Jonathan Fryer

Why Is the LibDem Conference Still So Hideously White?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 20th September, 2009

Floella BenjaminLast night’s opening rally at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Bournemouth was a far slicker affair than usual and was held in the main hall for once, which meant that at last there was enough room for everyone. Introduced by party president (Baroness) Ros Scott and compered by Sarah Teather MP (who made some pretty near-the-bone jokes about her outgoing colleague Mark Oaten), the event featured not only the current leader Nick Clegg but also his predecessor-but-one Charles Kennedy plus two strong black women: the TV presenter Floella Benjamin (a LibDem supporter in Streatham) and the feisty PPC for the target seat of Birmingham Perry Bar, Karen Hamilton. So big ticks for the party giving prominence not just to women but Afro-Caribbeans as well.

bournemouth_international_centreHowever, it cannot have escaped the notice of Floella and Karen that they were talking to a great sea of (albeit appreciative) white faces, with only a tiny scattering of other ethnicities represented among delegates. To borrow the famous phrase that Greg Dyke used about the BBC, the LibDem Conference is still hideously white. If the LibDems are ever to be a credible party of government, that has got  to change.

Sarah TeatherThe leadership is well aware of the problem and there are groups such as Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats (EMLD) who are tackling it head on. In London and some of the other major cities, there have been real successes in recruiting BME members and indeed getting them to stand successfully as councillors. A whole raft of parliamentary candidates in predominantly urban areas are now Asian or black. But somehow local parties don’t seem to have managed to ensure that their delegates to conference are as diverse as the communities they come from. Perhaps some ethnic minority members feel conference somehow isn’t for them. The party cannot afford to let any such impression persist.

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9 Responses to “Why Is the LibDem Conference Still So Hideously White?”

  1. Neil Craig said

    We decided at the Nuremberg Trials that planning aggressive war & bombing civilians were war crimes & massacring, ethnic cleansing, genocide & mass kidnap & rape were crimes against humanity. There is no question that the LibDem leaders, without exception, enthusiastically supported an aggressive war against Yugoslavia conducted overwhelmingly by bombing civilians. That after the occupation of Kosovo they unanimously supported the Massacres, such as Dragodan where at least 210 civilians were murdered by our police, widespread genocide, the ethnic cleansing of at least 350,000 & the kidnap & sale to brothels of thousands, probably 10s of thousands of children. It gas since become public that the British government knew & thus party leaders who are Privy Councillors would have known, that our police kidnapped at at least 1,300 Serbs & dissected them while still alive to sell the parts to our hospitals.

    There is clearly a prima faci case that all those involved, including all the leaders of the party, are personally guilty of these war crimes & crimes against humanity.It seems to me that this is a serious charge yet not only have all LibDem MP’s refused to defend themselves in any fact based way* but neither has any
    LibDem blogger & the party has made it a condition of membership that one support this genocide. Indeed most of them (listed here http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/09/lib-dem-bloggers-who-censor-in-nazi.html) have also censored mention of the facts. It should be unnecessary to point out that censorship (& indeed genocide) is anathema to any real liberal.

    I am therefore seeking to find if there is a single “Liberal Democrat” anywhere among the alleged 60,000 members who feels it is possible to dispute, in any factual way, the prima faci case that the entire party leadership are guilty of war crimes, genocide & worse crimes even Hitler didn’t match in the Nazi cause. Alternately is there any single party member who disproves of such atrocities 7 supports the application of the rule of law to such people.

    * The sole person to have been publicly willing to defend the party is Baroness Shirley Williams who admitted that we had done such things but that it was alright because “Milosevic did the same”. She supported that allegation by stating that she personally had seen Yugoslav police carrying out the same atrocities as our police when she visited Belgrade in 1995. While I have to accept this as representing the absolute pinnacle of honesty of which she is capable nobody else has seen this & all other sources say that the fighting in Kosovo took place in Kosovo in 1998/9. When asked to give details of these alleged acts she has repeatedly refused. I’m afraid before accepting that there is any truth in her words I would have to see independent evidence.

  2. Reality check said

    Perhaps because the Liberal Democrats are representative of Britain which remains ‘hideously’ white as you put it? I live in ‘the provinces’ as you city types like to label it and I only see a non-white person if I go into the Chinese or Indian takeaway. Not everywhere is like London.

  3. Leon said

    Also worth checking out is this by Lester Holloway: http://operationblackvote.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/floella-says-lib-dems-are-running-to-win/

  4. John said

    Yeah, feisty and strong black women… Were there any nice, artistic gay hairdressers there too?

  5. Chas said

    Would it be acceptable to ask why a conference was “hideously black” or “hideously Asian”? No, I thought not. It has clearly escaped your notice that Britain is situated in north west Europe where people are white. The only thing that is truly hideous is Sarah Teather who surely has to be kept away from livestock to prevent a stampede.

  6. My guess is we won’t be so under-represented of Black members at next years conference in Birmingham, because (a) its in a major urban city – sorry Bournemouth – and (b) levels of activity, in Cowley Street and Black self-organisation, are growing and will hopefully bare more fruit then.

  7. The thing that was really hideous, was the amount of hideous grey hair at the conference. It looked truely representative of Bournemouth at times. Go back to your constituencies and prepare for the afterlife.

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