middle ministerial ranks with women as cover for the Labour-led government’s first U-turn.

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As Labour attacks Sajid Javid’s appointment, new figures reveal how the party is failing on ethnic minority representation

10/04/2014, 02:37:01 PM

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

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