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Race Equality Pledges

Every single one of us is responsible for race equality. The culture of an organisation though is often driven by those who hold senior positions in it. Below senior Liberal Democrats make their personal pledges to ensure that the Party meets the challenges of the Alderdice Review and drives forward race equality at every level.

Sir Vince Cable - Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Vince Cable with party campaignersMuch has improved in Britain since I raised a mixed family here in the 1970s, but it is nothing short of shocking to think of how much there is still to do. Unemployment among black, Asian and minority ethnic people is double that among white Britons. Black Caribbean children are permanently excluded three times more often than their White British classmates. Black men are 10 times more likely than white men to have experienced a psychotic disorder, but are least likely to be in receipt of any treatment - medication, counselling or therapy - while being the most likely to have been detained under the Mental Health Act.

As a party we have a dedicated policy group, developing our approach on a cross-departmental basis to spell out a joined up Liberal strategy for reducing race inequality in our country. But as we do that, we also have to look at ourselves. As I said to our recent conference in Southport, our party is - quite simply - very white. We just do not yet reflect the country we seek to represent and to govern.

Where prejudice is outright or outspoken, it is easy to call out. And I know every member of our party would join me in doing so. It is the subtle, unseen, unconscious prejudice which is harder to counter. It exists in every organisation, but I want us as Liberal Democrats to root it out from ours.

Sal Brinton and Dick Newby set out below the steps we are taking centrally to encourage and support BAME volunteers, candidates and staff. As Leader I give priority to visiting and engaging with communities beyond our traditional base of constituencies, and during elections, I have particularly sought to support BAME candidates. I am urging the party to select more and to do so where we can win.

More than anything else, every member of the party, every committee of every local party, needs an active consciousness of racial equality. Just as it is now regarded totally unacceptable to have all-male groups running party bodies, we must come to the same reflex in respect of ethnic diversity. I strongly endorse the work the Lib Dem Campaign for Race Equality is doing, and look forward to work with the campaign to ensure our party is a welcoming place - and an effective political vehicle and voice - for everyone.

Baroness Sal Brinton - Liberal Democrat President

Amna Ahmed and Sal BrintonOur much loved and often quoted Preamble to the Constitution makes clear our fundamental values on equality but, we know that as far as race equality is concerned, we still have much to do. The party is too white, not just in parliament and councils, but also within our party membership itself. We have too few ethnic minority members, party chairs and officers, and approved parliamentary candidates. At best, our processes and systems do not challenge unconscious bias. At worst, incidents of discrimination should be called out, dealt with swiftly, to reassure our members that the party will not tolerate it.

The Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality is absolutely vital in both holding the party to account and helping us to change the face of our party. I'm delighted to support your work.

Cllr Shaffaq Mohamed and Sal Brinton at the Da Hood boxing club in SheffieldJohn Alderdice's Review, rightly very challenging, has set the party with a clear way forward. At a Federal level, each of our committees has been asked to have an action plan to ensure that we change the way we think and operate, which have also been presented to the Board. The Board itself has created an extra vice chair for a BAME Board member, and Joyce Onstad and Dinesh Dhamija were elected two of our three vice chairs. Additionally, each member of every Federal Committee has been asked what they will change personally, and to commit to delivering that. Pledges made so far include finding and mentoring our next generation of candidates, campaigning with BAME candidates during the recent elections, finding and training chairs and speakers for party conference debates.

For me delivering the Alderdice Review is a key priority for the remainder of my term as President. I will make sure that race equality is considered in all we do. I will highlight and celebrate the achievements of our BAME members. I will continue to find and support candidates: In May 2018 it was a privilege campaigning with Pauline Pearce in her Hackney mayoral campaign, and with Cllr Shaffaq Mohamed in Sheffield. I will also continue to fight to get the law changed to allow us to have all BAME shortlists.

Above all, I continue to be impressed by the talent and skills our ethnic minority members possess, and working together I believe we can succeed in changing the face of our party and look like the country we want to represent.

Baron Richard Newby - Liberal Democrat Group Leader, House of Lords

Baron Richard NewbyI believe that the Party seeks to treat everyone equally, whatever their ethnicity, sexuality or social background. However, this has not automatically ensured that the Party is as diverse as some of the communities which it seeks to represent, or as society as a whole. We have taken steps to improve representation of women at all levels of the Party, which have had positive and demonstrable effects. We now need to give the same priority to deepen the involvement of people from BaME communities.

Our group of 98 Lib Dems in the House of Lords is much more diverse than our currently small group of MPs, and we recognise that we have a leadership role to play in promoting the culture change proposed by the Alderdice review in order to bring about greater diversity across the Party. We have therefore been looking at a range of practical steps which, as Peers, we can take in areas where we have direct responsibility and more generally across the Party

Our initial five point plan involves:

  1. Mentoring BME members to help them progress in the Party
  2. Asking local parties to take positive steps to invite BME members/supporters to attend events at which we speak
  3. Initiating a debate in our own individual local parties about what they are doing to recruit/develop BME members
  4. Ensure that we prioritise diversity when appointing interns and staff members in the Whips' Office in the Lords
  5. Prioritising support for candidates from BME backgrounds in elections and by-elections.

There are many other steps which the Party as whole needs to take, and Peers will play whatever constructive roles we can in promoting these. We are absolutely determined to take whatever action we can to make the Liberal Democrats a truly diverse Party.

Sir Nick Harvey - Liberal Democrat Chief Executive

Sir Nick Harvey (By Amanda Reynolds, Ministry of Defence (www.defenceimagery.mod.uk) [OGL (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/1/)], via Wikimedia Commons)As the party's Chief Executive, I wish the re-launched LDCRE well in the next chapter of its campaign to improve diversity and inclusivity in our party and our society.

We need urgently to transform the range of faces in our party, and to see more ethnic minorities walk and work alongside us old-timers and fight together for all our country's citizens.

LDCRE will also tell us when we get it wrong and, I hope going forward, when things go right.

Our party leadership must listen to under-represented voices - if we don't, who will? Immigrants, refugees, citizens with richly diverse heritage, and the communities and businesses they have established, have boosted us as a nation and contributed to our economic success.

Lord Alderdice's report was a helpful but stark warning that we really need to change. He has identified the problems and we must get to work resolving them.

Now we are growing and advancing again, we are well placed to reach those who lack voice and to support communities which struggle to be heard.

Open racism from the far right needs tackling head-on, but so too does latent institutional racism, which often prevents ethnic minorities from flourishing. The awful spectre of Brexit further blights the multi-cultural legacy we have worked so hard to establish.

Pledges are made by all political parties, but real change only happens when leaders walk the walk as well as talking the talk.

In our own party, action is needed. Our Campaign for Gender Balance is helping improve women's representation, though it still has a long way to go. Now we must do the same for BAME candidates, and we are actively seeking sponsorship for this.

Another LDHQ priority is to make our staff recruitment more inclusive. My new EA, also a party member, is of Muslim and Bangladeshi ethnic heritage and will work alongside our new Head of HR, a Catalan corporate lawyer, to overhaul our processes to stimulate, and meet the needs of, BAME applicants.

All our staff must be ever mindful of the Alderdice challenge to promote diversity in our party - in our membership, local officers, councillors and candidates. We must also reach out beyond our own ranks to individuals and communities who need our support.

In all this we rely on LDCRE to act as our guardians and champions.

Nobody should be left behind.