Labour must double the number of BAME MPs, says Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper will say Labour must double the number Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) MPs if the party were to win a majority.
Yvette Cooper

Cooper is in the running to be Labour’s next leader. This announcement comes ahead of a BAME leadership and deputy leadership hustings, which will take place this evening in Harrow. Prior to the last election there was also criticism from within the party that there was a “shameful” lack of BAME candidates in key seats. Labour currently has 23 minority ethnic MPs.

The shadow home secretary has also argued that there must also be greater diversity in the police, armed forces and civil service.  She has said that she will outline her plans to increase diversity over the course of the leadership contest.

So far Cooper has said that if she became Prime Minister she would implement a legal requirement on police forces to increase diversity. This would include launching a consultation on legislating for a New York-style “affirmative action” plan for recruitment practices.  The police department in New York has 40 officers who recruit from minority ethnic communities, they also encourage applicants who speak languages other than English to apply and they give serving officers the opportunity to learn other languages.  

Cooper has said she will call for greater diversity in the armed forces. She has also responded to a report from the National Audit Office yesterday, which showed that the number of BAME people – as well as the number of women and disabled people –  is lower than it should be in the civil service, particularly at senior levels. She has said would require an annual report from each Government department, outlining how they have recruited more BAME members of staff at all levels of government.

Cooper will say:

“Labour should set a goal to double the number of BAME MPs in a Labour majority Parliament.

“With over a million ethnic minority voters choosing the Tories at the last election Labour cannot be complacent. If Labour is not representative of our voters how can we hope to keep their support?

“More than 15% of Labour voters are from BAME communities but just 10% of Labour MPs.

“If the number of Labour MPs mirrored the proportion of Labour voters there would be at least double the number of Labour MPs in a Labour majority Parliament.

“There are many causes for under-representation of BAME communities in Parliament.  So there won’t be a simple solution.

“As leader I will personally oversee a taskforce – which will engage with BAME members of Parliament, councillors, NEC members and local Party activists, to ensure a step change in support for BAME candidates and activists.

“We need a development programme for BAME activists who want to be candidates, and candidates who want the support to win. We should look at how we ensure that shortlists are more representative. And it will report on bursary schemes to support aspiring candidates with training and support with selections.”


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