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Black candidates face 'ethnic penalty' in elections

ETHNIC ELECTORAL PENALTY: Diane Abbott, centre, became the first black woman elected to Parliament in 1987

BLACK CANDIDATES in elections receive lower shares of the vote compared to their white peers, an investigation has revealed.

The figures have been uncovered as part of an analysis into racial bias in the UK.

According to research by The Guardian, political candidates in the Conservative party can face a particular disadvantage that can result in them only being selected to contest safe seats.

Oxford University professor Stephen Fisher, who conducted the analysis, discovered that last year, in seats where the Conservative party put forward ethnic minority candidates in constituency where they had not in 2015, their share of the vote increased by 1.6 points. This figure was represented a considerably lower increase than the national average of 5.2 points.

When this was reversed and white Conservative candidates campaigned for seats that an ethnic minority candidate was fielded for in 2015, the party’s share of the vote increased by 6.5 points.

The figures suggest an “3.6 point ethnic penalty”, according to Fisher.

To address the poor election performance of ethnic minority candidates, campaigners have called for all-minority shortlists and for selection panels to become more diverse.

Claudia Webbe, a member of Labour’s national executive committee, is among those who back the proposals for all-minority shortlists.

She told The Guardian: “We need legislative change, but we also have to address the makeup of select panels. If they are all-white, it can be argued that there is unwitting and unconscious bias.

“If you have a selection panel that is all white they are likely to recruit a white candidate. You have to make sure that the processes and the selection panels are equally diverse.”

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