In September 2014, in my inaugural speech as Deputy Leader, I spoke about the need for greater ethnic diversity in the party. Still, a recent GPEW survey found that ethnicity is the main area where greater effort for representation is needed – over 97% of respondents were white in comparison to 86% nationwide. An article in the Evening Standard today claims that “Greens have fewer ethnic minority candidates than any other party including UKIP“. Their figures give us 4% to UKIP’s 6% with LibDem 10%, Labour 9% and Conservative 11%. The contention that one in seven of our candidates in London is from a BME background, is dealt short shrift in the public comments to the article – that’s just 14% when the capital boasts 55% BME.
I have always maintained that we must resolve as a Party to tackle this deficit of credibility collectively. It may not happen fast but it does need to happen. That means the issue has to be on everybody’s radar in consideration of daily political plans and organisation. I have been especially encouraged by the development of a national BME group within the Party – launched at the Spring Conference 2015 in Liverpool. The impact of this group remains to be tested, but if the vibrancy of the discussion at the first meeting is anything to go by, then we have a solid foundation for future work. I was invited to address the Launch event and spoke of what I took to be some key priorities for the Party at large, to do with BME visibility, recruitment, promotion and outreach. In the ensuring discussion there were some criticisms aired about how the Party does things, but an overall sense of optimism that some things could be rectified and others progressed.