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Tension in Labour over all-women party shortlists

TENSIONS: Concerns have been raised about all-women shortlists as the Labour Party seeks to replace Chuka Umunna

SOME MEMBERS of the Labour Party have raised concerns that all-women shortlists are preventing more black and minority ethnic men from becoming MPs, according to reports.

The shortlists, a positive discrimination practice that aim to increase the number of female MPs, are the source of new tensions within the Labour Party as members look to decide who will replace Chuka Umunna, BuzzFeed News has reported.

Umunna left the party in February to join establish The Independent Group, which he is now the spokesman of.

His departure means that Labour has just three black male MPs, Mark Hendrick, Clive Lewis and David Lammy.

There is a debate over whether Umunna’s successor should be selected from an all-women shortlist or an open shortlist, which could mean a candidate that better represents the racial diversity of the constituency of Streatham is chosen.

One unnamed member told BuzzFeed News: "Given the appalling lack of Labour MPs from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds in particular, it should be the aim of the Labour Party to encourage BAME PPCs to come forward to represent this area rather than automatically banning one half of that cohort on the basis of gender."

While a spokesperson for Labour’s Women’s Network told the publication: “Undermining all-women shortlists (AWS) is not the best way to advance other areas of representation. AWS are an extremely effective and legal method of positive action - Labour should defend and extend them.”

Support for an all-women shortlist has come from the Streatham Constituency Labour Party, but the NEC, Labour’s ruling body, will make the final decision on the matter.

A Labour Party spokesperson told BuzzFeed News: “The Labour Party has more women MPs and more BAME MPs than all other political parties combined and we are committed to improving diverse representation at all levels of the Party

“The party continues to work to encourage BAME candidates and following the success of the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme, we are working to establish a Bernie Grant Leadership Programme for BAME members.”

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