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BAME Shortlists are a no go

Originally posted on CommentCentral.

With an election looming and the ethnic minority population increasing, it is easy to see why the representation of ethnic minorities in public life is on the minds of major political parties. Labour believes the way forward is through BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) shortlists, but I disagree.

Diane Abbott tweeted at the start of this month, that for the past 30 years she had been saying: "BAME shortlists were necessary because apparently, that is the only way to increase the number of BAME representation." While I can appreciate the intentions, the idea makes me incredibly uncomfortable, and begs the question does Diane not think ethnic minorities are capable of doing well without a leg up? And when she made this comment, did she not imagine how it may make ethnic minorities feel – that we're not as good as our white peers, just because of our race and ethnicity?

It seems to me that the Labour Party are beginning to worry about not having to put in the effort to win the BAME vote over the past few years, especially in constituencies with high BAME populations. Kofo David in Mid September, wrote an article on LabourList as to why he thinks BAME shortlists are needed and that reason is the party realises loyalty to the party is not only withering away with the loyal voters, but the younger generation is not particularly attracted to the Labour Party.

To me, it appears the Labour Party are very lazy – they don't want to think about how to attract the BAME vote – they want the votes to make themselves look good, and pushing for BAME shortlists gives the impression they care when they don't. It's want to tick boxes, through enforcing positive discrimination. But even positive discrimination, is negative discrimination in itself.

I have the view, that regardless of your gender, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexuality – if you're passionate enough about politics, representing those who share a similar view to yourself, you will not let your race or ethnicity stand in your way. Just take a look at Boris Johnson's Cabinet. It's the most diverse cabinet we've ever seen and two of the most prominent positions; Chancellor of the Exchequer held by Sajid Javid and Home Secretary held by Priti Patel, both of whom are in the job due to their experiences, talent and merit – and not because they tick the boxes.

Yes, ethnic minority representation needs to increase; but making politics more accessible through unbiased political education in our schools, holding events which suits the livelihoods is the way forward, not singling out ethnic minorities via BAME shortlists.

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