Dadabhai Naoroji

I have written here before about the case for community outreach by our Party and cited amongst other statistics results from the Ethnic Minority British Election Survey (EMBES) which showed in the 2010 elections: 68% of ethnic minorities had voted Labour, 16% Conservatives and only 14% Liberal Democrats.

To encourage local parties to do more to promote support from diverse communities, we have of course implemented various initiatives. These range from the appointment of a National Diversity Advisor for the Party in Issan Ghazni (2007-2010) and permanent staff in the Party’s Diversity Unit, to the establishment of volunteer Regional Diversity Champions across the country.

One of the biggest challenges I believe is the scale of the task having to grapple with the different strands of diversity. On the question of race however, I think we might now be able to make real strides through the creation of a new Party Award: the Naoroji Award.

Dadabhai Naoroji is probably a familiar name to those of you who are well versed in Liberal History. He was the first Asian Member of Parliament across all parties, hailing back to the year 1892, and had successfully stood on Gladstone’s Liberal platform for the constituency of Central Finsbury. In memory of the late Naoroji, an award in his name was thought up by one Cllr Rabi Martins, Vice-Chair of Ethnic Minority Lib Dems and the idea approved by the EMLD executive, Federal Executive and our Party President.

The criteria for the Judging Panel to find the local party most deserving of this award (consisting of a cash prize, a mini-shield and a larger rotating shield) include the following:

My personal reaction was to realise with dismay that as a Party we do not yet practice ethnic monitoring of our membership. Nevertheless this should not pose a monumental hurdle and will certainly help us focus more attention on the general profile of our own Party membership, be it with regard to gender, age, race/culture, disability or sexual orientation.

If you have read this far and are still interested, please note that applications are currently open, and the deadline is 31 July 2012. Submissions should be made to [email protected] at Lib Dem HQ with supporting evidence (no longer than 5 pages in length) including:

Applications are to be accompanied by a covering note from a Local Party executive member who will act as the point of contact.

I understand that decisions on successful applications will be made known to the relevant Local Party by 17th August 2012 and it is likely that presentation of the awards will take place immediately prior to the leader’s speech in the afternoon session on Wednesday 26th September 2012. All in full glare of the media.… an opportunity not to be missed?

* Merlene was co-founder of Chinese Liberal Democrats and on the executive of the LibDems Overseas. She co-edited “Rise of China – Fresh Insights and Observations” published by the Paddy Ashdown Forum (2021)