Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Multicultural London Liberal Democrats

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 17th March, 2012

The selection by Hackney Liberal Democrats of Pauline Pearce to be their candidate in the forthcoming by-election in Hackney Central is symbolic of the way London Liberal Democrats have transformed themselves in recent years to be an inclusive party that can not only represent the UK’s multicultural capital but also reflects its diverse population. Pauline — dubbed the ‘Heroine of Hackney’ by one local newspaper after she stood up to young rioters last summer and berated them — would be a brilliant addition to the Liberal Democrat group on Hackney Council (which currently includes Orthodox Jews and a Muslim), and would justifiably shame the local Labour Party which just assumes that people will vote for a Labour replacement after their sitting councillor moved to Scotland. But this is about more than just Hackney. Across London, Liberal Democrats have been signing up members from all ethnic and faith groups and electing a range of local representatives who are of and with their local communities. The election to the London Assembly this 3 May (the same day as the Hackney council by-election) sees a LibDem list which features three South Asians, one Chinese, one Afro-Caribbean and one Irish among the 11-strong team. The Asian Muslim woman, Shas Sheehan, has the strongest chance of being elected, as Number 4 on the list. It is true that the Party still has a way to go in diversity among our MPs, even in London. All seven LibDem MPs in London are white and there needs to be a huge effort to ensure some new, diverse faces get in somewhere in London in 2015. But overall, London Liberal Democrats can be proud of the way that they have led the way on diversity as far as the national party is concerned. And the subject will be an important issue at the London Liberal Democrats’ Spring Conference in Canary Wharf at the end of the month.


One Response to “Multicultural London Liberal Democrats”

  1. Jonathan Hunt said

    jonathan himself as chair of the region deserves plaudits for helping to improve the situation in London, where the non-white population is the largest in the country, and may well be close to 40 per cent when the census figures are revealed later this year. The regional party was courageous in taking measures to ensure that a BME candidate had to be in the first four on the slate.

    It shows what happens when you take a limited form of positive action to help reverse the discrimination that was previously allowed by the regional party to exist in the capital.

    But there is no room for complacency. No Afro-Caribbean candidate was elected on to the list. And the numbers of all elected representatives, mostly councillors, in London is a small fraction of the electorate. Until we truly reflect the people we seek to represent, Liberal Democrats have much more work to do.

    Some of that will be in Hackney, helping to elect Pauline Pearce.

    Jonathan Hunt
    Secretary, Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats

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