Labour must do more to represent black and Asian voters, says Fabian Society

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Black and Asian Labour members face discrimination at all levels despite the party’s strong track record on fighting for equality, a Fabian report has found.

Members classed as black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) reported feeling isolated in the study for the Fabian Society.

Today Dawn Butler warned in the foreword to the report, published on LabourList, without changes the party could lose support from demographics whose “natural home” is Labour.

She said: “The Labour party rightly holds itself to a much higher standard than any other party or organisation on issues of fairness, equal opportunity and fighting discrimination.”

The authors of the report have called for reforms to the selection process and for public targets for BAME representation to be set.

Labour members classed as BAME are 15 per cent less likely than their white counterparts to agree that there are “people like me” in their constituency Labour party (CLP), and 10 points less likely to agree that people are “treated fairly” in their local party.

In local government selections, BAME members are significantly less likely to report being supported or encouraged, or indeed to think that the process itself was easy to understand. Two thirds of candidates in parliamentary or devolved assembly selections said that their selection was unfair – for white respondents this was much lower, at just one in five.

In her foreword to the report, Butler, shadow minister for diverse communities, said : “The Labour Party rightly holds itself to a much higher standard than any other party or organisation on issues of fairness, equal opportunity and fighting discrimination. As an African-Caribbean woman there is a lot in this report that I recognise and have in fact suffered from. So even if we acknowledge that aspects of this report do not apply everywhere, and recognise that some parts of the Labour Party have made real progress, there is no doubt it is a report we must take seriously and act on with determination.”

Olivia Bailey and Adebusuyi Adeyemi, who wrote the report, said: “The Labour party has led the way on race equality but the Conservative party has done more to improve BAME representation in the last two electoral cycles than Labour has done in more than two decades. Labour must take urgent action to eradicate any discrimination in its ranks.”

To read the full report click here. The research was conducted through desk based research, interviews and a roundtable with experts, and a survey of Labour party members which had 3107 respondents in autumn 2015.

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