Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why Don't the LibDems Have More Ethnic Minority Candidates?

A reader has sent this....
Andrew Pierce just asked Lynne Featherstone why no there are no black Lib Dem MP's and the answer came back:

"We don't have any safe seats where you can just place people, you have to earn your spurs in the Lib Dems."

What would Jimmy Macintyre make of that?

Indeed. I think Lynne Featherstone is being slightly disingenuous. There are indeed LibDem held seats which could select BME candidates. The trouble is that the LibDems have made little effort to encourage a more diverse range of candidates in LibDem held or marginal seats. She is also insinuating that the other parties have just placed candidates in seats as tokens. As she well knows, in the Conservative Party it doesn't work like that. Adam Afriyie, Shailesh Vara, Priti Patel and dozens of others are testament to that. They all won their selections on merit, not through any preferential treatment.

The LibDems have never elected an ethnic minority MP at a general election. Their only MP was the short lived Parmjit Gill who won the Leicester South by election in 2004 but lost it at the ensuing general election.

UPDATE: LibDem Blogger Jonathan Fryer rather makes my point for me in THIS post which is titled WHY IS THE LIBDEM CONFERENCE SO HIDEOUSLY WHITE?

51 comments:

Manfarang said...

I don't recall the Conservative Party as having lots of BME MPs.
Where is that Sri Lankan man that lost his seat a few years ago?

Iain Dale said...

He is now an MEP. Nirj Deva.

There are a handful of BME Tory MPs. There will be somewhere between 12 and 20 after the next election.

The point is the LibDems have none.

Anonymous said...

http://singh.thisislondon.co.uk/2007/10/lib-dems-reviva.html

londonmuslim said...

"a handful". Well that's ok then.

Anonymous said...

Why should a minority party employ a token ethnic minority MP?

All Black shortlists employed by NewCon and NewLab are just an insult to their voters. Best Man for the job should be the rule NOT token ethnic minority selection.

Keith Vaz the the best that Leicester has? I think NOT.

norman said...

I live in a borough (Highbury and Islington) where Libdems control the townhall. In the Highbury half , the wards have large populations of ethnic minorities with a 50-50 mix of black and asian population. Yet, Lib Dems have a lone ethnic minority councillor-an Asian but no blacks. I worked as an independent governor of a primary and a secondary school as well as served on the LEA education committees. My impression was that LibDems more than Labour think that the ethnic minorities are their voting fodder. Once I was invited into one of their town hall meetings on education which turned out to be party political. I was flabbergasted to hear the pontification verbose flowing from the lips of so many who were treating the ethnic minorities for granted in their woolly pronouncements. Libdems are spoilers and face many ways.

Paul Halsall said...

So Iain,

I take it you think Labour has been and is doing better on this issue than the Lib Dems?

Plato said...

I can't believe she said that - good grief.

Talk about dropper a clanger.

If she really thinks that LD voters will only accept a BME candidate if they basically have no choice in the matter...

Walsingham's Ghost said...

Mmmmm....

It seems they are Liberal, but not THAT Liberal!

WG

denverthen said...

Your coverage has been excellent of what rapidly looks like becoming a conference trainwreck for the Liberal Democrats.

The sheer stupidity of some of their remarks, beginning with that bizarre, tin-eared ad hominem assault on Cameron by lightweight Clegg, will not increase respect for them in the country one little bit - quite the opposite.

The idea of Clegg (Clegg!) branding Osborne "inexperienced", for instance, is hilarious. And now Lynne Featherstone seems to think it's OK to patronise minorities as much as she likes - or, rather, she has no inkling that her comments might have come across as offensive, even backward.

Basically, an awful lot of these Lib Dem MPs seem completely out of their depth. A bit like Vince Cable in that interview with Neil.

They just sound fake, shallow - and rather silly.

Gareth said...

"Why Don't the LibDems Have More Ethnic Minority Candidates?"

The answer to that is Why should they? All any candidates have to be is competent regardless of skin colour, gender, sexuality, religion or whatever else. It is patronising to suggest otherwise.

Getting hung up on a pissing contest over how many ethnic boxes you can tick is pathetic, and somewhat illustrates the problems our political discourse is riven with - we care too much about the symptoms and not enough about the cause. The cause being too many useless, statist Members of Parliament. Care less about what these people say and care more about what they do - much of what comes out of MP and candidate mouths is utter meaningless wiffle. Judge them by their actions.

To describe any group or institution as 'hideously white' is to imply there is something wrong with being white. How cretinous. Levelling a charge that something or someone is 'hideously corrupt' or 'hideously incompetent' would make much better headway than fretting over quotas and patronising vast swathes of this country who will surely roll their eyes every time this issue appears regardless of their skin colour.

We just want competent people! Don't care about who they are.

Ross said...

Does it matter how many MPs from ethnic minorities a party has? This kind of racial bean counting is best left to the Labour Party.

insert-coin-here said...

The Lib dems are instituitionally racist and so is anyone who votes for them.

Its obvious...isnt it?


On a more serious note....is this what keeps you awake at night?

Sandy Jamieson said...

If I remember that Leicester Bye-election the victorious Lib-Dem Candidate was not promoted as Parmjit Gill but as "P Gill" especially in the more white wards of the constituency

Anonymous said...

Perhaps because the Liberal Democrats are representative of Britain which remains 'hideously' white as you put it? I live in 'the provinces' as you city types like to label it and I only see a non-white person if I go into the Chinese or Indian takeaway. Not everywhere is like London.

Anonymous said...

2.33 and 3.19. No-one is saying there shouldn't be the best candidates for the places. But isn't it mildly odd for a Party with 60 MPs none are ethnic minority?

It is very odd the way the Lib/Dems thought they should be the natural party for Asians because they patronisingly thought they are a homogeneous mass opposed to the Iraq war. But they simply couldn't let these dashed fellows near the levers of power, what what!

JuliaM said...

"The point is the LibDems have none."

Surely the point should be, 'Who cares'..?

If they are good candidates, they are good candidates. They don't become magically better candidates by the concentration of melanin in their skin...

JuliaM said...

"So Iain,

I take it you think Labour has been and is doing better on this issue than the Lib Dems?"


Oh, who could claim otherwise? Look at the quality: Lord Darzi, Diane Abbott, Lord Ahmed, Keith Vaz, Baroness Scotland...

Ah. Wait...

And before anyone hurls the useless (by now) 'racist!' hand grenade, I don't consider these to be slimy, useless, greedy toads because they are ethnic minorities.

They are slimy, useless, greedy toads who also happen to be ethnic minorities...

Cynic said...

Its very simple. What she meant is that part of their voter base wont elect a Black or VEM Candidate so they don't want to risk losing marginal seats.

She also seems to think that VEM candidates need looking after (Bless) - presumably like female ones, the disabled etc

So is it the 'Not That Liberal' Party where apartheid was wrong in South Africa but the UK is different

Norton Folgate said...

Paul Halsall said...

So Iain,

"I take it you think Labour has been and is doing better on this issue than the Lib Dems?"


Judging by the calibre of Diane Abbot, Keith Vaz, Shahid Malik and Baroness Scotland i'd have to say NO.

Unsworth said...

Is there any real evidence that:

a) There's a great desire amongst members of various 'ethnic' groups to become MPs? And,

b) That these candidates, having put themselves forward, are not being successful?

If so, where is is this evidence or research?

Jimmy said...

Chris Galley

To show the party keeps its promises.

Simon said...

This does sound a bit like tarring the Liberal Democrats.

It's hardly their fault if people from ethnic minorities will vote for them but refuse to stand. It says a lot about the party.

Victor, NW Kent said...

I have pointed out for the past two years that the GlibDems only pay lip service to racial equality. It is either that or else other ethnic groups do not fall for the GlibDem line.

Jimmy said...

My 6.24. Wrong thread. Sorry.

Mike Law said...

Why should they?

Just because they are from an ethnic minority?

My wife is black and she gets pretty p#xxed off about this kind of thing.

Her view is that she doesn't want a position just because she's a black woman but because she's the best PERSON to fill that position.

Anonymous said...

This seems rather unfair. Why would black or ethnic minority candidates be thick enough to join the fence sitters of the third party ??

MikeyP said...

Because, like all politicians, they are hypocritical hoons!

JS said...

It's because being a lib-dem is a peculiar type of middle-class activity. Anyone else is unlikely to notice.

Rebel Saint said...

Has anyone noticed how hideously black the world of athletics is .. or is racist if we make observations about non-Caucasians?

Get over it everyone. The LibDems have lots of white people. So does Britain.

It could actually be seen as a credit to the BME population that they stay away such a bunk of no-hopers!

Chas said...

I think it is because black people are generally snappy dressers and don't want to wear beards and sandals.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the LibDems need to do some outreach work to bring the joy of beards, sandals, real ale and morris dancing to the ethnic minorities.

Scrapbook said...

It turns out that the Lib Dems don't have a single ethnic minority in their top 25 target seats and only four in their top 100!

http://politicalscrapbook.net/2009/09/hideously-white-no-ethnic-minority-candidates-for-liberal-democrats-in-top-25-target-seats/

Oh, dear.

Rebel Saint said...

Scrapbook said..."It turns out that the Lib Dems don't have a single ethnic minority in their top 25 target seats and only four in their top 100!"

So what?

How many "should" they have.

How many evangelical Christians should there be? And Roman Catholics? How many left handed candidates have they got? Or how many gingers?

Surely the only thing that should be monitored is how many of the candidates are passionate about Liberal policies ... whatever they might be!

Nicki UK (Trans Authoress) said...

Lets not stop with the ethnic minorities what about the rest of us (Trans-sexuals [TS]) being one such group and it does not just apply to the liberal democrats it applies across the entire political spectrum.

I have friend from where i use to live who stood for a local councilor position a few years ago, she is a post op TS.

I would love to stand, but i know being me i would not have a snow ball chance in hell.

Peter said...

Might be better if they could concentrate on trying to get a few sensible MPs elected.

Never mind what colour they might be...

Lester Holloway said...

How satisfying it must be for Conservatives to suddenly, for the first time in their lives, take the moral highground on ethnic minority representation.

Not, you understand, because anyone here did anything to bring about the change in the Conservatives. That was Cameron.

But now you actually have Black candidates, "we selected them on merit". Except, that didn't appear to happen before. So were Tories selecting on merit then, but the BME hopefuls just didn't measure up?

Iain Dale said...

Lester, your comments show you up. BME candidates were selected in safe seats long before Cameron. In Windsor and Cambs SW for example. So get off your high horse and welcome the fact that the Conservative Party is welcoming to everyone. Rejoice!

Lester Holloway said...

Iain, if you think two ethnic minority MPs selected before Cameron is all the evidence anyone needs that the Conservatives are down with modern multicultural Britain - MPs who were only elected in 2005 - then that really takes patronising attitudes to new heights.

Prior to 2005, you have to go back to 1992 to find a single BME MP elected on the Tory benches. I was simply pointing out that everyone here appears to be on a high horse, when the historical evidence does not justify such attitudes.

I've also seen more than enough evidence in more recent times of a residual resistence to BME candidates in your party to know that large swathes of the rank and file are simply gritting their teeth and bearing it; so the notion that the Tory party as a whole welcomes everyone, as you say, is evidently a whopping untruth.

Iain Dale said...

What utter rubbish. It seems to me you are the one with attitude problems, not people in the Tory party. I seem to remember exposing your rather nasty views on this site once before.

Lester Holloway said...

Engage with the argument, Iain.

Iain Dale said...

There isn't one. You are trying to paint the Tory Party as racist and it is anything but. From where I am standing it is you who is the bigot. Rejoice in the fact that the Tories had more BME candidates than Labour last time, and will do so again and that at least 7% of our MPs will be BME next time. That's not David Cameron's doing. That is the local associations who you seem to think are racist. You disgust me. Now go away and spread your lies somewhere else.

Lester Holloway said...

I'm the bigot, for pointing out that prior to 2005, the Tories elected ONE MP from a visable ethnic minority in my lifetime??? I think there are many Black Tories - who I assume don't frequent here - who would disagree with your implication that the Tories are spotless. I know, I've spoken to many of them, who've told me what they've gone through. But that's now forgotten, right?

Secondly, the number of BME candidates doesn't mean diddly-squat; it's the candidates that are elected that matter. Reason: because sticking BME candidates in hopeless seats is not progress. To suggest otherwise is simply patrionising.

I also know that it is central office who have led the way in the drive to select more BME MPs. Hence the reason why this did not happen before.

So, whilst I sympathise with the fact that an alternative point of view disgusts you, and brings out the need to tell me to "go away and spread your lies somewhere else", I just want to point out that some people - like myself - have been taking a close interest in this area for some time and have written both positive and negative articles about all parties regarding Black representation.

So before you double-over in frothing disgust and me, I suggest you take a cursory look at the recent history of the Conservatives, and a balanced look at the way I have been pretty equal handed about all parties in this regard.

I trust you won't censor this.

Lester Holloway said...

Are you censoring my last comment?

Lester Holloway said...

Iain doesn't like a debate on race. If he did, he'd have the courage to post my last substantive comment...

Iain Dale said...

Prat. I was away from my computer. I remember who you are now...

"A couple of months ago I threatened to sue a website called Blink. They were critisising Boris for the so-called Watermelon remarks and were insinuating that Tory bloggers like me, Tim Montgomerie and others were racist. It was written by a chap called Lester Holloway. After I eventually caught up with him the piece was withdrawn from the Blink website. I'm told today that Lester Holloway has resigned from Blink, saying all the things he was forced to write about Boris in the way that he did. Nice people, these Livingstone supporters. Thugs is another word."

I see you haven't changed much or indeed learned anything. How sad.

Lester Holloway said...

Considering that the "watermelon smiles" issue never got much attention from the mainstream media or right wing blogs, I think it was right that Blink and other ethnic minority media outlets should raise the matter, as a matter of public interest.

Secondly, you've got your facts wrong about me. I never said you or Tim Montgomery were personally racist. I said that too often racially offensive comments from your readers appear on those blogs.

Thirdly, another fact you've got wrong is that I claimed that I was forced to write things about Boris Johnson. I never claimed that. I have never retracted anything I've written about Boris or alleged that anyone told me to write it.

Fourthly, you've also got your facts wrong about me when you say I resigned from Blink. In fact, I resigned from The 1990 Trust, and when asked about it I have always said that it was an amicable departure.

It's amazing that such a short paragraph about me can contain so many inaccuracies. Truly staggering.

So, is writing something critical about Boris what makes me nasty, and a bigot, and leads you to hysterically tell me to go away?

Looks like a massive overreaction Iain. As well as a whole bunch of misinformation about me personally.

Iain Dale said...

Funny how you never queried it at the time.

Please go away.I am just not interested in your ridiculous views, and nor, I suspect are many other people.

Lester Holloway said...

What's ridiculous about campaigning for race equality?

You may not agree with what I say, but that's no reason to heap abuse on me, or tell me to go away (twice).

Iain Dale said...

You are not campaigning for race equality. You are trying to pain the Conservative Party as racist, which you know full well it isn't. And you don't like being called on it. Tough. Night night.

Lester Holloway said...

Here's what I've written about your party in the past month:

A positive article about (ahem) Conservative candidate Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones

http://operationblackvote.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/no-porkies-with-straight-taking-wilfred/

An article defending (ahem) Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey

http://operationblackvote.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/bailey-defiant-over-personal-attacks/

A positive story about a defector to the (ahem) Conservative party, Denise Headley

http://operationblackvote.wordpress.com/2009/08/21/community-champion-defects-to-tories/

An even-handed article about Ali Miraj, who many Conservatives spit at in print

http://operationblackvote.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/grammar-test-for-miraj/

A critical article about the Tories by David Lammy

http://operationblackvote.wordpress.com/2009/08/21/tory-distortions-about-the-anc-dont-fool-us/

So, you see contrary to your assertion I'm not out to portray the Conservatives as racist.

I could post many more links critical of Labour and the Lib Dems if you like.

All of which serves to prove that your feelings about me trying to claim the Tories are racist is simply untrue.

I am critical of all parties, sometimes constructively, other times perhaps more directly.

Iain, quite simply you're mistaken about me.