GLA selection results (UPDATED)

Duncan Borrowman has the top 11 selected for the London Assembly list elections next year:

1 Mike Tuffrey
2 Dee Doocey
3 Caroline Pidgeon
4 Jeremy Ambache
5 Geoff Pope
6 Ben Abbotts
7 Stephen Knight
8 Shas Sheehan
9 Duncan Borrowman
10 Monica Whyte
11 Merlene Emerson

UPDATE: The summary and full results are now available.

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  • Very disappointing lack of ethnic minority representation in the top ranks.

  • I’d like to echo that RMC.

  • Disappointed Liberal 31st May '07 - 10:10pm

    Seeing these results is one of the first times I’ve actually felt ashamed to be a Lib Dem.

    We didn’t even manage to put a BME candidate within the top 7 preferences, even though there was a fairly high proportion of BME candidates, most of whom were at least as good or better than some of those who’re in the top 7.

    I guess I should know this as a Lib Dem (why the hell to people vote Labour or Tory!), but sometimes democracy sucks

  • Disappointed Liberal 31st May '07 - 10:36pm

    I agree. I’m disappointed by what the membership said; as an activist, it’s pretty uninspiring.

  • Definitely agree; we’ve picked a white, middle class list (okay, Duncan, I’ll let you off being called middle class – you gave me so much grief last time I did).

    I really thought we’d pick a list that resembled London this time. It’s a disappointment.

    It’s a particular shame to see James Allie and Nasser Butt missing. After the little event we hosted in Hackney, I think it’s fair to say all the candidates impressed, but these two and Meral the most.

  • Disappointed Liberal 31st May '07 - 11:00pm

    You’re right, of course, Rob. But for tonight I’ll let my disappointment linger a while longer – I’m particularly sad to see that Meral didn’t make the list.

  • Disappointed Liberal: I did make the list at no. 9, but pulled out as I couldn’t see the point.
    If you’re not from South London and white, you are wasting your time under the present system. We end up with a list once again that do not represent London- for that matter, London Regional Executive do not represent London, nor seem particularly interested in doing so. The most diverse city in Europe, if not the world, will decide which party deserve their support come next year.

  • Not at all surprised that the useless wankers who have done basically nothing for London (other than sit on their arses and collect their taxpayer’s dosh) get to the top again. The rules that people like Mark are so proud of make it virtually impossible to get rid of useless incumbents. In fact they make it almost impossible to get to stand in the first place.

    Let’s be clear the people who run London region are by and large those from boroughs with no experience of winning elections. Those with experience of winning elections are far too busy running their councils or opposing illiberal Labour or Tory administrations to bother with the region.

    It’s time not just to sweep out the appalling Dee Doocey’s of this world, but the infrastructure that allows such an incompetent and nasty character to bully her way to the top.

  • Mark – I warned EMLD activists 4 years ago if they left their efforts to the last minute – Amazed you say this. As chair of EMLD, I emailed yourself and the chair of the candidates committee in January asking when you were planning to advertise selections, but guess what? heard nothing back. Seems all those on London Region, made the rules, set the timetable, and took full advantage of this without allowing the general membership any information until the advert appeared in Lib Dem News.
    Its outrageous to suggest that its all EMLDs fault. Remind me how many BME members you have on London Region again?
    No, I think they have got the list they wanted and frankly deserve.

  • Not knowing anything about the candidates really, and not having been eligible to vote seeing as I’ve never been from anywhere near London, I find the opening comments slightly disturbing… it seems almost to be a kneejerk reaction that a lack of BME/female candidates is necessarily and intrinsically A Bad Thing.
    If you want to say individuals are at/near the top of the list are bad candidates (I don’t know if they are or not I’m not saying they are or not), that’s one thing. But if the best candidates for the positions were old, white, middle class men, they should be the ones selected. Of course diversity is good, but if the old white man is a more capable and experienced candidate than the young black disabled woman, he should get the position – we shouldn’t look at the list and say “very disapointing lack of diversity”, because liberalism is colour blind and doesn’t care what’s between your legs. If the top candidates aren’t the best ones, that’s bad. But happening to be a white man isn’t a reason people should vote against you.

  • I’m pleased that my standing down has allowed Merlene Toh Emerson, one of the founders of the Chinese Liberal Democrats to get on the list. She would have been an asset to the GLA if she’d got in the top 5. A rising star.

  • Duncan, I did mean SW London. But with 1 person at the bottom of list from North London, I’m afraid I did’t want to get into semantics.
    9 BME candidates this time, demonstrated that we have people coming forward, so that cannot be used as an excuse any longer.

  • Grace Goodlad 1st Jun '07 - 1:30am

    James, yes!!!

  • Lib Dem member 1st Jun '07 - 8:20am

    If by “south west London” people mean the big membership local parties in Richmond, Sutton and Kingston, then two of the top three aren’t from South West at all.

    I think the results much more closely reflect the quality and length of campaigns that I saw people ran rather than which bit of London they are from.

    Caroline Pidgeon was clearly running for the GLA for a long time before even the email that Meral Ece mentions. She started early, campaigned well and got the result she deserved.

    Jeremey Ambache doesn’t seem to be quite my cup of tea – but same story with him. Worked hard for a long time, and well done to him.

    I wonder how many of those complaining now didn’t start their campaigns until some time this year? Well sorry, if that’s the case, you shouldn’t be looking to blame the system or others for your result.

  • David McBride 1st Jun '07 - 8:25am

    The whole selection system needs looking at for next time. There was not a selection ‘campaign’ except for endless e-mails and a few candidates turning out to fundraising events.
    It amazed me that London Region had a conference in February (I think) but started the process in March. Why were the two not put together and used as a hustings event? Regional hustings should also have been held.

    It seems a missed opportunity to me.

  • A good list. It paves the way for co-operation with the BNP.

  • Yellow Dawn 1st Jun '07 - 9:27am

    Oh dear. Exactly what we had all feared is starting to happen. A large number of ethnic minority candidates came from nowhere, with no profile and having done almost no campaigning, and stood. Predictably they did very badly – either because they are very low calibre and should never be elected to anything, or in most cases simply because they have not done any campaigning and nobody has heard of them – and then they claim (or some do) that it is all racism.

    As someone who really does want to see us maximising our opportunity for votes by having a list which reflects London’s diversity, this is so depressing. “White” candidates do not, contrary to claims, have it all simply fall into their laps – they have to work very hard for it over years. Ethnic Minority candidates cannot expect anything different – when will we get some EM candidates who realise this and are prepared to go out and actually do the hard work?

    If someone can show me an ethnic minority candidate who had a campaign team in place a year ago and has spent that time going round London being seen, campaigning in council byelections, raising their profile and generally making lots of party members think they would be a good GLA member – the sort of commitment shown by Jonathan Fryer, for example, who has been doing this for the last four years – and then who didn’t end up in the top few places, then I will accept the claims of racism. Until then, stop whinging. Caroline Pidgeon, for example, did all that and that, rather than the fact she is white, is why she did so well.

  • I’d like to second the comments of JohnS above. The snide moaning about the lack of a BME candidate is undemocratic and unseemly. By all accounts this was a fair and open election (albeit with some procedural flaws) and this kind of compliant implies that simply being white British should place you at a disadvantage. It also carries the distasteful proto-racist connotation that only those of the same ethnicity can represent you.

    London is the most ethnically diverse city in London but so what? That is not an argument for fiddling the system. I don’t care if my representative on the GLA or in Parliament shares my gender, my age, my religion or my race. I only care that they have a genuine interest in representing me and my area and that requires intelligence and competence not a unique skin colour. For those that do care I refer you to the 2001 census where it found that 71% of Londoners identified themselves as white, 12% asian, 11% black, 3% mixed and 1% Chinese. So based on these numbers and accepting the dodgy premise of ethnic representation there should still be a majority of white candidates. Of the white population there are more non-British white than there are black. Do they deserve there own representation? These numbers are of course 6 years old but if anything I would imagine the non-British white share to have grown considerably with the influx from Eastern Europe so where can I ask is the Polish candidate? But why stop just at ethnicity? Where is the representation of Londons 600,000 Muslims or it’s 100,000 Sikhs and 1 million atheists? I think I’m ranting now so I’ll stop this post and just repeat what I think was my point…

    I don’t care if my representative on the GLA or in Parliament shares my gender, my age, my class, my religion or my race. Any party that fiddles the system to ensure better ‘representation’ on any grounds except ability loses my vote and my respect.

  • In all the talk about BME representation (and Shas and Merlene both have good positions to build on in the future), it’s worth noting that both the top five and the list as a whole are pretty much gender balanced.

  • Whoah, let’s be a bit more positive guys. BME representation higher up the list would have been great, of course, but we’ve got some really talented people in electable positions here. Contrary to what some people have said about people not being able to campaign, I think Caroline’s success in particular (and Jeremy’s too I think) shows that good campaigning, not necessarily in terms of expensive direct mail shots, but in terms of getting about over a period of years, developing a reputation and building up a strong campaign team really pays off. Likewise Stephen Knight’s in terms of getting selected for the south west London seat.

    My commiserations to those who didn’t get a high place, or any place, on the list, but some advice too – go for one of the constituencies and use that, even if you don’t win, to get a great result, impress people and put yourself in a stronger position for four years time. That’s what a number of those successful this time did.

  • Daniel Bowen 1st Jun '07 - 12:00pm

    If the reports here are true of massive SW London bias remaining in membership, I wonder what the likes of Islington have been doing these last few years.

    It’s clear that part of the problem lies in the middle-class armchairs of South-West London; but part lies in the promotion and development of strong BME candidates too. The ‘how to get yourself selected’ techniques aren’t exactly new, and there are many ways to do them. Why isn’t the Party as a whole putting dedicated resource into offering these to BME candidates? What has happened to all the promises at Brighton about diversity? (Sorry, I can guess the answer to that one….)

    I don’t live in London but close enough to know most of the candidates. Most of the BME candidates had no profile whatsoever in the Party as far as I can tell.

    But that said, Dan has a point. Incumbency does tend to reward itself, however uninspiring the incumbents may be. That creates an unlevel playing field, which in itself is not Liberal, and needs to be addressed. The selection rules were clearly a total joke; but all those unhappy with them should now get on London Region and ensure they’re changed, prompto.

  • Climb every stairway 1st Jun '07 - 12:34pm

    Where is Steve Hitchins and his thousands to support BME candidates?

  • Dear oh dear oh dear. Labour and the Tories will be rubbing their hands in glee. At a time when London’s BME population is almost 40% and will probably be in the majority within a decade, the Lib Dems select an all white London slate for the London Assembly. LOL!

  • I am aswell disappointed with the result. However, every Lib Dem member in Lodon and volunteers, should all help to captilse on the current Labour losses, thus hopefully having a chance of getting Merlene Emerson elected.
    We can not split now otherwise there will not be an effective campagin especailly with the Conservatives and over “grammargate” it proves they are diveded still a bunch of MPs and party memebrs. We should all put this behind us and start campainging, after all it is lest than a year to go.

  • Yellow Dawn: I think your remarks are very offensive. As one of the ethnic minority candidates I take exception to your telling me and others that we were either of ‘low calibre’ or did nothing and had no profile, so deserved to lose. So all the white candidates were high calibre, hardworking and ran fabulous campaigns?
    As a senior councillor, former PPC, GLA candidate, FE member, & chair of EMLD, I would certainly never expect anything to ‘fall in my lap’
    I have heard this disgraceful tired argument too many times!
    We will once again have a GLA exclusively from South London and all white.
    They will not be representative of London, and therefore attract fewer votes.
    Merlene and Shas, both from Richmond too, have no hope of getting elected.
    At least I won’t have to worry about being wheeled out on the Politics Show, as I was in the last campaign, to explain why we had no BME candidates in winnable positions.
    I know for a fact that the other parties are ensuring their candidates are far more diverse.

  • Have saved these comments. james Graham’;s, in particular, will be featuring in a Labour leaflet near you sometime soon.

  • Daniel Bowen 1st Jun '07 - 2:14pm

    OBV has obviously been bought into the whole Livingstone/Jasper ‘diversity’ agenda. It’s a disgrace and I hope they never come crawling to us for anything in future.

    The ‘where’s Hitchins?’ question is entirely fair comment.

  • As a white male from South London who chose not to stand this time I’m really pleased to see Caroline selected so high up the list.

    What we should be doing is getting on with campaigning on issues that matter to all Londoners rather than pandering to tokenism.

    I’m no great fan of selection contests rules and returning officers having fallen victim to them once or twice – but to play the race card is a cheap trick.

    In my experience Lib Dem members tend to positively discriminate rather a lot in favour of women and ethnic minorities – I know I do. I suspect some of these candidates who are moaning might have done a lot worse if we hadn’t.

  • Mark: I am not criticising you personally, but London Region collectively.
    Have you ever discussed how you are going to increase diversity in the London Region? Have you taken a lead on this?
    When was the last time this issue was even debated or discussed?
    As a member of London Region in 1999, I wrote a paper on ‘Engaging with BME communities’ Has this ever been rolled out, discussed or updated? No, thought not. Yes I got information on the Euro selections months ago both from you and from Jonathan Davies. Despite my best efforts, the timetable for the GLA selections remained a closely guarded secret, presumably for the benefit of the candidates from London Region – Jeremy Ambache, Caroline Pidgeon, and her ‘agent’ Dominic Mathon,et al.
    I can’t force BME people to stand for London Region. Bit like asking a woman to join an all men’s club.
    The Operation Black Vote PR, is a taste of what will be thrown at us in the coming year. Lets hope the ‘Top 5’ can come up with the answers.

  • Well we could field more BME candidates at consitunency level? In places like the inner city boroughs, couldn’t we?

  • Two of the top three candidates are women and two of the top three candidates are from areas where we are primarily fighting Labour.

    Great news on both fronts.

  • Serena Hennessy 1st Jun '07 - 3:18pm

    Since when does Shas count as North London? (lives Putney, councillor for Kew…). And what is this cobblers about SW London ‘bias’ – are you suggesting our votes count for more? We were probably marginally less likely to vote for Dee than otherwise, on account of knowing her so well. And if some of us voted for Jeremy (not me, I voted for Shas) it’s because we’re all absolutely terrified of him after his iron grip on Susan Kramer’s election campaign.

    I’ve been worried about this for ages. I voiced my concern to our party chair about the damaging message sent by Nasser and Norsheen’s poor results in the SW constituency ballot – only to be firmly told they made a poor showing at the hustings.

    I don’t know what we do – any suggestion of affirmative action brings screams of illiberal and tokenism (see John S above: liberalism is colour blind and doesn’t care what’s between your legs.) Can’t we move on from there and admit that the playing field needs levelling?

    That said, I’m afraid there’s a lot of truth in what many posters are saying: there’s no substitute for simply starting early and working your backside off. The only reason I know half the names on the GLA ballot is because I used to work in the candidates’ office, not because we’ve ever seen them in SW London. Jonathan Fryer now, he comes to everything!

  • beingpedantic 1st Jun '07 - 3:20pm

    ‘Well we could field more BME candidates at consitunency level? In places like the inner city boroughs, couldn’t we?’

    Thus failing to address the point entirely, which is that the winnable seats on the list have exclusively white candidates.

  • Climb every stairway 1st Jun '07 - 3:54pm

    What are the Rowntree people doing to influence how Hitchens spends their money?

    Rowntree need to give something to OBV.

  • Jeremy Sanders 1st Jun '07 - 4:30pm

    As a non-Londoner I can hardly claim any great knowledge of the details of the GLA selection, but as an outsider, there do seem to be a couple of obvious points here.

    Inevitably, any democratic system is going to favour candidates from the areas where there are most voters. If certain of the stronger south / south-west London constituencies have got bigger memberships, it’s hardly surprising candidates from those areas are doing better. I suppose the obvious response is that there’s nothing stopping other constituencies going out and increasing their membership too.

    In a postal ballot of all members, most people are going to vote for 1) people they know personally, and 2) people they have at least heard of on a fairly regular basis. As most members are not active outside their own local area, what this is likely to mean in practice is that a large proportion of voters are going to give their top preference(s) to people from their own constituency / borough, and those that don’t are likely to vote for candidates with “name recognition” factor, which probably means the incumbents and / or the “Party establishment” candidates.

    The (sad?) fact is that no amount of tinkering with the rules is going to alter these basic facts. If you have a democratic selection process, with the membership profile that the Party (apparently) currently has in London, this is the sort of result you are going to get.

  • 52 – James – the other alternative is for all the people who are moaning to organise better selection campaigns for the people they want to see selected.

  • Eleanor Hodges 1st Jun '07 - 5:00pm

    1) If people are complaining about a bias toward the South West – instead of complaining – go out and recruit more members? I also know that a number of 1st preferences were split because a number of candidates were from the South West.

    2) The fact that the South West Seat selection began earlier gave certain individuals a head start. There should have been no overlap or total overlap of seat selections with the list.

    3) The list and SW Seat selection should never have taken place at the same time as local elections. The people who organised that should be taken out back and shot.

    4) London activists were probably aware of the GLA selection – the general membership were not. No warning was given to the deluge of e-mails and phone calls that members recieved. At a time when the party is asking for more and more e-mail addresses to campaign with I’m sure we’ve lost a few hundred becuase of it.

    6) Well done to those candidates who have been preparing to do this for a while (Caroline). A note to future candidates – there are by-elections in Havering, Haverstock and Hanworth Park. Who has been yet? Candidates who work hard all year, every year will win.

    7) We shouldn’t be a party of positive discrimination. We should get the best candidates for the job. Poor candidates/elected reps do not do the party any good whatever colour/gender/sexuality/religion they are.

    We need to increase training and mentoring as a party – but a note to future BME candidates – get training and mentoring from those who know how to win, not those who complain about discrimination all of the time.

    There are plenty of people who can help or are willing to help potemtial candidates.

  • Looking at the detailed results it doesn’t look like there was a massive ‘SW London’ factor. The transfers split all over the place – there is certainly no clear SW London block vote.

  • Yellow Dawn 1st Jun '07 - 6:26pm

    One critic on the racial balance issue above writes:

    “So all the white candidates were high calibre, hardworking and ran fabulous campaigns?”

    Well, of the top five, basically yes (probably a slight exception in Geoff Pope, but he had the great advantage of incumbency – and I think I’d probably say that most of them ran ‘good strong’ campaigns, rather than ‘fabulous’ ones!)

    OBV’s press release has helped me to understand that they are a fully paid-up section of the Labour party – I had previously assumed that they were genuinely cross-party, wrongly it now turns out. I mean which other organisation that claims to be cross-party would put out a press release containing just one quote from one person in one party which directly attacks both other parties? And the fact that they can wheel out Fiyaz Mughal – a man who will do anything in the media but wouldn’t know a hard day’s campaigning if it came and slapped him in the face – to support them certainly doesn’t change that.

    But they had one line which had quite an insight.

    “Not one BME candidate made it in the top eight of the Lib Dem London Assembly top up list.”

    I actually do think that the party needs to think about changing its systems to facilitate more BME candidates. But can we just consider for a moment the possibility that if BME candidates didn’t do too well that they might actually bear some responsibility for that? Just a little bit? It might not (only) be the system – it might at least partly be the candidates as well?

    As many have said above, there is a perfectly clear formula for what you have to do well in these selections – Hard Work.

    Like I said before, you show me a BME Pidgeon or Fryer who hasn’t done well and I’ll accept your case that there is racism going on. Until then it’s just people whose capability and commitment and dedication to hard work aren’t in line with their own self-image of their own worth, whinging.

  • I am so fed up of hearing the same refrain from unsuccessful BME candidates. I am an ethnic minority woman myself and am 100% against positive discrimination. If the candidates are strong enough and run an excellent campaign (along the lines that Caroline Pidgeon did), they will get there. I’m sorry to say that most of those who kick up a fuss are just not very good. I was at the SW London hustings and was embarrassed by the two BME candidates’ performances, especially the one and only woman. I felt compelled to vote for a white middle class man – Stephen Knight – because he was the best of the bunch by a mile.

    As Eleanor Hodges says, we need good mentoring and training for BME candidates, along the lines that GBTF gives. All BME shortlists and any other form of positive discrimination is insulting.

    Given that Shas had no London profile and started her campaign really late, she did brilliantly to come 8th. She’s a BME candidate, she’s excellent and she doesn’t spend her time calling people racist when she doesn’t get what she wants. I’m sure she’ll be successful as a PPC or future GLA candidate.

    And for the North London and SE London whingers – get off your backside and recruit some members. Oh, and Caroline is not from SW London and managed to come 3rd on the list.

  • Nasser Butt 1st Jun '07 - 6:52pm

    I just spent long time reading all the comments above. I was referred to this discussion by Lester Holloway of Blink (previously The Voice) this afternoon, who wanted a comment for his news report on the GLA results and in particular the press releases from OBV and Ken Livingston. I have copied my statement below for your information. Blink has not used it as yet.

    I have just one or two responses to members who have mentioned me above.

    Mark- I never attack you personally (you are a lovely harmless bloke but always take things too personally), but I did attack your ideas which I found characteristically bureaucratic and pedantic and lacking any realism or modesty.
    The argument I had was not with you (Mark) but with a Returning Officer (Mark) for SE Euro election, who failed to oversee the selection rules which asked the selection panel to give due regard to ethnic candidates and your team for South East specifically excluded the only two ethnic candidates from the short list, who had put themselves forward for that Euro selection. Recently the English Candidates Committee took out this clause that required Selection Panels to give due regards to the ethnicity of the candidate and now there is no requirement for the selection panel to give this consideration even in areas of high BME populations.

    Serena- You have quite rightly picked up results from South West as appalling indictment of South West White Middle Class let me give out the results. Steven Knight approx 400, Jeremy A Approx 300 Nasser and Norsheen Approx 30+ each. I had a different feed back from the Hustings, I was told Steve and I out performed the other two candidates partly because the other Two candidates read out their speech etc. In any case there were only 40 or so very old retired members in the Hustings! I also campaigned very hard to the point that some other candidate accused me of employing telephone staff, perhaps they thought a BME candidate was incapable of building a team of helpers in this Party!

    Yellow Down – and anyone else who thinks that BME candidates do not do the work and have not been campaign or just turn up, I advise you to re-read Merel’s response and see my 15 years work for the Party on If that’s not enough I can give you a long list of BME candidates with similar record of delivery for the Party and none of them have so far been in any winnable position thanks to our members.

    The membership in this Party and particularly those who converted from Tories to Lib Dem will need more time to become Liberal!

    May Statement to Blink
    To answer the question: Has Sir Ming Campbell’s statements and efforts to get an BME MP for Liberal Democrats made any difference to getting a BME candidate likely to win any seats in the next Parliament? Nasser Butt who unsuccessfully contested GLA selection and a number of Parliamentary target seats over the last 12 months stated:

    “Sir Ming’s Statements have changed nothing. There has been no effort from Ming’s appointed team to educate the membership or the party hierarchy, or the Candidates selection teams to do anything to help select a BME candidate. There has been no training provisions put in place like the Party had for the Women candidates, there has been no funding allocated to any effort to get a BME candidate selected to a winnable seat and as a result no BME candidate is in any more position to be in a winnable seat than they were in last General Election.

    There are some very good BME candidates around but they are pioneers up against the British political culture that is pitched against them. The selection is controlled by white indigenous membership in all the three political parties and not enough of the Party membership are as yet prepared to give BME candidates enough first preferences and coming second in selection will not deliver a winnable seat to a BME candidate.

    The BME candidates have always had to fend for themselves in a supposedly open competition, but it’s not open of course, as there is always hidden intentional or unintentional prejudice in all people that critically shows up particularly in politics. This prejudice will only be eradicated through education and the three main political parties do need to educate the general and in particular the active membership.”

  • [Quote]A good list. It paves the way for co-operation with the BNP. [/quote]

    If that is the case then I am appalled and disguested with the Liberal Democrats. I thought that this party was about divesity but i was wrong. Yet another example of this party going backwards and is no suprise. If this is the way the party is going to go then I hope that it gets a damn good kicking at next year’s GLA Elections.

    From a former party member
    Paul Alan Seery

  • I hate to spoil everybodies fun but Dee Doocey is in fact Irish.

    I don’t know what she’s ever done to you Dan but that sort of language is totally uncalled for.

    If the campaign was hard on the canditdates spare a thought for the electors, scores of Emails, dozens of telephone calls (5 from one candidate alone). A prospectus with only one page for each candidate. All for a job that pitifully few members understand, and even less Londoners care about.

  • To ‘Yellow Dawn’ – when you have the guts and decency to let us know who you really are, then we can have a sensible debate. I can more than answer any of your questions about ‘profile’, and work and commitment for the Party.
    In the meantime can I ask you to refrain from being so offensive to people.
    Why don’t you come right out and tell it like it is – you find the whole issue of BME representation a nuisance and rather a distraction. You’re a disgrace!

  • I genuinely think we are being too suspicious of each other here.

    I don’t think that BME candidates get the support they yet need, but equally feel strongly that the field has to be level and nothing else. I don’t think that anyone who is involved enough in this party to write on here is capable of racism. Maybe I’m naive, I don’t know.

    There are issues with armchair memberships tending to be perhaps a little less liberal than us, but don’t think that this is enough of a factor that a BME candidate who ran a good selection campaign would run up against this as such.

    We must continue to avoid tokenism, which is a far worse charge in my opinion than being, white, middle class and boring.

    I have faith that this party will make a breakthrough with BME candidates one day soon.Fingers crossed and I hope some of the people writing here remember that we are all Liberal Democrats.

  • In a perfect world, “positive discrimination” would be seen as undesirable and illiberal. This isn’t a perfect world. Whilst BME representation shouldn’t be an issue for us in 2007, it is. We have to face the reality that we are not reflecting London, either in our membership, or in our choice of GLA candidates. We aren’t going to deal with the membership issue until we address the GLA and PPC issue.

    Nuisance or distraction, it is important. If we have to break this down into something that Yellow Dawn can understand, we are pissing off a significant proportion of the electorate and leaving ourselves open to ridicule as we can see above.

    For those who have got past the first of Kohlberg’s stages of morality, we have a serious issue here. Simple voting isn’t getting us past the fact that we are looking at something that amounts to institutionalised racism. We need to formulate a way forward for next time, in my view preferably with zipping or the like for both BME and women candidates. Do we take this to the next London region conference or does it need to go to Brighton? I do worry though that these things are always looked at by national conference with a Westcountry/Scottish Highlands pair of pink sunglasses.

  • Mark, yes the one and only motion about increasing diversity came from London Region, and I supported it and spoke in favour of it at conference last year. We won the vote. It was great, and we all felt we had at last turned a corner. I give you credit for that.
    This whole debate isn’t about simply BME representation. We are actually throwing up our hands and admitting defeat that we can ever have a Party that looks like the population that we seek to represent. If that is the case, why on earth would we expect that around 40% of Londoners would vote for us?
    I have spent 10 years campaigning in London, mainly with the large Turkish/ Kurdish and Cypriot (all Muslim)communities in inner London (Hackney, Islington, Haringey, Southwark, Lewisham, Waltham Forest) many of whom switched to us for the first time. For me it was an achievement that 100s of people contacted me to say that they had voted for the first time! I have spent 10 years going round to every event in these communities, simply because for them, I am the politician with the highest profile from their own community, and I’m a Lib Dem. It means a lot to them that they have someone from their community in mainstream politics in this country. So for the ‘yellow pawns’ of this world, tell me where you have made an impact, and engaged with communities that have rarely engaged in political and public life in the UK? This is the value added that BME candidates can bring to any political party, and believe me the Labour Party, and in recent years the Tories, are doing precisely this. Not becaue they actually believe that BME communities need to be part of mainsteam public life in the UK, but because they know they cannot win elections without their support.
    Lynne Featherstone, a successful and seasoned politician spoke great sense, because she knows that in a place like Hornsey & Wood Green, she couldn’t have won without significant numbers of BME communities switching to us from Labour. If we want to make real progress we have to wake up to some realities.

  • Nasser Butt 1st Jun '07 - 9:36pm

    Actually, There were some serious proposals put to the regional and federal conference during the last two years. However, the Regional Executive under the guise of one Mark V. and the Party President recked these motions and we ended up with a motion from Simon Hughes which was no more than his usual non-quantifiable promise, that if not delivered there is nothing to hold him accountable for. But probably judged it right as the Members at the Federal Conference have been unwilling to take any positive actions to help equalize the BME deficit in the Party. I wait to see what report Simon presents at the conference? I would Also like to see Ming or Steve report back on progress on their promises with the £200k from the Rowntree money.

    I wonder What progress reports Simon has been presenting to the Federal Executive on this? I know for a fact that there has been nothing delivered in terms of BME candidates or membership.

  • zipping = bad, undemocratic, nasty, insulting, patronising. Thats my view.

    There have to be better, more liberal ways.

  • Yellow Dawn,

    You are a joke! Not only do your comments show the problem within the Party in terms of it’s lack of co-ordination, strategy and insight on BME representation and the support that these candidates deserve (since there are many capable and able BME individuals), you have chosen to hide behind personal attacks which show the character that you are. If you are a Party member, then I am afraid that the Party needs to screen out individuals like you and reject you – quickly!!

    Cllr Ece and many others have worked their socks off on working for BME representation. And the abuse against Fiyaz Mughal is unwarranted since at least he has the guts to stand by what he believes and here is someone that has stood twice in elections and won in separate wards at a local authority level. For you to dismiss comments like that shows a shallow sense of the deep feeling that runs within candidates from BME communities who see a Party ill at ease with itself and the lack of black and brown faces on the front benches. And there is no shortage in talent – unless you are in denial about that!!

  • Anonanon, as I said, in principle, in a perfect world, I would agree. We have to face the reality of this situation, and that’s why I am favouring zipping as an approach. It’s fairer than restricted shortlists and produces the right result.

    I’m keen to see an amendment in front of London region at the next opportunity (thanks, Mark, for clearing up the process). Do we have anyone any good at writing these things who would be keen to do so?

  • Tony Greaves 1st Jun '07 - 10:59pm

    I was going to join in until I realised that you are all saying these things in such an instant manner in public. Do you (the Liberal Democrats amongst you) really think that is sensible?

    I’m going back to cix, quick!

  • Wake up and smell the coffee, people! For too long this country has been run by a vicious, self-serving cabal of stale pale white males. It’s time for a vicious, self-serving cabal of women, BMEs and LGBTs to take over!

  • I think Eastenders positive suggestion should be explored.
    Yes Mark, you’re right. Whilst people like me take the time to go out and sell our liberal principles to the wider communities – and there are Bangaldeshi, Pakistani, Chinese and other BME candidates represented this time round, from the ‘low calibre, came from nowhere’ BME candidates, the ‘others’ as you put it Mark, have been beavering away at winning personal selections, in the hope that the feckless BME lot, will ensure that they win more votes from the 40% of Londoners. As you put it, they did not count for a lot of votes in our internal selection, but they certainly count for a lot of votes come the real elections, in 2008. I didn’t get involved in politics simply for material rewards.
    I’m rather proud to be one of the former.

  • 87 – “It’s time for a vicious, self-serving cabal of women, BMEs and LGBTs to take over!”

    Well, that’s 65% of the population taken care of – we must be assured victory in the next general election.

  • Geoffrey Payne 2nd Jun '07 - 10:03am

    It is very simple surely? The members receive a ballot paper with names most of which they are unfamilier with. The names the recognise they vote for and then they post their vote.
    I would guess that for many it simply did not even cross their minds that they were voting for white candidates.
    Maybe they should have done? The problem is, how can you justify voting for a BME candidate if you do not know anything about them?
    Most London members live in the South West so there is a bias in the system. However I would baulk at suggesting that having actually succeeded in recruiting more members that they should then be penalised for that.
    It was right not to have hustings, there were too many candidates. In Hackney we invited them to a social and I am surprised more local parties did not do the same. I believe the BME candidates who turned up gave a good account of themselves and they won our votes. However campaigning is “all the year round, not just at election time”.
    In addition race cannot be the only criteria. My first vote went to Meral as she has done a great job for us in Hackney recently, and second preference went to Caroline because she combines activism with a thoughtfulness that extents beyond that of party politics. To me those qualities were every bit as important as considerations to do with BME.
    After that I voted for Shas and Nasser. On the whole I was disappointed with the results, but I think the system is fair. I am open to suggestions as to how it can be improved, I have no doubt about the quality of the BME candidates.
    My advice to anyone who wants to get elected is look on flocktogether website, go to the events, get yourself known and if you give a good account of yourself then you improve your chances.

  • I think there are various conclusions that can be drawn from this selection, most of which you could have guessed at before it started:

    1. Yes, incumbency matters a lot (Tuffrey, Doocey) – no surprise, as 80% of members won’t have heard of 80% of the candidates. But it’s not the only factor (Pidgeon & Ambache beat Pope).

    2. Having a big local party like Richmond & Twickenham helps too (Doocey, Pope, Knight, Sheehan, Emerson) but again it’s not sufficient on its own (Tuffrey, Pidgeon, Ambache). In fact, like Jeremy Ambache, if you do the work and are clever, you build a profile in a number of local areas (eg the work he has been doing in helping run local by elections in Redbridge, Barnet, Camden etc).

    3. There really is no substitute for hard work. You win the votes of members by actually spending time meeting them, in their own patches (and as a second best, hitting the phones). You win credibility by campaigning hard both in your own area and in by-elections. And, crucially, not only do you win votes directly that way, you also motivate people to join your campaign team and spread the word. You can’t expect to win a selection covering 9000 members on your own. And you can’t expect people to join your team unless you really inspire them.

    4. Spending time during the election campaign complaining about the process, other candidates, the RO etc is not good use of your time. You’re far better off getting on the phone and canvassing some more members.

    As far as the BME representation is concerned, it’s disappointing but entirely predictable – and nothing to do with racism.

    The BME candidates who did stand were something of a mixed bag. There were some experienced, capable candidates (eg Wayne Hoban) who didn’t seem to put up much of a campaign. Meral Ece could have been an effective candidate, but where was her campaign? We didn’t hear a thing from her in my part of London, nor did friends I spoke to elsewhere. If you don’t run a strong selection campaign, it leads to the suspicion your campaign won’t be all that hot in the election itself. Unfair maybe, but that’s how members will react.

    There are also some other very promising newcomers (Shas Sheehan, Merlene Emerson, James Allie, Ajmal Masroor) who worked hard but started too late and didn’t (yet) have a big enough profile. I hope they keep at it – with the same intensity – in which case they will be well placed for future selections (not just for the GLA).

    Sadly some of our most capable, promising & effective BME candidates didn’t stand. I have no doubt that someone like Munira Hassam, for example, would have finished in the top 5, if she’d stood.

    Finally, we have a Mayoral selection and Euro selections coming up. Since hard work and having a good campaign team are the 2 biggest controllable factors in winning a selection, perhaps some of the people on here who’ve been complaining might think about putting their money (or rather time & effort) where their mouth is, and help back a strong BME candidate for each.

    I gather we had a rather good dynamic, young, female, BME candidate apply for the Mayoral selection and is likely to apply again …

  • Most London members DO NOT live in South West London.

    Two of the top three candidates selected ARE NOT from South West London.

    Nor was Lynne Featherstone when she topped the list – in fact she wasn’t even from south of the river.

    The detailed figures show that there was NO clear block voting for South West London candidates.

    If we are to make progress on this can we at least base the debate on facts not myths.

    One thing that has come through very cleary to me from many of the comments is that there is a difference of understanding in what it takes to win internal party selection contests.

    A number of the BME candidates and their supporters who have commented talk a lot about the hard work they have done for the party and their communities over many years, but in my experience this is not enough, in itself, to win interbal selection contests. It also takes a highly organised campaign to get the candidate across to large numbers fo members across London that starts years out from the selection and includes an intensive campaign during the selection period itself.

    To those who claim they didn’t know the timing of the selection contest I think you are missing the point. Everyone knew we would be selecting candidates for the GLA ever since the last GLA selection. The point is that serious candidates needed to start their campaigning then – not wait until the formal selection period.

    61 – James – I want to see a more representative list AND fairness. I am glad the top places are gender balanced and balanced in terms of Tory and Labour areas, both concerns that have been expressed previously.

    72 – Duncan – various proposals have been floated at various times but for whatever reason didn’t come about. One suggestion was that at least the best four GLA constituency seats should have been selected well before the list. I certainly agree that just running the SW constituency before the list could have had an impact the result, but then the same effect could also work the other way round.

  • Liberal on the side 2nd Jun '07 - 11:33am

    The way the party is going come the elections I wonder if we will secure even 2 seats never mind 5. really making a big issue of it and does have massive influence over the BME electorate.

    I’m not one of her fans but have to agree that Caroline has worked hard to get where she is. She is rather ruthless in her game and has knocked a few faces out of joint but so have many others. But she did have Dominic Mathon to plan her whole campaign. He’s a network master

    We have to face facts that the majority of members want to avoid the BME issue hoping it will go away.

    Dominic Mathon is on the London Region campaigns committee and a ruthless campaigner. With so many BME candidates it would have been better for him to use his skills and support one of them.

    I understand he is the President of Islington’s local party but he deliberately campaigned against the Islington base candidate Meral Ece rather than support her. Actually went to the extent of canvassing the members and her co-councillors on Caroline’s behalf.

    That is disgraceful. What kind of example does that set. Now that just shows a persons true feelings about the matter. By his action he is suggesting that Carolyn is superior over Meral

    As for the suggestion that BME candidates don’t campaign. It is not true but most get frozen out or isolated specially it the have any real cultural background. Nasser Butt is one of them. He gets up everybodies nose but talk about grafting. For over 16 years. I’m not one of his fans either but it is about time somebody with the key skills helped him.

    I expect others will suddenly quote other BME ‘stars’and several councillors but they are most second generation and intergrated in the community often with British partners (some ex) and no ‘real’ cultural ties except holidays abroad.

  • Dominic Mathon 2nd Jun '07 - 11:52am

    In response to “Liberal on the side” I can assure you that I did not campaign against Meral Ece or any other candidate. In fact I gave Meral a high preference.

    But I did campaign for Caroline Pidgeon. I think she’s the strongest candidate. Simple as that. If you thought there was a better candidate, the onus was on you to campaign for them rather than criticising me for my choice.

    I’m delighted that Caroline did so well but you do her a disservice if you imply that her success was down to anything other than her skills, personality and hard work.

    Caroline had around 40 people on her team from right across London. I was just one of those and many did more than me. It’s a tribute to Caroline that she was able to pull together that group of people and that they were so motivated to campaign for her.

  • 96. Stephen, as I don’t know which part of London you’re from, can’t answer why you didn’t recieve information about my campaign. My focus was mainly on the North/ North East of London, where I’m based and have a profile.I had around 10 people ringing around for me across London. No I didn’t plan my campaign with military precision, and start recruiting 50 people over the last year, and couldn’t get round to every event across London. I make no apologies for that.
    Dominic: your comments that I would be better off focussing on my ward In Islington,(rather than the GLA), are still ringing in my ears. No doubt you did ruthlessly target Islington. BTW, just loved all the photos you took of Caroline draped over Newington Green, the heart of my ward. Very funny. Got me a lot of support in Islington.
    I wish Caroline and others all the best, and I look forward to seeing her campaigning to help us win in Islington South, the most marginal seat in London, where we spectacularly failed last time despite
    your skills as a ‘ruthless campaigner’ Perhaps you can now use these skills against Labour.

  • Eleanor Hodges 2nd Jun '07 - 12:42pm

    If people added the time spent reading and writing on this website – they could have delivered a round or three of leaflets in one of three of the by-elections taking place in London at the moment. Stop fighting each other and fight the opposition for change.

    I’m off to help in Hanworth Park – anybody care to join?

  • Dominic Mathon 2nd Jun '07 - 1:39pm

    Meral – re the comment about your ward, you are misquoting me or misunderstood what I said, but we can take this offline.

    There were rather a lot of photos on Caroline’s website – from every borough in London. I’m glad you liked at least one of them 🙂

  • Rob: This has been quite cathartic for some us us who’ve been through a very unpleasant campaign.
    Feel relieved its all over.
    Dominic, yeah take it off line, and wish you all the best in your new found career as ‘campaigning photographer’
    BTW – Newington Green is not in Hackney!

  • Disappointed of East London 2nd Jun '07 - 2:44pm

    What a disappointing set of results. This is one of the most diverse cities in the world. We have a long way to go if we claim to represent that diversity. I hope this is a wake-up call.

  • Tony Greaves 2nd Jun '07 - 2:59pm

    I see no-one has taken a blind bit of notice of my comment! (Number 86 for anyone who is interested).

    There are certainly times for public debate about our party (I of all people would never deny that).

    This is not it on this topic. If you won’t come to cix at least go somewhere a bit more private – for all our sakes.

  • Dominic,

    I am afraid that with your close association with Islington, you could have had the courtesy to have spoken and explained your position to Meral before or even during the process. In fact, you did not and many believe that you were part of the whispering campaign against Meral.

    On many occassions you have talked about helping BME candidates and is this the way you do it? Or do you get others to do it for you?

    Finally, I am afraid to say that all of the hot air can’t take away from the fact that the Party has not stomach, no leadership on this matter and the usual whinings that things will get better on BME representation. And the usual addage is that BME candidates need to ‘get around’ and don’t campaign etc. The usual excuses that mask an inability to do something pro-actively to resolve the situation. If this continues, the Party will get swift justice in the ballot boxes and a wipe out from a resurgent Tory and Labour Party that look like Governments or Governments in waiting. Unfortunately, the LD’s looks like out of sync, out of touch and blowing hot air with the usual ‘ I know a black and brown candidate.’

  • Dominic Mathon 2nd Jun '07 - 4:48pm

    Well “anonanon” there are a number of misconceptions in your posting but if you want to talk about them further, please email me. I can’t email you as you’re, ahem, anon (anon)!

    For my part, I have and continue to help out a number of BME candidates (as well as a number from all backgrounds) in approval and selection processes, but for the GLA campaign I don’t think it’s any secret that I was helping Caroline’s campaign.

    I’m a volunteer, I’m entitled to make that choice.

    Did you help out anyone’s campaign “anonanon”?

  • Lois Norton 2nd Jun '07 - 5:06pm

    Nasser Butt said

    ‘I advise you to re-read Merel’s response and see my 15 years work for the Party on

    So I went to look at the site….

    Under Construction

    The site you are trying to view does not currently have a default page. It may be in the process of being upgraded and configured.

    Please try this site again later. If you still experience the problem, try contacting the Web site administrator.


    Nasser – don’t you think it might be a good idea if visitors to your site could actually view some useful content backing up your claims?

  • Lib Dem member 2nd Jun '07 - 6:01pm

    To all those who were candidates and who have said in this thread they were hard done by I say, “sorry, but I hardly saw or know any of you”.

    Maybe you all went to lots of by-elections, conferences, local party meetings etc etc and our paths have never crossed.

    I don’t get round London that much so that might be the case.

    On the other hand …….. maybe the lesson to draw from that is that you should have worked harder for longer on your selection campaigns? (Meral in particular said that she had a build up a team of ten, which sounds very small to me for an election across all of London).

    I hope you don’t mind me saying that, because it is said with the best of intentions – you CAN win selections, just look at the people who used to be nobodies in the party, worked hard and have done so.

  • Lois Norton 2nd Jun '07 - 6:15pm

    It works here too – now.

  • Bridget Fox 2nd Jun '07 - 6:50pm

    I am surprised and disappointed that we did not have more BEM candidates further up the list. I gave top preference to Meral and a high preferece to Wayne because I know & respect them, and a fairly high one to Ajmal whom I’ve never met because I thought his campaign material looked excellent. But I would not vote for someone *just* because they are BEM anymore than I would expect someone to vote for me *just* because I am a woman. It’s too soon for OBV or anyone else to judge the whole package with constituency candidates and of course the Mayoral yet to select. Farhana for Mayor!
    There is a growing issue about the inevitable bias that comes in London-wide member ballots; inner London has poorer residents with a higher turnover and less of a participatory civic culture than the suburbs. This means that we simply don’t have the large numbers of armchair members on direct debit that outer London boroughs enjoy. But we do have a very high percentage of our members ‘activated’ in a way other local parties might envy.
    I don’t believe in restricting the franchise but it continues to be a difficult issue for us.
    One solution would be to ask candidates to choose between the list and GLA constituencies. I love Stephen dearly but if he was not doing both there would have been room for more on the list.


    PS I still don’t know who Daniel Bowen is, but if he exists and is interested in doing something constructive he is welcome to join Meral, me & others at our weekly recruitment sessions in Islington. I won’t hold my breath.

  • Nasser Butt 2nd Jun '07 - 8:39pm

    Lois – Try and get a better ISP provider for yourself. The site works OK for others and has been working for two years!

  • Duncan “One tactical error I made was to stop phone calls to members.”

    I had a call from your campaign and you got my vote Duncan. Followed by Caroline. I voted for the candidates whose campaigns made the effort to contact me (I don’t in this count the tremedous barrage of e-mails which I found quite annoying).

  • Nasser Butt 2nd Jun '07 - 9:02pm

    Mark – You have said what I said. You and Simon together are responsible for the final motion that was the most useless an vague set of promises. Tell what has been delivered on it so far? Let me guess.. well you never actually promised anything to deliver did you?

    You quote Section 2 of the Rules, these are the list of Authorities of the rules. nothing to do with BME candidates. look again, the provision is not there any more.

  • Nasser Butt 2nd Jun '07 - 9:26pm

    Dominic – was it you or Caroline that put up Columba from Southwark to call me to persuade me to withdraw my name from standing against Caroline in Southwark and Lambath?

    I found it amusing, I know its competitive business I but have to say if its true than it didn’t look good.

  • Real Liberal 2nd Jun '07 - 9:38pm

    Time to join the Conservatives, if you truly believe in democracy and liberalism

  • Hywel Morgan 2nd Jun '07 - 9:46pm

    “This is not it on this topic. If you won’t come to cix at least go somewhere a bit more private – for all our sakes.”

    When Tony Greaves says a row should be in private – it REALLY should be in private

    Please do as he says – it will take about 5 minutes with your party membership to register for the private forum

  • Dominic Mathon 2nd Jun '07 - 9:50pm

    Nasser – happy to respond in the private forum as Hywel suggests.

  • 67. Nasser: nice to see you using Margaret Hodge’s word “indigenous”. Really helpful, and makes me all the gladder I chose BME candidates other than you to vote for.

    69. Tony: I don’t know what I did wrong but I didn’t get a single phone call! Emails were the only communication I had apart from the manifesto book.

    Frankly, I don’t imagine that the make-up of this list will make any difference to our electoral chances (as 82. Andy says). Your average voter takes no interest at all in who the candidates for the list are – it’s just a cross next to “Liberal Democrats”.

    77. Meral: Why exactly is it that BME Londoners wouldn’t vote for us if we’re fielding white candidates? Are you suggesting they’re racist? Or that colour should be the most important element in a vote? Why would having one Afro-Caribbean candidate at the top of the list suddenly make the list more appealing to someone Turkish or Chinese? Why is no-one complaining that we don’t have an openly gay candidate near the top of the list for gay people to vote for? If Lynne Featherstone – despite being white – can see BME Londoners voting for her, why does the list have to have token BME candidates? (All of this I ask from a devil’s advocate point of view as I’d have liked to have seen more BME candidates on the list and higher up.)

    96. Stephen: What he said, and more temperately than I’ve managed.

    What may have been the case – and I’d have to look at the figures – is lots of members decided they wanted a BME candidate near the top of the list and gave one a first preference, but that this effect was split between so many BME candidates. I was happy to vote for some BME candidates who impressed me, but I’m not prepared to make ethnicity the principle informant of my decision or to vote for substandard candidates just to appear more representative.

  • Julian T: Why should BME Londoners vote for a party that does not look representative? I’ve just come home on the tube through Central London, and the diversity and cosmopolitan make up of Londoners is amazing. It would be like getting on a carriage full of all white men, while all the other carriages are mixed.
    Why wouldn’t you vote for Parties that are making the effort to look and reflect the wider communities?
    I wouldn’t expect anyone to vote purely on ethnicity or gender. What has been an eye opener are some of the comments suggesting that us folk from a BME background are ‘less organised, of lower calibre, ran unimpressive campaigns etc’ All this is irrelevant now.
    With 2 BME PPCs selected so far in ‘winnable’ seats, despite the so-called diversity fund, the scale of the problem becomes apparent.

  • Nasser Butt 3rd Jun '07 - 1:39pm

    To Real Liberal: – Tories are even Worse. At least some of them have left the Tory Party and joined the Lib Dem and ARE trying to become Liberal!

    JulianT – you will get your answers to Meral if you go and talk to BME voters and ask their views? There is 40% of these Voters in London.

    Ed / Mark – Lib Dems has the best Democratic rules compared to other Parties. But sadly these rules are being administered by people. People if determined will corrupt whatever they touch and Liberals are also people and are no exception to this disease. Our rules can be good but if the individual RO or Selection Panels or Members wish to show their personal prejudices in applying these rules than they can do, invariably do do and nothing can stop this kind of corruption. It happens all of the time!

  • Erlend Watson 3rd Jun '07 - 5:37pm

    Nasser (129) that comment must be very close to the libel law on the RO for London. I suggest that conversations not continue in this vein.


  • Rabi Martins 4th Jun '07 - 1:27pm


    I for one am pleased Operatoion Black Vote and others have criticised us so publicly for going into the GLA election with no prospect of ethnic minority representation within its ranks.

    Simon Hughes worked closely with Simon Wooley of OBV and gave him assuarnces that the Party was going to address the ethnic deficit. We failed to deliver on this promise

    It is a shame that we have gifted opposition a perfect retort when Liberal Democrats claim to be the Party of equality.

    In politics – as in life generally – Perception is Everything

    And I fear our Party will not be perceived well in Londonwhere Equality and Community Cohesion is a big big issue

    And a message for Tony Greaves

    Tony – we have tried the quite private discussion and played the Party game by handling this issue with kid gloves long enough

    And it has got us nowhere. Perhaps this public debate will amke the Party at large sit up and take notice

  • How many gay candidates do we have? None, from looking at the list. But I could be wrong. London’s LGBT population is estimated to be 8-10% of the total population.

  • Radical Liberal 4th Jun '07 - 2:29pm

    Some members have said its ‘a very good list’ -well yes it is if we only want votes in the coming years (GLA, Local & General) from our own membership and core supporter base. I was under the impression we were a bit more ambitious than that. Maybe I’m wrong and we’re happy to keep the London Lib Dems as a cosy middle class elite club.
    How do we campaign in inner city areas with this present lot!
    Jon: totally agree about lack of openly gay people; another important constituency in London that we’re ignoring.

  • 134 How do we campaign in inner city areas with this present lot!

    Well having the top candidate from Lambeth and the third from Southwark for a start.

    We had white candidates last time and increased our vote strongly, and most in inner city areas, presumably because many voters, black or white, vote on the basis of policies rather than the colour of the candidates’ skins.

  • @Nasser & Lois; the issue with Nasser’s site wasn’t the site itself but hte way he wrote the first link; he linked to “” whihc resolved to “*.com./” which gave the weird not found page provided by his host; got the same thing. Removing the full stop from the url gets you to the right site, and I was greeted byt the site itself; a site which really knocks into me that there’s a dearth of usability types in political website firms.

    @ the debate in hand, um, yeah, I’m glad I didn’t have a vote now (newish member and moved to London after the campaign started). Not good at all.

    I don’t suppose there’s any chance we could get the electoral system changed to STV by the nexttime wehave to go thorugh it, so that we don’t have London wide lists and instead can have a representative slate in each consitutency? That’d solve more problems than public b!tching.

    Although I do agree with Rob et al that some of it needs to be said. Tony; there’s no way I, and a lot of others, are going to sign up and /pay/ for CIX membership, I’d suggest stop flogging a dead horse and move on. But party members can (and should) join the forum here where there’s a reasonable set of threads.

  • How much investment has gone into supporting training and mentoring or under-represented groups in recent years? Has it increased or not?

    What contribution from central funds did WLD, EMLD, DELGA and CGB get this year to support the work everyone above seems to advocate? Is this a cause the party wishe to invest in or not – looks like a lot of empty promises at conference and no follow-up or worse, active but quiet opposition from the powers that be.

  • Anon: Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats (EMLD) gets nothing from the Party.

  • Radical Liberal 4th Jun '07 - 7:36pm

    Neil: I thought we lost control and seats in Lambeth last year, and just about held on In Southwark.

  • Hywel Morgan 4th Jun '07 - 8:08pm

    There is a perfectly good private forum to discuss this open to all Lib Dem members.

    I’ll assume that those who post their attacks in public are keener to damage the party than propose practical solutions – just in case you wonder why I don’t vote for you next time.

  • nigelashton 4th Jun '07 - 11:13pm

    I don’t think its necessarily harmful having this discussion here rather than in private. It’s not giving away sensitive information like what our targeting strategy is going to be.

  • Angel – just caught up with your comments

    Just one thing puzzles me with your praise for the success that GBTF achieved with women candidates..

    Why have they not succeeded in doing the same for any ethnic minority women????

    The problem I am afarid is a lot deeper than you seem to want to acknowledge

  • We run Southwark with the Conservatives. Gainining the Lambeth and Southwark seat is, sadly, wishful thinking on our part.

  • Meral: re budgets – the point precisely. The EMETF didn’t get the autonomous funding or status for this kind of work despite warm words and an initial conference motion to move it on. James Graham makes salient points about this very matter on his blog as does Mark Valladares.

    Rabi: the CGB have worked with lots of BME women – the reality is they have faced internal opposition for years, and have never had budget security or enough budget to plan into the long term. Do you not realise that those with genuine grievances about the party’s behaviour in this area are too numberous to mention and encompass all of the under-represented groups. So perhaps there is strength in numbers. Unpalatable as it may be to some, have a joint meeting, and put forward a joint strategy to Conference, and then all make it very public when the ‘powers that be’ renege or lie or deny the funding they promise at conference. Lobby the FE and the FFAC – as James points out our targeting strategy that gets all of the fundig through campaigns at the moment is short termist. It does no more than progress a few seats and candidates who are there at the moment – if we are to build for the future we need to move forward the next generation of candidates and invest.

    To be fair it would be nice to have a report on what the so called diversity report that should have reported under Hughes a year ago has been doing? Also on what Mr Hitchens has done with his budget and who he’s consulted to spend it.

    Please in the meantime start holding those in elected positions to account, and challenge them to move the issue on, and invest in it, regardless of what staff think.

  • Rabi Martins 5th Jun '07 - 12:58pm

    I agree that perhaps our only chance of winning this equality in representation battle (although I am not sure who we are fighting!) would be to join forces and go public with our campaign

    Why not take the lead and get all interested Parties together ASAP ?

    I am happy to host it in Watford

    Also happy to engage with anyone who would rather have a private dialogue via email

    [email protected]

  • Mark -I know you’ve worked hard on this and the constant headbanging is frustrating and demoralising. But do you have any constructive suggestions? Surely a meeting which has never happened before of all interested under-represented groups would at least be identifying common ground? And clearly every under represented group suffers from the same lack of resources/failure of promises etc etc, which would at least provide a common starting point, and a common outcome is evident? Please for once let’s have a discussion with the groups involved all around a table. It can’t hurt and it’ll put the fear of god into those who constantly use divide and conquer to spread division and fear between us all.

  • Radical Liberal 5th Jun '07 - 3:45pm

    For those that keep bleating that the Party is somehow being damaged by open and democratic debate, wake up and smell the coffee. Hand wringing and private introverted chats are not going to deliver votes for the Liberal Democrats. We do not live in a parallel all white middle class world in London. As someone else observed, we’ll be lucky to get 2 GLA seats next year.

  • Lib Dem Campaigner 5th Jun '07 - 4:11pm

    And what has the Party come up since the fiasco of the GLA results in the last few days. A timid press release whilst as Meral suggests there has been much hand ringing.

    On top of this groups like the Ethnic Minority Election Task Force have been more centred around the honours and peerages that individuals have wanted and have done little to change things at a ground level.

    It is time that the Party get a grip and empower able and capable individuals to put action plans into effect that help to change a culture of suspicion around Black candidates. That time has come otherwise are we not part of the problem instead of the solution

  • Cllr in West London 5th Jun '07 - 4:19pm

    Meral – you are the best!

  • Cllr in West London 5th Jun '07 - 4:22pm

    I spoke to a number of ethnic minority candidates who were very credible and able.

  • Lib Dem Campaigner

    You are so wrong about the Ethnic Minority Election Task Force.

    It was EMETF that extracted a public pledge from Ming (and the other leadership contenders)that urgent practical steps would be taken to address the ethnic deficit. Unfortnately the excusion of that pledge has not lived up to the expectation created.

    The special diversity fund seems to have been hi-jacked by Steve Hitchins who has decided he has other plans for it

    EMETF also solicited support from the PCA to progress the selection of BME PPCs in winnable seats. The results here too have been disappointing

    True EMETF did not focus on the GLA elections – partly because we thought our strong active BME councillors were well placed to win through -because they would get the support they deserved

    We now know that was misplaced trust

    Ah well – we live and learn !!!

  • Mark

    Desperate times call for desperate measures …

    Options that come to mind are

    *** Persuade potential BME candidates to refrain from putting their names forward
    *** Persuade BME members to stay at home and watch televison rather than go out and sell the Party and recruit more members
    *** Advice talented / capable EM members to take overtures from other Parties seriously
    *** Keep up the fight within the Party until the leadership and the Party at large accept that only positive action will result in the Party getting BME candidates into winnable seats – in local and national elections

    >>> There must be other options that the great and good out there can suggest

    But someone better come up with a solution that will work and do it quick

    Otherwise we are in for some nasty surprises in forthcoming local and national elections as voters ask ” so where are the ethnic minority role models within the Liberal Democrats .. One MEP .. Two Peers … and????????????????

  • tony.ferguson 5th Jun '07 - 8:19pm

    I have no axe to grind on this one not being from London and not knowing most of the candidates. However, I went to the following link

    Nothing personal Nasser but can I suggest a serious revamp for your website?

    Much of what is there does not make sense, reads poorly or has grammatical and typing/spelling mistakes. If that was the basis of my decision you would have done well to have come 12th!

    I will say that elsewhere in your site e.g. I found better evidence of why you might make a better candidate but the front page was terrible

  • The London selection was none of Ming’s business.

    Ironically, given the irony you intended Rabi, if fewer BME candidates had put themselves forward, one of them may have done better because those like me who would ilke to have seen a good BME candidate in the top five could have pooled their votes more effectivelty.

    Earlier you suggested every underrepresented group getting together. Part of the problem with that is, with a selection like this, a black man pushing out a white woman and throwing gender balance; or a gay woman pushing out an Asian man and ruining ethnic balance. How can you get every underrepresented group represented? The different groups are in competition.

  • Lib Dem member 5th Jun '07 - 9:23pm

    Several people (including myself) have suggested – perhaps too politely and modestly – that the reason BME candidates did not do better is that they did not run good selection campaigns. BME candidates seem to have left it until very late before starting to campaign, unlike both Caroline Pigeon and Jeremy Ambache. I hardly saw any signs of BME candidates out campaigning for my vote, but I saw plenty of both of them.

    I wonder if any of the BME candidates who did not finish near the top of the list think their own campaigns are to blame? If you do, who do you think has the responsibility for that?

    It would be a shame if no-one is making an honest appreciation of the good and bad points of their own campaign in the (perhaps understandable?) apparent rush to blame other people.

    We are all liberals. We should have in common a belief that each of us can change the world by taking power into our own hands and acting. Expecting someone from on high to come down and fix all our problems is an attitude more at home with the Labour Party.

  • Hywel Morgan 5th Jun '07 - 9:27pm

    “where are the ethnic minority role models within the Liberal Democrats .. One MEP .. Two Peers … and????????????????”

    Plus one MP (Lembit) and some peers as well – Julia Neuberger and Alex Carlile at the very least!

    You seem to be equating ethnic minority with non-white which is (a) not correct and (b) becoming less relevant in community cohesion terms.

    Am I nitpicking over definitions – possibly. But if the suggestion is that a group is unrepresented and action must be taken to address that then a key early point to address is how that group is defined.

  • One last go: please do not allow the divide and conquer regime to win this battle. If you do no-one gets any resources next year and everyone will get budgets and grants cut.

    Rabi – stop feeling like you’re the only one who cares. You and EMETF have done good work but you’re not the only ones. Pool ideas, acknowledge the very valid differences. Meral – you have been a shining light for both women and BME councillors/candidates, as well as supportive of diversity matters on the FE. If you’re angry about the way under represented groups have been treated in any way – WLD your budget has been slashed, CGB likewise, DELGA – what grants and what status do you now have?, EMLD – ditto, EMETF – what space have you ever been given or resource from the party to progress your discussions. And LDDA has always been the poor relation with no support whatsoever, struggling to make an impact.

    One last serious plea….. Please please get together. Understand that you are the people who understand the issues surrounding your campaigns, and that these capaigns are legitimate and have been quietly undermined for a nuber of years by those purely concerned with swelling their own budgets and power bases. you don’t even have to all have the same approach but just do not accept the funding cuts, nor the patronising attitude that somehow it’s either ‘all your fault’ or that ‘your campaign isn’t a proper campaign’. Your campaigns are all valid – and any Liberal who attempts to deny it is no Liberal. The debate must not be about your validity – each and every one of the under-represented groups – but about the best mechanism to move forward – and this should be free from discussions about funding. If the party prioritises these campaigns as real and relevant then the funding is there.

    But please work together.

  • Tim Leunig – “…as people vote for their friends in the selection election, presumably they are more likely to work in the actual election if their friends are on the list” So there we have it, those with the most friends are more likely to win more votes in elections!
    Time to get busy on Facebook and Friends Reunited!
    Hywel: really a bit tired of this old chestnut. Rabi and others are correct about the Party’s representation. We’re not talking about skin colour. Check the last Census 2001 for details of what is classified as ethnic minority. There are 16 categories. Recording your faith is optional, and is not strictly counted or included in the BME breakdown.
    ‘White other’ and ‘Black other’, will include Eastern European, Turkish, Kurdish, Middle Eastern etc.
    A few boroughs with significant BME population, expected to become the majority in 5 years time:
    Hackney 52% BME; Southwark 44.7% BME; Lambeth 48% BME; Islington 37.6%. These figures don’t include White Irish populations. Largest Black African communities – Lambeth, Lewisham, Hackney, Brent.
    Is is any surprise the Labour Dep Leadership contenders are actually debating all Black lists? (I’m told Gordon Brown is looking favourably at these)Is it any wonder that respected MPs like Sadiq Khan are asking for seats like Streatham to select Black candidates?
    This is not some idealogical debate, its real politik – winning elections! How many of our local parties reflect their communities?
    Not saying I support all Black lists or its the answer, but can we join other Parties and have our own serious debate on how to address the chronic deficit in democracy, rather than navel gazing, and petty point scoring!
    This doesn’t include the many colleagues who are already committed to a radical cultural change in the Party.

  • So how many of the candidates are gay? Nobody wants to answer this question, sadly.

  • All the BME candidates are out there. Surely its for the candidates themselves who are gay to declare this should they wish to.

  • Hywel Morgan 6th Jun '07 - 4:21pm

    Meral – I’m not quite sure what the chestnut is? Ethnic origin is a complicated issue and to rely on the census groups is a very blunt tool – eg someone from white South African or Ugandan Asian heritage might regard themselves as African.

    In my view it can only be resolved by a question of self definition rather than forcing people into particular boxes – something which created controversy at the last census with a number of groups.

    Indeed that loose approach is reflected by both the CRE:

    “Someone who is said to belong to an ‘ethnic minority’ is therefore anyone who would tick any box other than ‘White British’ box in response to an ethnicity question on a census form.”

    The Courts seem to take a similarly open view

    “The House of Lords has provided a definition of ‘ethnic group’ as a group that regards itself, or is regarded by others, as a distinct community by virtue of certain characteristics that will help to distinguish the group from the surrounding community. Two of these characteristics are essential:
    * A long shared history, of which the group is conscious as distinguishing it from other groups, and the memory of which it keeps alive; and
    * A cultural tradition of its own, including family and social customs and manners, often but not necessarily associated with religious observance.”
    (as a result of which Jewish people are regarded as an ethnic minority protected by the RRA etc)

    I don’t know which boxes the individuals referred to above ticked in their census returns but there is a reasonable case that it would have been open to them to do so. Indeed I might have done so myself as a minor protest against the abscence of categories for Welsh and Scottish ethnic origins on the census form. Under the CRE definition I would be regarded as an ethnic minority – though I’m not attempting to assert that!

    Under both those defintions I reckon saying we have no ethnic minority MPs is at least arguably incorrect.

    That is though really academic. We are still not a situation that portrays us as a party reflective of the wider UK.

    However it is relevant where the issue under discussion is should there be some sort of affirmative action for ethnic minority candidates. In that case it is important that the group be clearly definable.

    To put it in practical terms. If we were to “reserve” one of the top four places on the GLA list for an ethnic minority candidate we could have ended up with EXACTLY the same list if (hypothetically) Dee Doocey were to define herself as White Irish which may be the case as suggested above.

    Making something that is legally sound, robust and workable is far from easy. If that is to be based on self definition then fine – but beware the law of unintended consequences!

  • Jeremy Sanders 6th Jun '07 - 5:57pm

    I don’t want to get into question of how to define BME, but on a simply factual basis, “White – Irish” is regarded as a separate ethnic group for census purposes – and certainly not simply on the basis of nationality or place of birth. To quote the Commission for Racial Equality’s website, “Someone who is said to belong to an ‘ethnic minority’ is therefore anyone who would tick any box other than ‘White British’ box in response to an ethnicity question on a census form”.

    Other than possibly in terms of language, it’s difficult to see the Irish communities in Britain fulfill the criteria any less than (say) Polish, Portuguese or Greek communities, and have probably suffered at least equal levels of discrimination and disadvantage over the years.

    It’s still not so long ago that “No blacks. No Irish” was a sign sometimes seen outside hotels.

  • So now we see that LibDem activists are now racist because ethnic minorities are not included in the GLA election list.

    Why select someone from ethnic minorities if they are not up to standard? Take a look at my local authority in Hounslow, where the Labour Party has selected a huge number of candidates from the ethnic minorities who became elected. They are all quiet, ineffectual yes men on the surface, and most of them are doing back door favours in return for favours returned by their constituents. A prime example of this is Sidhu Dairies, a Sikh-owned dairy situated in the area that exists in filthy conditions, where unsold and stale milk is thrown back into the system. This dairy has been protected by these corrupt ‘minority’ Labour councils. It’s all business to them.

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