Grassroots Black Left calls on Labour to address ‘crisis of representation’ via voluntary all-black shortlists

A Labour-supporting activist group representing black and Asian left-wingers has marked Black History Month by calling on the Labour Party to increase representation of black and Asian communities by allowing constituency parties (CLPs) to nominate parliamentary selection shortlists consisting entirely of black and Asian potential candidates.

Current equalities legislation allows the mandating of all-women shortlists, but similar mandating for other protected groups are not permitted. Calling the relative lack of representation as a ‘crisis’, Grassroots Black Left, launched last year with support from MPs Clive Lewis and Chris Williamson, pointed out that all-women shortlists functionally disadvantage black women and that black men are particularly under-represented on Labour’s parliamentary benches.

A statement issued by the group reads:

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  1. I don’t normally support short lists,but on this I would be keen to see more BAME only shortlists for a move towards greater representative democracy in the Labour party….solidarity comrades

  2. I have a healthy wariness about engineered shortlists. Non-democracy is no answer to the flawed operation of democracy. In practical terms, engineered shortlists are a rigged discriminatory vote open to even greater exploitation.

    1. Yes,it should be used as a temporary measure to kickstart more minority representation and only if absolutely needed,which it may well be at the moment.The only
      minority overrepresented currently are Zionists.

      1. ‘The only
        minority overrepresented currently are Zionists.’


        …But be careful. Marc Wadsworth only asked people to ‘look around the room’ and the zionists had the pitchforks out immediately.

        Other than that, I’m against all shortlists that aren’t meritocratic.

      2. As a Jew and a non-zionist, I’d just like to remind our detractors that zionism has nothing to do with being a Jew, observant or non-observant.

        Disapproving of Israel’s atrocious and shameful treatment of Palestinians is not antisemitism. It needn’t even be antizionism, it’s just decency.

        Voluntary shortlisting = FANTASTIC!!

  3. I do not understand why according to this article women only shortlists are lawful but black only shortlists are not.

    Be that as it may there is nothing “engineered” or “rigged” about an all women or all BAME or all manual workers shortlist if that is what the Labour Party were to have democratically decided. What is important is that it should nonetheless still give members a choice of a PPC from Left, Right and Centre of the Party spectrum.

    Positive discrimination is needed. We need more women MPs and more non-white MPs in the PLP’s ranks but above all we need more working class MPs so that Labour re-emerges as an overtly partisan party of the working class. Particularly since the appalling decision to enshrine the rigged Second Referendum as Party policy, Labour has become the Party of the Middle Class.

    1. I am sceptical of all discriminatory shortlists.

      You can’t address prejudice and its resultant inequalities by institutionalising and embedding discrimnation. It’s a logical nonsense.

      In very practical terms, it’s a means of the venal to bend the system to their own interests and prejudices : as the fictional simplistic dichotomy (above) between the ‘working class’ and ‘the middle class’ vividly illustrates. Ironic from the pen of an insular middle class representative living in a 19th century fiction!

      Do get rid of that guilt complex – it’s really not progressive

      ‘Positive’ discrimination is simply ‘Discrimination that I like and that fits my particular prejudices’.

      1. P.S. Simple reality check : artificially framing the Labour Party as ‘the party’ of just the “working class” ‘ would reduce its reach by 50%+ and render it unelectable.

        … i.e. a move that would overjoy the Tories. What an idiot idea!

    2. Well said Doug! Though unnecessary to further promote the Rightwing nor Rightwing re-spun as “Centrist” & “Moderates”. Important to refer to them accurately as the Make things Worse Brigade or Keep things as they are cabal”. Furthermore their gang are already over protected, over represented, over encouraged over MSMd, uber determined, over ruthless, powerful and over us!!!

      Agree with you totally re 2nd Referendum frenzied obsession. Total disdain for our Labour members in the heartlands. Also, is the present system not positive discrimination for the pigheaded & pig-head fetishistic Tories? Whose thuggery and habitual drug-use goes unpunished while calling for more prison and harsher sentences for the people? “As things are” positively discriminates. It maintains the status quo. Fails to transform. Condemns us to chose between Tories with blue rosettes & tories with red ones. And now an upsurge of yellow tories. All full of fever to keep things the same eg re the EU. Remember Swinson’s group of women that failed to have a single woman who did not look like her??? Lets be brave and try new ideas (+ve D is not new ) without shooting it down and declaring defeat before trying. Should be renamed as Rebalancing or Refreshing or Enriching Shortlists. BtW, prepare for the noises of “people should be selected on merit”. What merit? What has been the outcome? Carillon, Body parts scandal, Grenfell, Windrush, Blair’s PFI & Iraq catastrophes, Student loans, Sale of NHS by stealth since 1990s, Looming worsening Social healthcare crisis, death of the highstreet, Housing crisis with DELIBERATE failure to build so as to keep prices up so a requirement for a healthy inclusive safe society, becomes something to trade, to hedge fund, to speculate, with resulting distress and fragmentation of communities. So even a brief overview shows in high definition that the present system of discrimination has kept better options out. The proof? Any of the catalogue of long running failures to date, where undeserved profits are privatised. And the charlatans of big banking and business plead to the taxpayers to bail out their failures after they have filched the assets of long established companies, mutual societies and public assets. If they were such experts at management, finance and business, then why don’t they appeal to like minded for bailouts and rescued??? Why must their humungous crashes & value stripping be socialised?? And rubber-stamped by a revolving door of creatures of singular mind??? Surely, LETS TRY SOMETHING NEW♏️♦️♦️♦️

      1. “Labour members in the heartlands”

        … a majority of whom voted ‘Remain’.

        Do get in touch with the nature of the Labour Party before pontificating about it.

      2. RH

        I think he’s referring to the “lifelong” Labour voters there (eg in the NE) now considering voting Tory because of Brexit, thus revealing how shallow their allegiance to the Labour cause really was.

        A sort of counter-balance to the Blairites, really! 😀

    3. Discrimination is temporarily legal for women because of the “Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002”, extended/amended by the the Equality Act 2010. PPC selection comes under employment law, as it is viewed as a sort-of preliminary stage job interview/selection.

      Labour used AWS in the 1997 general election, but a couple of men prevented from standing went to an industrial tribunal that demonstrated that the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 applied to PPC selection. So AWS was suspended until the law was amended in 2002.

      There is no similar law for all BAME shortlists, so that would be illegal. It would also need a legal definition of what a BAME person is (eg does a sixteenth BAME genetically count as BAME?).

      However if I remember correctly, the Equality Act 2010 does permit reserved BAME (or other protected group) slots on shortlists in certain circumstances, eg at least one candidate to be BAME – that might be the way to go in the short-term.

  4. What a ridiculous idea. All this says is that anyone who isn’t white and male (and presumably before too long, heterosexual) isn’t capable of winning on their own merit and so they need selections to be rigged in their favour. That is not democracy. You can have diversity or you can have the best person for the job – you can’t always have both. It’s crap like this that turns people off Labour.

    According to the most recent census, the White British category alone constitutes 89% of the population of Britain. All White groups together make up 91%. Black people make up roughly 3% of the population. Asian people make up 6%. They are already represented fairly.

    Identity politics will be the death of this party.

    1. “According to official figures released in 2018, there were 17,770 councillors in England, 373 of them Asian and 160 African Caribbean”

      That is approx. 2% Asian and approx. 1% African Caribbean – compared to “…Black people make up roughly 3% of the population. Asian people make up 6%.” Which doesn’t back-up the statement: “They are already represented fairly”

      What GBL are bringing to our attention for consideration is that if faced with two candidates from the respective categories who are ‘ as qualified as each other ’ , preference should be given to the candidate from the under-represented category.

      1. Also i expect representation drops further as far as MPs go. Would be great if you could find figures on that also. A great joy Stewart, to read someone else interested in hard evidence, rather than unthinking hackneyed / trite putdowns. It is wise to listen, read & research first, then reflect again before writing or speaking.

        Evidence that quality is shut out of senior positions is clear eg the NHS where though packed with healthcare assistants and nurses from ethnic minorities AND women, ALMOST ALL of senior post were and are still held by those who are unrepresentative of the staff. Curious that a female dominated profession like nursing, for decades had males over represented in senior posts. And black females who made up the vast majority of staff met a glass ceiling. Curiouser. No?

        It is an enduring source of bemusement that whenever even the slightest mention of a need to try something new, even apparently intelligent well meaning people suddenly shrink into sad limp defensiveness, frustration and impotent moans without substance. How so???♏️♦️♦️♦️

  5. Something seriously amiss with the labour party if we need to resort to shortlists in any form . We have already seen the misuse of them by centrist operators pushing in people like jess Philips. How about a socialist and working class short list at least that would not be discriminory

  6. Surely, a VOLUNTARY (self-imposed) shortlist is the best shortlist of all: the local party choses it and shows their commitment tor the issue.

    The *imposition* of a shortlist is, you could argue, intrinsically un-democratic. What’s the difference between imposing a shortlist criterion on a local CLP and helicoptering in a preferred candidate? Only the extent of the control.

  7. I have been reading Skwawkbox for quite a long while before ever posting. It is that one or two posters are nothing but bullies. Those few who expel the like of “what a ridiculous idea” or all of RH’s posts, tend to lack reflection, thoughtfulness, evidence and often always all three. They regurgitate what has already been regurgitated by others. Fresh nourishing ideas and facts of which they are lamentably ignorant, are their allergens and enemies.

    Be alert as warned earlier for the tired unreasoned “Best person for the job”, as if blind to the overwhelming evidence that the best people are certainly NOT in the jobs. Do they not question how things could be such a mess??? The pool of selection could benefit by selecting as widely as possible???

    Re: “Labour heartlands”. Maybe a picture might br more easily understood than only words:

    ALL of the constituencies in the heartlands, excluding the metropolitan areas, voted leave. In our electoral system we go by constituencies in 1st past the post. Not PR… thought everyone knew that♏️♦️♦️♦️

  8. Before deciding whether to support all-women or all-BAME shortlists I’d want to know that the pool of women or BAME members in the constituency was big enough not to lead to a choice between only one or two or ten members out of, say, a few hundred.
    If white males were in such a minority I’d make exactly the same argument.
    It’s not that I’m opposed necessarily, I just think that at a local level the pool of talent will almost always be too small or too big. Too big means talent goes to waste, too small means we get useless MP’s.
    Let’s be honest – talent migrates to where the opportunities are and local politics is mean, parochial, cliquey and dusty.
    As in gene pools, small leads to mediocrity.

    If women and BAME members are under-represented at branch level I’d prefer we make the party more welcoming and activism more attractive to them by other means than positive discrimination – who really wants to gain a position that way anyway? Where there’s real discrimination against anyone, deal with it immediately.

    You’ll call me undemocratic and a Blairite but I’d prefer to find 650 outstandingly able prospective candidates from many different fields and from any part of the country, test their aptitude for politics and allocate constituencies by lot.
    Leave people who think local to do local politics and people who think nationally to do parliament.

    And another thing – can somebody tell me how the frock do all-women shortlists discriminate against BAME women?
    Maybe I’m being particularly dense tonight but I don’t see a mechanism to create that situation.

  9. Fact are, evidence is, locally & nationally, here and abroad, that positive discrimination has been in operation for generations. Positive towards those who have brought us to this state. They choose & promote those who look like themselves. Is it working? The term when used to call for change, should be abandoned. As even well meaning people focus on colour, gender and other externalities rather than asking what qualities and merits do the present rulers have??? Are others with the necessary qualities and merits to improve our society, are they being locked out because the do not look like the recruiters??? = negative discrimination. Many studies over the last 30 years or more, confirm this. So with blind recruitment, individuals are shortlisted but are rejected when seen. Of course sometimes for valid reasons but sadly often not. One can find in many commercial organisations and even the arts, that behind the scenes, those rejected for “high office” are the core of sophisticated training. If they are good enough to train, why not to lead??? We must leave negative discrimination behind and open our eyes to true quality, merit and qualifications even from primary school to beyond♏️♦️♦️♦️

    1. Yes Joseph! A prepared, focussed, incisive, robust, evidence based kinder thinking politics that fires up and serves EVERYONE with everyone feeling keen to contribute without being shouted down ie “ridiculous idea” … Columbus was called that and worse”. Interestingly by people full of brash base insults who NEVER offer reasoned EVIDENCE based observations. Evidence like Chris Grayling. Evidence like Cameron giving the ref without plans for an outcome none of the “Best Men for the Job” amongst MPs & MSM predicted.

      Are some really saying without embarrassment, that women and people with more skin pigmentation are not MPs or ministers because they were “not just good enough”??? That, to me is truly ridiculous. We need to stop +ve discriminating in favour of people whose only merit is that they look like us. We need to let the light of others in. And shine it on the makers of the foul stench that is HS2, PFI, Asset Stripping of Public Assets, Cosy deals between the super rich & HMRC, while small businesses suffer, Land banking by the big 5 property developers to inflate property prices while social housing building is at the lowest for over a decade… could go on. Any, surely any sentient being need only look around to see the failures of the assumed “Best Men for the Jobs” ♏️♦️♦️♦️

  10. The party can only.benifit from a positive input from a new way of thinking and doing,BAME will do that? Yes shine a light and move forward stronger in a group of people who have stood solid behind the Labour party and nows the time to open up to a kinder thinking politics and not carry on with our failed internal democracy…Open the doors comrades and welcome a new kind of politics

    1. Not BAME for its own sake. Instead, crucial to see that the Status Quo is pushing potential away. So we overlook the potentially true “Best people for the jobs”. Then perpetuate the promotion of mostly men without melanin in high position, without merit. Result? A morass that endures.♏️♦️♦️♦️

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