Labour's BAME and women top posts


Last weekend, Keir Starmer decisively won the Labour leadership. The three month contest started with six candidates and ended with three including Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy. Starmer won 56.2% of votes, more than double Long Bailey’s final tally, and more votes of the two finishers combined.

After his leadership speech and an immediate critique of the coronaviris crisis, he set out to appoint his shadow cabinet. To date (he has yet to fill all posts) Starmer has made 97 appointments including the former Labour leader and OBV friend, Ed Miliband as Business Secretary, and Anneliese Dodds, as the first female shadow Chancellor.

There are six posts for ministers from the last Labour Blair/Brown government. One of the highlights is the 47 posts for women (just under 50%).

The new leader will immediately seek to embark on a renewed campaign to win back the hearts of mainland Britain that were lost at the last General Election - many of whom traditionally voted for Labour, but also supported Brexit. However, this is not the only section of society with whom they need to renew their efforts.

BME voters have been a steadfast rock of support for Labour for over 75 years. Despite providing the Labour Party with their whole-hearted support, BME voters and Labour supporters up and down the country. For example, critics were somewhat disappointed by the lack of BME candidates at the last General Election, especially the exclusion of African Caribbean men from safe seats where in Labour had incumbents retiring.

The appointment of seventeen BME MPs to top posts including nine in the shadow cabinet is a clear indication of intent moving forwards.

It is clear there is a renewed approach to reach out and connect with the BME communities that were left behind. The appointment of Marsha de Cordova, as Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary puts this task in very capable hands. Marsha incidentally is OBV alumni having taken part in our groundbreaking Parliamentary Leadership programme.

David Lammy, Valerie Vaz, Seema Malhotra, Janet Daby, Tan Dhesi (another OBV alumnus) are good friends of OBV that have been put in high positions. The appointment of Rosena Allin-Khan, Preet Kaur Gill, Thangam Debbonaire, and Lisa Nandy puts BME women at the heart of the shadow cabinet and policy making.

The work and efforts required by any individual when they decide to stand for elected office is immense, and all those mentioned deserve respect, equally they will be held to account by BME communities that expect and demand that they deliver on narrowing persistent and entrenched inequalities and social disadvantages with our communities, but also in wider society and the global community.

The presence of these talented men and women in the shadow cabinet will not go unnoticed. Each in turn, will inspire the next generation but also encourage active and engaged civic participation from their constituents. Furthermore, their appointments and will no doubt work be a source of pride and to the benefit of their constituents, and wider society.

We do hope that over the course of the next four years more BME MPs to be included within the ranks of the Shadow Cabinet and Cabinet, so they can not only provide their experience and expertise but also provide balance as the country moves forward into a whole new landscape.

OBV will do its part to ensure they walk the walk, as well as talk the talk.

Rodney Reid and Ashok Viswanathan