Announcing the Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality

Saturday 9th June is the day when a new campaign to end racial disadvantage within the Party begins. It will replace Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats and operate as the Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality.

This move has been inspired to some extent by the work done by Lord John Alderdice which states starkly that the Party has so far failed to properly ensure that it is representative of all the racial groups in our country. The new name demonstrates a new sense of purpose and direction and gives a clear indication that the organisation welcomes membership from everyone in the party who recognises that more needs to be done to enable the party to reflect the diversity of our communities at every level.

For those of us – and there are many in the party – who have spent decades campaigning against racism, it is shocking to comprehend that what we are still fighting to achieve, in the year 2018, is genuine equal opportunity and integration.

As the Alderdice Report points out, there is much to be done at every level in the party to make the organisation more inclusive and bring in a diverse new generation of activists. Tomorrow’s leadership is created from today’s new recruits and so we intend to create a positive plan to assist local parties in diverse areas to reach out to communities that are currently under-represented. We will be keen to talk to successful, integrated local parties to distil their experience.

The important and challenging factor identified by Alderdice is a change of culture. This has to be the responsibility of everyone in the Party, at every level. All -white local parties in constituencies with significant BAME communities cannot be acceptable. We need change and representation at every level. LDCRE will be campaigning and holding the leadership of the Party accountable, but we can only succeed with the commitment of all including Parliamentarians, regional officers and local party executives.

We need to look at the way the party recruits personnel and where they advertise. We must look at the party’s communications machinery to see how closely they liaise with the minority ethnic media, in sending these important organisations every news release that is sent to the mainstream media but also targeted news.

The party must have a position on the major issues concerning race equality and diversity – think back to the seventies and eighties when many young progressives joined the Liberal Party because of the radical and oft-repeated stance taken by the leadership on racism and apartheid. We must regain that reputation.

And there’s much to campaign on as a party, as racism – whether deliberate, institutional or inadvertent – is a factor everywhere you look. In education we should support the National Education Union conference’s unanimous rejection of calls to ban the hijab in schools and demand that top universities drop their bias in favour of the expensively educated. In housing we should expose and campaign against discrimination in housing allocation and racist rental policies. In health we should be demanding proper representation of BAME professionals in health service management – a recent survey indicated that there are only five BAME chief executives across more than 300 NHS organisations.

In the private sector we should be demanding that all companies that have more than 50 in the workforce should be required to publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay band as well as gender. In making such a call the party would be reflecting a growing view as seen for example in the government-commissioned McGregor-Smith report on race in the workplace. Naturally the Conservative government decided not to act on that, so our party should lead the charge.

We have a great leader in Vince Cable and chief executive in Nick Harvey who both understand why building diversity in both the party and in our society is essential.
This revamped organisation looks forward to working closely with them and others in key positions across the Party to take this much needed challenging campaign forward with unstinting guidance from our LDCRE President Baroness Meral Ece, Equalities Spokesperson for the Party.

We are planning a new positive chapter fighting for race equality within the Liberal Democrats and as Liberal Democrats, if you share our aims, join our new organisation and come along to our AGM on Saturday 9th June at Lib Dem HQ at 3pm and be part of this movement to shape the future direction of a truly representative Liberal Democrats Party.

* Roderick Lynch is Chair of the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats and will be Chair of the Liberal Democrat Campaign for Racial Equality. He is a member of the Federal audit & scrutiny committee and the London Region Executive.

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11 Comments

  • Is there a way of joining yet or signing up for emails before the AGM?

  • Great news !!!
    This exactly what the Party should be doing. Reaching out to BAME communities.
    I wish you every success !!!

  • Merlene Emerson 13th Apr '18 - 6:29pm

    Thanks Roger for the fabulous blog and for agreeing to lead the new organisation!

    CQ and everyone, I am the new Membership officer. We are currently building the website so it is not possible to join online yet. However if you email me at [email protected] I will send you an application form with info on the mode of payment of the membership fee (minimum £1) by BACs.

    Incidentally the AGM is at 3pm (not 11am) as stated above.

  • Tony Greaves 13th Apr '18 - 10:07pm

    Who has decided who occupies these and other new positions in this new set-up? (Just wondering).

  • Jonathan Hunt 14th Apr '18 - 12:04am

    Merlene, will AGM notices and nomination papers be sent out 21 days before the meeting as the current rules stipulate.

  • I am so glad that the this SAO has not been marginalised and is up and running, although in another guise. However, I have a great concern – it says in the Alderdice report (page 4) “The report also notes members have experienced negative attitudes because of their ethnicity” this to me is the main point in the report. Effectively it is saying that there is a very small element in the party that is hindering others because of their colour. I bet senior members of the party are fuming at this because there are decent people and are as much horrified by this statement as I am. LDCRE and the party need to work together to eliminate this kind of attitude that after many years is becoming acceptable, again, in society – especially against the Muslims. LDCRE needs to stay independent and call out issues where it see’s them – remember we can disagree without being disagreeable.

    I would like to see LDCRE do more in the future to encourage, train, support ethnic minorities in the party to stand as representatives for all officer posts so that there is better integration of LDCRE members in the party. The feel of “us and them” then gets eliminated.

    For a Rejuvenated LDCRE the main priorities as I see them are:
    – Be strong and if need be a challenging voice for the ethnic minority in the party,
    – Working within the framework of a party SAO be independent enough to charter its own agenda,
    – Ensure Lord Alderdice report is implemented (and his main finding was that other reports recommendations were not really implemented),
    – Support the development and integration of ethnic minorities in the party so that racially biased members do not hinder the talent of ethnic minority members

  • It’d be great if this new body could campaign for racial justice outside as well as inside the party. And maybe generate policy?

  • This is an excellent initiative. Will there be fundraising to encourage/support those from BAME backgrounds get to conference, and other events to help us become more balanced at all levels?

  • Jonathan Hunt 14th Apr '18 - 11:49pm

    The ever-efficient Merlene tells me that a returning officer will be appointed. So we can assume elections will be held, and for what will unravel as time runs out.

    Hopefully this will cover the concerns about democracy shared by Tony Greaves, me and many others. Not a top-down authority imposed by People Who Know Best, but one that belongs to all who care about race equality and racial justice, both inside and outside the party (as Jenny seeks).

    I urge members to get behind Roderick Lynch’s reforms and full-blooded attempts to bring true equality and racial justice to a party where it does not always exist.

    That is often because of what I call racism by ignorance. As well as the three priorities Tahir outlines, we must mount a programme of education and information about ethnic minorities and their culture among white members of local parties who often know little. That should have the effect of ensuring that BaME people wanting to join are met with a warm welcome.

    But EMLD has never had the money to do this. Its £2,000 grant barely paid the party back for stalls and fringe events.

  • Roderick Lynch 16th Apr '18 - 12:21pm

    Thank you for all the responses. EMLD/ LDCRE has a bright future. Time has come for the organisation to work with like minded individuals to deliver on the recommendations of the Alderdice report. At the moment we want to work internally to fix local / regional party constitutions, policies / procedures to make sure equality / diversity is at the heart of all that we do. The party now takes rectification of structures and policies seriously. There is a lot to do. A lot of education and training has to take place to achieve the positive outcome we all seek. The organisation is not a top down “do as we say” organisation. The AGM will take place and elections will follow. A new website is being built and will go live within the next 3 weeks. Contact Merlene Emmerson if you wish to become a member. This SAO is a grouping of the talents and individuals who want to see the party look and feel like the people we wish to represent.
    Come on board let’s walk arm in arm together.
    The goal is to influence policies that make there way in to future manifesto’s. Geoffrey, Fiona, Jeenie, Tahir, I hear your concerns and aspirations, the contents of which will be included in the shape and feel of the SAO. Tony, Geoffrey has answered in a way what I would have written. Come on board, let’s hope that we can all move forward as a team with views on how to better our offering to reflect Alderdice recommendations
    There is a fringe meeting at this week’s Scottish conference “Equality / Diversity the way it should be”
    20th April at 14.00 – 15.00hrs. Hope to see you there.
    Have a good week.

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