Lib Dem leadership candidates commit to 'Rooney Rule'


The party's leadership will surely hope that the decision to shakeup their selection process will bear fruit.

In a decision which would make it the first of its kind in British politics, both Liberal Democrats leadership candidates have committed to introducing the ‘Rooney Rule’ during the party’s Racial Equality Hustings. Both prospective candidate Layla Moran, and the acting leader of the party Ed Davey committed to what would represent a major step in ensuring competitive representation for prospective BAME candidates. Although the details of how it will be implemented are yet to be released in full, the decision will be the first of its kind, as the 'Rooney Rule' would see the party reserve a minimum share of candidates in parliamentary shortlists from BAME backgrounds.

During the Hustings there were further pledges made to ensure that the party moved to adopt measures which would see it become more racially diverse. Among these was the decision to fund a leadership mentoring and training programme for aspiring minority ethnic candidates, to audit progress in parliamentary staff and local council selections as well as to track the efforts of local parties to become more reflective of their communities.

Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality Chair, Roderick Lynch stated:

"Progress in diversifying our party has been glacial in recent years, so I welcome these substantial announcements. I look forward to working with whomever wins to realise these commitments and get the Lib Dems leading the fight for racial equality."

Lib Dem Campaign for Race Equality Membership Secretary, Chris Annous, added:

“I am delighted that both leadership candidates have promised their commitment to implementing a 'Rooney Rule' for parliamentary selections. Research shows significant discrimination occurs in recruitment at the pre-interview stage.”

“Though not a silver bullet, allowing more aspiring BAME candidates to make their case for selection to local members in selection meetings will thus increase the party’s number of BAME candidates and ultimately MPs. This representation is key to tackling racial inequalities.”

Increased diversity within positions of leadership and focus on BAME communities has formed a prominent aspect of the Liberal Democrats agenda since the previous election. It was at the very beginning of the year that Leadership hopeful Layla Moran had called for companies listed in the FTSE 350 to target greater diversity in the makeup of its board of directors, stating that at least 15% should be of a BAME background. June also saw party leaders write to the Prime Minister urging him to take immediate action to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups.

The latest announcements in adopting the Rooney Rule represent their most direct attempts yet, to ensure great diversity at the parliamentary level.

Mayowa Ayodele