Less Diverse than UKIP?
At the last General Election the Green Party had fewer BME candidates than UKIP. As a headline it was definitely a blow in our goal to be representative of the communities we fight for. I’m standing to be elections coordinator because without action this is likely to be another headline in any forthcoming election.
The importance of this issue should not be downplayed. The absence of BME candidates sends a strong message to BME voters that this is not the party for you. It also means we lack the lived experience in our elected officials to tackle head on the issues BME communities face .This party has led the way in terms of representation of women and it is time to apply many of the lessons learned from those efforts.
There are 5 concrete steps the newly elected GPEx must adopt if we are to see any advancement on these issues:
- Institute proper equality monitoring of local election candidates and elected councillors
The party has still not instituted a systemic way of collecting data on how diverse our councillors and our councillor candidates are. This system should be digitised and indeed in 2015 we had a system in place for general election candidates. Proper resource needs to be put in place to ensure as many candidates as possible complete the survey.
- Introduce a training program for promoting BME talent within the party
The Young Greens successfully introduced a 30 under 30 training scheme and many of it’s alumni now occupy senior positions in the party. A similar approach should be adopted for BME members. This training program should focus on building a peer network, offering key campaign skills and more information on how the party works. It should also include ongoing contact with alumni to assess the efficacy of the program.
- Be vocal on the issues that matter
If our party is to attract more BME members it needs to be seen speaking authentically to all communities. The Black Lives Matter movement, the use of thePrevent strategy on the Muslim community and the rise of Brexit racism. What does the party have to say on these issues and what is it concretely doing in every community about these issues? A step every Green councillor could do would be to use the anti-Prevent motion introduced by Cllr Caroline Russell in Islington to their council.. There are many more similar campaigns that could boost our standing with BME communities.
- Promote Equalities Training within the party
Even in our own party there are instances where BME members are made to feel unwelcome. I have heard of too many instances where BME members are treated insensitively, treated as outsiders or the inverse and pounced upon and pressured to be our next leading light. Greater sensitivity and awareness of BME issues should be part of training modules roiled our at the regional level.
- Put in place an “ethnic media” strategy
There are far too many publications targeted at certain communities that the Green Party has no relationship or history of coverage. The Green Party needs a clear and coherent strategy on improving coverage in these publications.
I’m standing on a platform of implementing these and other ideas. I hope you will put me as your first preference come the opening of ballots.
Benali is standing to be the Green Party’s Election Coordinator and has a website outlining his candidacy on benali.org.uk
You can find the full list of candidates for the upcoming GPEW elections here. Any other candidates wishing to contribute a piece to Bright Green should email: firstname.lastname@example.org