The ethnic diversity of parliament looks likely to stall as the number of new BAME MPs looks set to drop dramatically after the forthcoming general election according to new research.
Independent think tank British Future said that both Conservative and Labour parties have selected fewer candidates from minority backgrounds.
Both main parties selected minority candidates at less than half the rate seen in the last two elections – meaning that for the first time ever, the new intakes of Labour and Tory MPs will be less diverse than the parliamentary parties that they join.
The British Future analysis of the candidate selections shows that both the Conservative and Labour parties selected less black, Asian and mixed-race candidates in winnable seats than they did in 2010 or 2015.
Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, said:
“The diversity of parliament, while it still lags behind that of our society, has been increasing rapidly in recent elections. But it now looks set to stall.
“Black, Asian and mixed-race candidates are being selected at less than half the rate seen in the last two elections. For the first time, the new intakes of Labour and Tory MPs will be less diverse than the parliamentary parties that they join.”
Katwala continued: “In an increasingly diverse Britain, we would expect the rate at which ethnic minority candidates are selected to be rising, not falling. Parties will need to take action if we’re to have a parliament that looks more like the nation it serves.”
The analysis found just two Conservative candidates from a minority background in its 120 most ‘winnable’ seats – where a sitting Tory MP is standing down, has changed party or lost the whip, or where the Conservatives are hoping to overturn a majority of 15 per cent or less from second place.
The Conservatives’ current BAME selection rate of 2 per cent compares to a 6 per cent selection rate in 2017.
The Conservatives have made selections in 56 of the 81 seats where they are hoping to overturn a majority of 15 per cent or less from second place – only one of the candidates selected in these 56 seats, Mohamed Y Ali in Cardiff North, is from a BAME background.
The party has also made selections in 7 of the 18 seats where a Tory MP is standing down or has changed party, just one of which is from a BAME background – Darren Henry, who is hoping to win Broxtowe from Anna Soubry.
Of the 21 constituencies where a ‘rebel’ Tory MP recently lost the whip, just one (white) candidate has been selected.
For Labour there are seven BAME candidates in its 119 most winnable seats where a sitting Labour MP is standing down or has changed party, or where Labour is hoping to overturn a majority of 15 per cent or less from second place.
Labour’s current BAME selection rate of 6 per cent compares to 19 per cent at the 2017 General Election and 15 per cent in 2015.
The Lib Dems have stepped up their BAME candidate selection, with seven candidates from a minority background standing in target seats, where a sitting LibDem has stood down or via defection from another party.
Just one Lib Dem MP from a minority background was elected to the 2017 parliament, Layla Moran in Oxford West and Abingdon, but the party’s ranks have recently been swelled by the recent defections of Sam Gyimah and Chuka Umunna.
A British Future spokesperson said: “Both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have spoken about wanting to lead parties that look like modern Britain. They need to ask why progress is going backwards on their watch at a time when British society is becoming more diverse.”