HISTORIC: Britain’s first four black MPs – Paul Boateng, Bernie Grant, Keith Vaz and Diane Abbott – pictured here in 1987
A GROUP of Labour councillors and party activists are calling for radical reforms of the candidate selection process after a damning report revealed “shameful” under-representation of black candidates in their party.
The recently-formed Labour Black Network (LBN) has made submissions to party chiefs, highlighting the study and proposing a set of recommendations.
According to the One Nation Labour, Black Representation Across The Party report, referred to by Guardian journalist Hugh Muir as a “sad” document, there would have to be 36 black MPs for parliament to be representative of the black British population.
However, the reality is that the number has risen from three in 1986 to only eight today - five of which are Labour MPs.
Writing in the foreword, Diane Abbott MP noted: “If you had told me that, 26 years later, the numbers of African and Afro-Caribbean Labour members of parliament would scarcely be any greater, I would have been shocked.”
LBN executive member, councillor Patrick Vernon, said: “Black candidates are facing many barriers - including a lack of financing and transparency, obstruction, bullying and intimidation.”
Among the recommendations made by the group, is a diversity fund to support black candidates, targets for BME representation at all levels, including staffing and opening candidate selection to the public in areas with a high black population.