Tag Archives: Alderdice Report

Isabelle Parasram writes…Shall we talk about race equality?

When is it a good time to talk about race equality? 

In political organisations, as with many others, that time can often be ‘tomorrow’

With the number of fires that any organisation has to fight every day – more so with political parties – diversity issues are often last on the agenda. 

But they can’t be the last on our agenda. 

As a barrister, I was recently asked, during an interview, to name the biggest legal issues likely to impact large organisations. 

My answer surprised the interviewer. 

It wasn’t breaches of data, financial misconduct or cyber crime. 

It was: ‘…diversity and sexual impropriety…’. 

The latter is, perhaps, down to my role as Special Investigation Counsel and similar work that I carry out elsewhere. 

The former is because I believe diversity to be one of the foundational markers of a successful organisation. 

But it seems that it will always be an issue that will remain on the back burner unless it becomes a fire to fight. 

Thankfully, that is already the case with many corporate institutions who have either embraced diversity because of the enormous benefits it brings or, disappointingly, have had to do so just to meet targets. 

Either way, it has made a difference.

The reality is this. 

Take a look at how we are perceived externally (quotes taken from The Operation Black Vote BaME Local Political Representation Audit, 2019):

‘Our findings raise some fundamental questions in general about belonging, having a voice, and how political parties are failing to understand their role to ensure inclusive representative democracy. Specifically both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are both in a really poor place when it comes to their BAME councillor representation. The percentage breakdown of BAME councillors presently is: Labour 84%, Conservatives 11%, Liberal Democrats 3% and 2% other affiliations.

BAME Councillors are disproportionately affiliated with the Labour Party at 84.2%, followed by the Conservative Party at 10.9%, the Liberal Democrats at 3.1%, and 1.8% are affiliated with other parties or independents.’

I have no doubt that almost everyone in the Lib Dems sees race equality as a key issue. Perhaps some even see it as a top priority. 

This is certainly the view of Lord Alderdice, who, in his 2018 Report entitled Race, Ethnic Minorities and the Culture of the Liberal Democrats stated: 

‘… if there is to be positive change, the approach to race and ethnic minorities has to become a top priority.’

What I doubt is that we know quite what to do about it. 

I’ve spoken to local Party Chairs who have said they don’t want to get it wrong, they don’t know where to start, they don’t want to appoint a Diversity Officer out of tokenism, they don’t have the resources…

All of these comments come from people who, at their core, want to do so good a job that they aren’t actually doing it. This isn’t because they don’t care or they don’t want to care. It’s because they are hesitant to make a start and then fail at something that – broadly speaking – they really want to do well.

I’ve been asked if it’s obligatory to appoint a Local Party Diversity Officer as per my recent email to Local Party Chairs. No, it isn’t. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

We must deliver upon the Alderdice Review

Before I discuss this report I want to put it into perspective:

  • An article in the Guardian, some time ago now, stated that there were 159 seats where the winning margin in 2015 general election was lower than the number of Muslims in the constituency;
  • Of Sikhs and Muslims, over 70% of them vote Labour;
  • Newspapers reported in the elections following the Iraq war over 20% of the voters originally from Pakistan and Bangladesh voted for the Liberal Democrats and in 2010 and 2015 general elections Runnymede points to this same voting group going down to 2%;
  • In the 1960s 13% of the

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 13 Comments

Implementing Alderdice’s recommendations will make the Liberal Democrats stronger

Having joined the Liberal Democrats only around 8 weeks ago it was heartening to see that various recommendations & thoughts I expressed to Lord Alderdice in December were included in his comprehensive report. John’s enthusiasm and will to drive change with Baroness Brinton’s vision of change can be felt throughout this report.

For myself personally, it was incredibly positive to see a party that is truly looking to engage with the BAME communities. Having been the Deputy Chairman of the London Conservative Party, stood for Parliament & the GLA for them, I had almost given up hope on political parties wanting to truly engage with the needs of minority communities in the UK. However this report is the beginning of a movement which each and every one of us in our party can be a part of, and we as Liberal Democrats can be the champions of this for years to come. It makes me proud that I left the Conservatives for a party that is progressive and that wants to deal with issues head on and tackle inequality of all kinds. In order to attract the wider BAME communities to the Lib Dems practical tips such as

  • Ensuring that your local party group makes and implements a plan for engaging with race and ethnic minority communities in your area.
  • If you want to bring in young people from communities, don’t expect older community leaders to be the most suitable magnets.
  • Everyone has a contribution to make in engaging BAME communities and individuals at all levels.

have been outlined in the report. These need to be studied and examined within all of our constituency associations in order to truly build on this report and allow for its various facets to be implemented.

In addition to this i was extremely pleased my suggestion to Lord Alderdice in regards to adopting the role of Vice Chairman of the Liberal Democrat Party for BAME Communities – has been included. John understood the necessity of such a role to allow us to connect to communities all over the UK. A Vice Chair for BAME Communities would allow us as a party to engage with grassroots of various communities and give those psrticular communities a particular individual as a port of call for them to engage with. This would enable the diverse communities to build.a rapport with our party via a particular assigned individual. So when communities would like to raise issues, concerns or suggestions they have a particular person they can approach and seek assistance from. In addition, this would also allow our many local diversity champions across the country to work together more coherantly, as the Vice Chair would be someone they can approach to reach out to their various diverse communities locally. It would also assist them to share good practice, such as what is going on in Kingston, Richmond, Twickenham, Tower Hamlets, Haringey, Hackney & Sutton just to mention some. By sharing this good practice via one particular individual you are able to give it structure and allow our diversity champions to feel comfortable and guided in their somewhat current ambiguous & difficult roles.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTony Greaves 19th May - 10:09pm
    Thanks for posting this - it's reminded me to put it in my diary!
  • User AvatarMichael 1 19th May - 10:04pm
    @Jayne Mansfield Jenkins made, as one would expect from him made a very elegant argument for his system and there have been top-up systems introduced...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 19th May - 9:04pm
    @John Marriott Heseltine did mention standing as a "Conservative and National Liberal", I think, in a recent interview but it was I think more a...
  • User AvatarGlenn 19th May - 9:02pm
    The second one isn't me
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 19th May - 8:39pm
    @ Glenn, Have you started talking to yourself?
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 19th May - 8:25pm
    Good points Katharine. We should only promise what we are certain we can deliver. At the same time there has to a vision of a...