Cable: Time for all-BAME short-lists to tackle Parliament's diversity problem
Speaking at The Grand Mawlid (Peace Conference) in Birmingham today in front of an expected 4,000 audience, Vince Cable will call on the government to change the law so that all-BAME (black and minority ethnic) short-lists are allowed for selecting Parliamentary election candidates.
Under the 2010 Equality Act, political parties may field all-women or all-disabled short-lists, but the law does not allow for all-BAME short-lists.
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable is expected to say:
"There remains a serious lack of diversity in Parliament.
"There are just 51 BAME MPs. Despite being a record total, they represent only 7.9% of all MPs, against 14% of the British population. There are still too few opportunities for BAME people to enter British politics at all levels.
"Parliament is supposed to set an example to the rest of society. We should be showing that we are willing to tackle issues of lack of diversity head on.
"Although advances in gender balance have been made partly through all-women short-lists, we still have this loophole that all-BAME short-lists are not allowed.
"I have written to Damian Green, the de facto deputy prime minister, calling on him to close this loophole through legislation. It is time to unify the country by giving everyone the opportunity to move up in life."
Frank Little, secretary of Aberavon and Liberal Democrats, added:
"It should be noted that Vince calls for permissive, not mandatory legislation, contrary to some media speculation earlier in the week.
"In 2016 the Lib Dems became the first party to pick a prospective parliamentary candidate from an all-disabled short-list when Stephen Lloyd was selected for Eastbourne. He regained the seat at this year's general election with a majority of 1,609 and is now the party's Spokesperson for Work & Pensions. "