Carol Sewell: Why I’m standing to be a member of Labour’s governing body

Carol Sewell

The last two years have not been the easiest time for anyone. For Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic people in this country, times have been particularly tough. The pandemic disproportionately affected us – revealing once again the deep inequalities and injustices in our society. At the same time, the murder of George Floyd brought the attention of the world back to the violence that Black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people face daily.

For BAME communities, and for all of us who need a Labour government, we must continue to do everything in our power to win the next general election for Labour. Delivering a Labour government to deliver for our communities has always been my priority and my focus as a national executive committee (NEC) member. But getting Labour elected and ensuring that the party in power represents the full diversity of our country in government means we must also make Labour more representative of the country we seek to lead. Because support is earned, not counted.

Only by listening to and understanding the lived experience of BAME people can we represent them. And only by including and electing Black people at all levels of our party – from councils (including as council leaders) to parliaments and our NEC – can we ever be truly representative. That is why I am proud that, as an NEC member, I’ve secured new structures for BAME party members. Getting here hasn’t been quick, it hasn’t been easy, and the process is not complete. But this is something that we have demanded, fought for and won – and I am so proud to have delivered it. As your NEC rep, I’ve also secured:

  • A national Labour Party Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic members’ organisation, with a committee to ensure the organisation is effectively administered and organised;
  • Regional/Welsh/Scottish Black, Asian, minority ethnic members’ committees;
  • Local Black, Asian, minority ethnic members’ organisation branches (most likely coterminous with constituencies);
  • New codes of conduct on Afrophobia and anti-Black racism, and Islamophobia;
  • The hardwiring of the diversity of our party and our country into our parliamentary selection processes.

I am proud that I’ve been nominated by 51 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), as well as securing broad support from across the trade union movement thanks to nominations from Unite, GMB, USDAW, Community, the Musician’s Union and my own union UNISON. That’s a real endorsement of what’s already been delivered on our shared agenda.

I am confident that the changes we have fought for together will ensure that the voice and views of BAME members and trade unionists become an integral part of our party democracy and enable us to self-organise and participate in our party at all levels. Meaningful engagement with BAME members, trade unionists and communities has long been promised, and I am confident these rule changes can finally deliver this to strengthen the voice and participation of BAME members throughout our party.

Like all party members – particularly BAME members – I was distressed to read the Forde report. As someone who had been pushing for the report to be released throughout my time on the NEC, I am now committed to ensuring the party takes the action needed to change our party’s culture. Labour must own the issues raised and ensure that all members have confidence in how we move forward together.

Labour cannot win without the support and confidence of BAME members and voters. So, there is still much more we must do. I’m standing for re-election to the NEC on a platform of delivery, but I’m far from finished. I want to ensure the new organisation is a success, whilst also making sure that our party is delivering on its commitments. If I’m re-elected to the NEC, I’ll double down on my focus on representation, delivering:

  • Greater representation in parliament, ensuring the parliamentary party is truly representative;
  • BAME councillors reach senior roles in local government; and
  • A change to the law to allow all-BAME member shortlists.

Labour can and must do more to hear our voices, respond to our concerns and reflect our demands in our policies. In the past two years, I’ve made real progress in making sure the voices of BAME members are heard. If re-elected, I’ll spend the next two years using that experience to push further, and harder, for all of us.

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