Labour Party report suggests introduction of all-black shortlists for parliamentary candidates

White candidates should be barred from standing for Parliament in up to eight constituencies in order to get more black and Asian MPs elected, says a controversial report commissioned by Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman.

Positive discrimination is illegal in the UK, but the report concludes that, without a change in the law allowing parties to impose all-black shortlists, it would take more than 75 years for Britain’s ethnic make-up to be fairly reflected at Westminster.

The findings come amid questions over Britain’s failure to develop a home-grown equivalent of Barack Obama, the black presidential hopeful. Although there have been three black cabinet ministers since 1997 – Paul Boateng and Valerie Amos, both of whom have since moved on, and Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General – no politician of the stature of Obama, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or her predecessor, Colin Powell, has emerged.

Harman is understood to be still considering the report’s findings in detail, but has expressed personal support for a change.

Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote and the author of the review, said talented candidates were not ‘getting past go’ at the moment. ‘The change in the law is not a sledgehammer to crack a nut; it’s not forcing parties to use all-black shortlists,’ he said. ‘But unless we take positive action measures we are not going to have a representative democracy for more than 75 years. It’s not that we don’t have Obamas, but we don’t have the mechanisms for them to see the light of day.’



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