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  • Technorati: graph / links

    The case against ethnic short-lists strengthened

    by Sunny on 14th July, 2009 at 11:06 am    

    Sunder Katwala of the Fabians has put a strong evidence-based case on the Fabian website against ethnic short-lists. This follows on from earlier points him and I made against why positive discrimination in politics wouldn’t work.

    Here’s a key point: that progress has been achieved without shortlists:

    In 2005, Labour elected only 40 new MPs. This time, 3 Asian and black MPs made up 7.5% of the group. Labour fielded 32 BME candidates in all (5.1%). And that rose to 8% in selecting candidates who not already in Parliament. Both new candidates and new MPs were more than three times more likely to be non-white than had been the case in 1997, even though with Oona King losing her seat, there was only one more non-white Labour MP than in 2001 and only four more than in 1997.

    In this Parliament, Labour has held 26 selection contests in seats which the party already holds. In four cases (15.4%) it has selected non-white candidates. It can be confident of winning each of those seats: the least safe would require a 9% swing for the Conservatives in Streatham. And Labour is also likely to regain Bethnal Green and Bow following the implosion of George Galloway’s Respect party.

    Overall, Labour is selecting BME candidates at a rate of 10.5%. (This rises to 16.7% in marginal seats where Labour is within 10%, and falls to 8.2% in unwinnable seats).

    He is right in saying that Labour have gone the furthest, while the Cameroons have tried hard to catch up. The Libdems are woefully behind. Either way, he is right to use the evidence to point that short-lists aren’t the only way to get more representation in politics.

      |   Trackback link   |   Add to   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: British Identity, Party politics, Race politics

    18 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Sofia — on 14th July, 2009 at 1:43 pm  

      As far as I thought, positive discrimination is unlawful..this is different to the case of positive action.

    2. Sofia — on 14th July, 2009 at 1:46 pm  

      ..the latter is to counteract and abolish effects of past discrimination and stereotyping.

    3. dashenka — on 14th July, 2009 at 2:55 pm  

      why should people of modern days be responsible for what their earlier genearation did?

      it’s sheer racism, something that people visiting or writing on that site are supposed to fight against

      you don’t like the idea to be responsible for the action of people of your nation, why it is ok to force white people pay for their ancestors sins?

    4. Sofia — on 14th July, 2009 at 3:05 pm  

      Dashenka are you talking about the article or positive action? and nobody is ‘forcing’ white people to do anything…instead of ranting, why don’t you do some research

    5. Carmenego — on 14th July, 2009 at 4:01 pm  

      #5 Sofia
      Hear hear!

    6. sonia — on 14th July, 2009 at 4:31 pm  

      Of course positive discrimination wouldn’t work - do we really need some stats and an article by Sunder Katwala to be convinced of it?

      Excuse me - I must be feeling slightly cynical today.

    7. Narinder Purba — on 14th July, 2009 at 4:37 pm  

      Sunny, both Sunder and yourself make valid points - and I too find ethnic shortlists an oddity in that it is ultimately focusing on race - but the fact that more MPs are coming from BME backgrounds isn’t the real issue.

      There is, at least in my experience, a visible absence of people from BME groups involved in politics at a grassroots level, except, perhaps, where there is a greater concentration of these people. The question is, to which I haven’t really devised any solution yet, how do we attract more people from BME groups to be more involved in politics locally and nationally?

    8. sonia — on 14th July, 2009 at 4:47 pm  

      Good point Narinder, precisely. Too often the focus is on ‘representation’ - rather than the reality of what is going on in the ‘communities’ . I would ask.. Why are South Asians so politically apathetic for instance? more obsessed with gulab jamun, shadi and shopping? (especially the girls my god ) Why is it most Asian professionals are all to be found in the banking, medical, engineering IT, type sectors and very few in the third sector? (well we know the answer to that..mummy told them to find a stable profession)

      of course wider society is politically apathetic = and I personally blame the state of politicians today (hopeless uncharismatic, ugly liars for the most part that all of us apart from the most sweet naive types can see throught) and the political party system.

    9. MaidMarian — on 14th July, 2009 at 5:08 pm  

      Narinder Purba (8) - ‘The question is, to which I haven’t really devised any solution yet, how do we attract more people from BME groups to be more involved in politics locally and nationally?’

      Yes, sort of….

      Why stop at BME groups? We need to attract more people into politics and away from apathy. Decisions ultimately are made by the people who show up.

      I realise that many will disagree, but we need a ‘nicer’ more consensual and less self-indulgent politics. After all, who - BME or white - would want to go into politics when the knee-jerk reaction is that you are a, ‘hopeless uncharismatic, ugly liar?’ Or naive.

      The way to engage more people of all stripes in politics is to have less anti-politics. Not, I imagine a totally palatable thought for those who see internet comment as blood-sport.

    10. Narinder Purba — on 14th July, 2009 at 5:55 pm  

      Sonia, indeed, you have rightly identified the general apathy of British Asians towards politics - I cannot speak for other minorities - especially my generation - those born in the late 70s/early 80s - who are not really motivated to be involved in the community beyond the narrow confines of British Asian culture.

      What you get here is Asians who are hypocritical and in some ways socially naive, or want for better a word, ignorant. They love western culture and the fruits that come with it - money, comfort, and luxury, all of which are seen as barometers of success. Meanwhile, they shun integration, assert pride in their heritage, religion, and culture - whilst simultaneously doing everything in opposite, and opt to marry into their own race (and caste) - again, after fucking every other ‘type’ (”I’d never marry a white girl” they holler).

      It’s worthy of research into the values, ideals, and motivations of this demographic, and only then would we get a better idea. Again, this will vary geographically. Being from Newcastle, where Asians are not as predominant as in say Birmingham, their will be obvious differences and similarities alike.

      What I can say, is that a lot of Asians are like the bourgeoise… the new middle class… and weren’t they just splendid? :)

    11. Sunny — on 14th July, 2009 at 5:57 pm  

      There is, at least in my experience, a visible absence of people from BME groups involved in politics at a grassroots level, except, perhaps, where there is a greater concentration of these people. The question is, to which I haven’t really devised any solution yet, how do we attract more people from BME groups to be more involved in politics locally and nationally?

      As Maid Marian points out - this isn’t a BME question. This is a national problem. To make this purely a debate about minorities is to forget this malaise exists across the board, and any solution has to be across the board than just targetted at Asians or blacks or Muslims etc.

    12. Narinder Purba — on 14th July, 2009 at 6:14 pm  

      “This isn’t a BME question. This is a national problem.”

      I am fully aware that there is a lack of political participation across the board, I was simply referring to BME groups within the context of this thread: i.e. more representation of Britain’s diverse population.

    13. damon — on 14th July, 2009 at 8:49 pm  

      From Sunny’s post at the top of this thread: ”He is right in saying that Labour have gone the furthest, while the Cameroons have tried hard to catch up. The Libdems are woefully behind.”

      To get selected as prospective parliamentary candidate for the Lib Dems you’d have to have been a party member for several years I’m sure. To be a party hack and have a base of grassroots support within the party etc.

      You know that silly phrase ”you have to be in it to win it”? I’m sure it applies here.

      I don’t think I’m that against tweaking the selection process to boost BME numbers. Why does it have to be an official ‘all somebody’ process?

      It’s been interesting to see that the Tories have had Shaun Bailey confirmed as their candidate for Hammersmith for a couple of years now.
      What to think of them for putting him foreward, or him for being a Tory, I’m not sure.

    14. billericaydicky — on 15th July, 2009 at 7:35 am  

      I have always had difficulty with the label BME, sometimes BAME, because of course it was invented by OBV. The idea that there is an actual BME constituency outside of the race industry is a fraud.

      People from ethnic minorities see themselves as a part of their group and probably British as well but have nothing in commen with other minorities. The only thing that unites them is the language they have to use to communicat with each other, English.

      I have made no secret of the fact that the demands for so called positive discrimination or affirmative action are racist and are one of the reasons why we have two members of the BNP in Brussels.

      Harriet Harman is currently forcing a new so called equalities bill through Parliament which will make it legal to discriminate against white men in every sphere of public life. One of the people who help draft the legislation is Simon Wooley, an open admirer of Louis Farrakhan. This is rather like having Nick Griffin drafting legislation on asylum and immigration.

      The whole idea that in any way discriminating against white people is compensating for years of discrimination against minorities is a highly profitable lie. Profitable that is to crooks and hustlers like Wooley and Jasper and hundreds of others in the race and equalities industry.

      What is needed is to have the best available talent elected to all positions irrespective of the gender or colour of skin. In any event most ethnic minority MPs have been pretty disasterous. Oona King lost her seat because she was a terrible MP. She turned up just before the last election at an Old Age Pensioners lunch club in Stepney to give a speech to the members.

      She went on about how her mother was Jewish and her father, a black man, was a refusnik from the Vietnam war. She was shouted down by the pensioners who wanted to know why the building they were using was being closed down. She didn’t even know it was and was booed out.

      Likewise Diane Abbott is completely useless seeming to only be concerned with her black constituents and Keith Vaz only seems to arrange passports for Indian billionaires.

      What is interesting is that all of the Asian Labour Mps, with the exception of Vaz, have refused to join the call for all black short lists. One, a member in the west country, actually said that he wouldn’t have been selected under the scheme because his constituency is almost entirely white.

      I see this Fabian report as yet another sign that the powers that be have woken up to the fact that thirty years of the race industry harassing white people has led to the rise of the BNP.

      Whatever threats the Simon Woolys of the world can make about racism fall on deaf ears and not before time. I was told recently that Wooley has actually applied to all of the three main parties to be considered as an MP and all three rejected him. Pathetic or what?

    15. Sofia — on 15th July, 2009 at 10:37 am  

      Sonia “gulab jamun, shadi and shopping - political apathy in British Asians”- sounds like a good idea for an article

    16. Amrit — on 15th July, 2009 at 11:24 am  

      Re: those talking about getting Asians more involved - umm, well, given how deeply-rooted ‘traditional’ gender roles are in many SA households, I don’t see how you’re going to get much meaningful political engagement.

      Currently, women are actively encouraged to know f-all about politics, so the only people who will actually be able to pursue careers as MPs, will be people like Tony Lit (Mr. Sunrise Radio). Which is just great - that’s going to make SO MUCH DIFFERENCE to BME people’s lives.

      Narinder at #10 - AMEN. Might I just say though, that the elders are somewhat responsible for the attitudes of 2nd-gens? My parents, for example, despite being better than most, take a more active interest in Indian/Punjabi/Sikh current affairs than they do in British. My dad watches the news, but he doesn’t care about/discuss local issues the way he does Indian ones.

      Many 2nd-gen Indians, certainly, have inherited the ‘keep your head down and make money’ attitude, which is, of course, totally self-absorbed. As a career that involves risk and doesn’t confer automatic social status within the community, politics is hard to sell to Indians. I remember finding out a while back that apparently politics-as-career is viewed as a sort of ‘wayward (read: academically-struggling) younger brother’s choice’ in India.

    17. Scots Tiger — on 15th July, 2009 at 12:53 pm  

      Was the Tiger hallucinating or was there a post about Oona King’s defeat by Galloway and his - er - local supporters claiming that the said Oona King donated part of her salary to Israel?

      Was it here for a moment and then snatched away to the Fourth Dimension?

    18. bananabrain — on 15th July, 2009 at 1:08 pm  


      if you ask me, what you said about second-generation british asians could apply very well to second-generation british jews like most of the generation before mine. if you want to see the way british asians are likely to turn out, the jewish community is quite a good place - and i do mean all of it. i suspect in a generation’s time there will still be places like stamford hill, cheetham hill and gateshead, but they are more likely to be muslim enclaves than hindu or sikh ones as far as i can tell.



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