Opposing all-black shortlists


by Sunny
22nd February, 2008 at 8:48 am    

This was also sent to me yesterday:

In a speech tonight Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg will pledge to make the Liberal Democrats more representative of modern Britain.

Nick Clegg will be speaking in Manchester at an event to raise money to fund Liberal Democrat campaigns against the British National Party and other far right parties. In his first major speech on diversity since becoming Leader of the Liberal Democrats in December, Nick Clegg made four specific commitments:

· Liberal Democrats will increase fundraising to increase diversity
· To establish a Liberal Democrat Academy to provide training for future national and community leaders
· Support moves to permit political parties to legally choose all black and minority ethnic shortlists for candidate selections
· Increase the diversity of the senior leadership of the Party

After some discussion about this, I’ve decided to oppose the idea of changing the law so political parties can force the candidate short-list for a seat (for parliament) to only have brown / black people listed. The idea is to ensure more black and brown people get into politics but I think it will backfire hugely. It’s officially a bad idea. The Libdems need to make their party more representative, but all minority shortlists are not the way.

I’ll say more on this soon, but happy to hear reader’s thoughts. I might write something for the Libdem websites about this too.


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Filed in: Party politics,Race politics






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  1. ac — on 22nd February, 2008 at 9:16 am  

    OK, I admit to being white but I am strongly against this idea because of the issue of definition (eg it is fairly easy to decide who is a man and who is a woman but who is black or minority ethnic? After all Tony Blair could claim to be second generation Irish).

    Then there is just the fact that the idea will be liking poking the snake of working class inate racism with a stick: as soon as there is a bit of controversy about where an all-Black or all-BME shortlist is opposed it will become a carnival for racists. And the only losers will be black wannabe-MPs.

    All that said, I think there is a real crisis in black representation – especially black women (Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler ffs!). I’m not sure what to do about it, but I am certain that all-black or all-bme shortlists would be a major league disaster.

  2. Letters From A Tory — on 22nd February, 2008 at 9:43 am  

    Increasing fundraising for increasing diversity sounds fine.

    All black and minority ethnic shortlists are racist and discriminatory and represent one of the must anti-liberal policies I have seen in years.

    Clegg should be ashamed.

    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  3. Dolores — on 22nd February, 2008 at 11:18 am  

    I am a LibDem and agree absolutely that all-black shortlists would be illiberal, unworkable, discrimatory and would backfire. Shortlists should consist of the best applicants, whatever their ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, etc.

    The way to increase selection of BME candidates is by ensuring that there is no discrimination in selection procedures. It is unlikely these days that selection panels would openly discriminate on racial grounds but there may well be indirect forms of discrimination, and a belief that BME candidates are not “electable”, which is increasingly not the case.

  4. sonia — on 22nd February, 2008 at 11:58 am  

    Well said Sunny. This would be a bad move, and i agree with you is not the way to achieve more ‘diversity’ anyway.

    There needs to be a lot of work done to understand access and opportunities – and it also should be obvious – that diversity – is not limited to skin colour. social exclusion is certainly not limited to skin colour. Neither should skin colour take precedence as “no. 1 handicap” – understanding social exclusion should be far less about privileging ‘victim’ status for some concrete ‘factor’ and quantifying it per se – (and thereby encouraging ‘competition’ amongst those experiencing some form of social exclusion) it is far more nuanced and complex, and should be recognised as such. thinking otherwise is contributing to the problem.

    Also it isn’t a binary – like ‘are you socially excluded’ yes or no – and that you will be that way forever.

    Someone who happens to have brown skin but has been to LSE / Oxbridge etc., for example..doesn’t necessarily find it any harder to fit in with the Whitehall crowd.

    Then the wider issues about who votes for whom – based on skin colour/other prejudices – are more complex. I don’t think you need to have a representative who looks more like you, and that’s a whole different discussion.

  5. Steve — on 22nd February, 2008 at 12:25 pm  

    Ah! Yet another thing about which we agree. ;-)

  6. marvin — on 22nd February, 2008 at 12:31 pm  

    What kind of a twat would deny people entry to a list or organisation based on their skin colour? Sorry mate, you’re not black enough. You got kinda tanned skin, but that don’t count son. Come back in another century when we stop being so stupid.

  7. Yaz — on 22nd February, 2008 at 4:16 pm  

    Not sure if i agree with you all. I take all your points and i have sat on the wall about this issue myself. I decided maybe its better to give ideas like this a chance. What’s the worse that can happen? It doesn’t work and it has to be abandoned.

    The alternative we sit around waiting to see if we can make it on our own.

  8. Katherine — on 22nd February, 2008 at 7:50 pm  

    I am torn on this, and on women-only shortlists too. Yes, in theory wouldn’t it be lovely, sweetness and light, if shortlists were made up of people selected entirely on merit. And jobs. And everything. And yet clearly this doesn’t happen and isn’t the case, across society, the workplace and in parliament.

    My mother (second generation feminist) says that she’s seen nigh on two generations of women insist that they can be shortlisted and get into the House of Commons on their own, and yet, in selection and election after selection and election, they don’t .

    I’m still not sure where I stand on this. But it is over-simplistic to say that everyone should just be selected purely on merit.

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