Addressing our lack of diversity

It’s long been accepted that diversity in the Liberal Democrats is patchy at best. 

Often our lack of diversity is compounded by a lack of understanding of what causes it, and how we work to make sure we better reflect society in an inclusive and meaningful way.

Diversity comes in many forms, and this often makes it difficult for us to develop strategies to expand our membership in a diverse manner.

In the Young Liberals we’re acutely aware of this issue and want to ensure that we are doing everything we can to help make us more accessible, understanding and mindful of people from diverse backgrounds.

In 2018 the Alderdice report delved into this issue and found that, on all levels of the party, racial diversity often fell so far down the priority list that it often got forgotten about completely.

The report’s findings, endorsed by Federal Board, placed a responsibility on the party, and all it’s constituent parts, to draw up a strategic response to it and its findings. 

Indeed, the Federal Party has recently created a Vice President BAME role to help shape our interactions with the BAME community.

That is why we’re working with LDCRE (Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality) to try and fix this issue. 

We’re working to develop a new “BAME Officer” role and overhaul our existing diversity system to ensure it encompasses and represents all liberation groups. 

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be working closely with Chris Annous, the LDCRE Young Liberals rep, to flesh out the role, its responsibilities and how it fits within our wider structure.

At the end of this we’ll be bringing forward constitutional changes to our Summer “Activate” Conference to formalise the role.

All of us have a responsibility to work to foster an inclusive space in which everyone can feel like they have a stake and can get involved. 

We’re taking the first step to making this happen, and we hope you’ll join us by doing the same in your part of the party.

* Callum is a Welsh Liberal Democrat member and current co-chair of the Young Liberals.

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11 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 18th May '19 - 11:01pm

    Progress on reducing the voting age is long overdue. I am not directly affected, but this is federal party policy from before the human rights bill was enacted.
    BBC reports on Wales and Scotland.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-42848685

  • David Evershed 19th May '19 - 1:33am

    Is the least well represented group in the Lib Dems the white working class (C2,D,E)?

    Do we have an analysis of where our members differ from the population as a whole showing where we are least well represented?

  • As a proud Liberal Democrat and first generation Briton, I salute efforts to diversify our support, membership and elected officials. However I have to say appointing BAME Officers is simply not the way forward. A commitment from top to bottom to explore neighbourhoods, communities and approach people different from our current membership is the only way forward. BAME Officers are a box ticking exercise unworthy of our great party.

  • Excellent news. Effective AND Visible representation is politically important – & the wealth of lIved experiences that a commitment to diversity brings is a huge benefit to any stage oh policy or decision making.

    And to prempt comments like “I don’t see colour, why should it matter?” – please accept: it does.

    Those from different ethnic backgrounds have different experiences, & a potentially different understanding of the world, & their points of view will be vital in making ours a more knowledgeable, rounded, mature party.

  • William Wallace 19th May '19 - 9:58am

    David Evershed: I don’t think any of the main parties, including Labour, draws much of its membership from the white working class. Our welcome surge of new members appears to be strongly professional and graduate. I agree that we should be working harder to attract new supporters and members from there. This year’s victories in local elections in working class wards across the North long neglected by Labour show what can be done
    .

  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-42848685
    David Evershed 19th May ’19 – 1:33am
    Is the least well represented group in the Lib Dems the white working class (C2,D,E)?
    Do we have an analysis of where our members differ from the population as a whole showing where we are least well represented?

    This is true of all Britain’s principal political parties- Tory, Labour, Lib Dem, SNP, Green etc.

  • I joined the Liberals in 1962 because of this very issue. Suggest you consult Lord Dhalakia who I worked with at the Commission for Racial Equality . Mt Facebook profile shows me chatting to Paddy at conference.

  • David Warren 19th May '19 - 11:15pm

    @DavidEvershed

    I would say that the white working class are underrepresented in the Lib Dems as they are in all political parties.

    I tried to highlight this with an initiative called ‘Blue Collar Liberals’ but I didn’t make much progress.

  • Malcolm Todd 20th May '19 - 8:35am

    David Evershed and David Warren
    Whilst underrepresentation of the working class in politics is a genuine problem, which you are right to raise (though without any suggestion of a solution, I note), I wonder why you specify “white”? Is there any reason to think that BAME working class people are any better represented than their white counterparts? As far as I’m aware, the ABC1-C2DE classification doesn’t apply only to white people.

  • David Warren 20th May '19 - 11:46am

    @MalcomTodd

    You are right that the black working class are underrepresented too.

    As far as putting forward proposals been there done that got the tee shirt. I did manage to have a dialogue with the leaders office when Tim Farron was leader but they were very defensive and didn’t follow up on our suggestions.

    Sadly I have come to the conclusion that the Lib Dems are happy in their comfort zone of appealing to the relatively prosperous, professional classes.

    The Liberal Party failed to grasp the need to adopt working class candidates 100 years or so ago. One of the reasons Labour overtook them.

    The Lib Dems are still making the same mistake.

  • David Evershed 20th May '19 - 6:06pm

    Malcolm Todd

    The reasoning is that nothing is proposed to achieve better representation for under-represented white C2, D, E but the party is already making special provision for all BAME of A to E categories as per the above article which states:

    “Indeed, the Federal Party has recently created a Vice President BAME role to help shape our interactions with the BAME community.

    That is why we’re working with LDCRE (Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality) to try and fix this issue.

    We’re working to develop a new “BAME Officer” role and overhaul our existing diversity system to ensure it encompasses and represents all liberation groups. “

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