Monday, 5 September 2016

The ethnic diversity deficit in the Green Party

In a post just before the results of the Green Party leadership election were declared I predicted that we would have a more homogenous leadership - white, middle class and London/South East based.  LINK

The co-leader victory of Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley meant that there was only one deputy leader post available and this went to Ameila Womack. Shahrar Ali, the first BAME deputy leader of a major British political party, lost his position, although he remains Home Affairs spokesperson for the Greens.

On Facebook he wrote about the issue:

A lot of us are very frustrated about the implications of the leadership outcome on our external facing appearance. Let’s not shoot the messenger who told the story about what would happen if we didn’t take BME representation seriously. Instead look at ‘Our People’ the party website today:

What a relief that forward thinking people like Clare Lorraine Phipps and Matt Hawkins were instrumental in providing us with a more diverse team on the national spokespersons last year. 

Maybe we could find a way of merging those pages to address the faulty appearance we are projecting.

Or maybe we should be honest about our problem and leave it as it is? Serious question.

Worse would be we haven’t considered it.

What about a group shot with all leadership team, elected and spokespersons together, that would make a better image and would still be true.

And just in case we thought the problem was only external facing, what about representation on bodies such as GPRC and GPEx. At a recent GPEx meeting I was the only BME face around a table with sixteen persons (some of whom were also staff, admittedly). But that situation hasn’t improved since the election with other BME candidates like Benali Hamdache not having got elected either.

Here’s a group pic from July 2015 of a national strategy awayday, with the great and the good so called of the party machine. I would no longer be in that picture if taken today and nor would Sahaya who has since left the party.

In some ways this is even more alarming than the above as it suggests the problem of lack of integration is quite entrenched.

Shahrar Ali’s outgoing deputy leader speech, given at conference on Sunday, can be seen HERE 

Clearly emotions are a bit raw at the moment but this is an issue that won't go away.

In the easily overlooked Equality and Diversity report for the Green Party Conference, the coordinators' write:
The lack of diversity in the leadership and Green party executive (GPEx) elections has been incredibly disappointing, and something we must acknowledge as a failure. We need to look again at where we are going wrong and how we can improve the diversity of candidates. This is also true in our wider internal and external elections and candidate selections, and we need to look at mechanisms for encouraging marginalised groups to come forward.

...We have set up a working group with monthly meetings, including representatives from Greens of Colour and staff looking at how best to progress. To begin with we are looking at creating regional equality and diversity champions, supporting the growth of Greens of Colour and getting better at diversity monitoring as a whole.

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