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Lord Alderdice's report on Race, Ethnic Minorities and the Culture of the Liberal Democrats

February 8, 2018 5:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

If we look around us at our fellow Party members, elected representatives and spokespersons, we can see there is a problem: we are not as diverse in our race and ethnic minority profile as the communities we want to represent.

Despite our clear liberal values, rejecting all forms of prejudice and inequality, the Party has failed to engage sufficiently with BAME communities.

Our commitment to liberal values is not in doubt, but what we're doing isn't working.

We have made many changes to procedures but these haven't worked, and on their own, they aren't going to work. We need a culture change as a Party.

Our commitment to liberal values is not in doubt, but what we're doing isn't working.

As the Party of equality, diversity and inclusivity, we should be the natural home for BAME people because we want to value each person for who they are. But the fact is we just aren't seen as welcoming enough to BAME people.

I have concluded that while leadership is really important, the problem is not fundamentally a lack of leadership.

The Party's leadership are committed to addressing this, but instead, the problem is one of the culture of the party, and changing culture is not easy.

Everyone in the Party has a responsibility to prioritise reaching out to BAME people and making them feel welcome in our Party.

It is also a question of priorities and everyone in the Party has a responsibility to prioritise reaching out to BAME people and making them feel welcome in our Party.

Every individual member and every local party group needs to read this report and think about what it says and what efforts we need to make at every level, from local party events to Conference, if things are to change.

We should also think about how we can identify and support our BAME leaders of the future so we can change the face of the Party, making it more visibly racially and ethnically diverse.

We must make this a top priority and act differently now, at every level.

This is about who we are as Liberal Democrats, and whether we practice what we preach. We can start changing our party's culture by taking some of these simple actions:

  • Start to read, think and talk with others about this issue and about what you can do.
  • If any BaME person comes to a local meeting, make a point to go and talk to them: make them feel welcomed and develop a relationship with them.
  • Is the range of events you hold sufficiently sensitive to the culture and beliefs of different communities - the 'Lib Dem Pint' isn't very accessible for people who don't drink, for example.
  • Ensure that your local party group makes and implements a plan for engaging with race and ethnic minority communities in your area.
  • Think about your local campaigning priorities and materials: do they address the interests and concerns of BAME communities in your area?
  • If you want to bring in young people from communities, don't expect older community leaders to be the most suitable magnets.
  • Everyone has a contribution to make in engaging BAME communities and individuals at all levels.
  • Study the options suggested in the report as a stimulus for you developing your own ideas for changing the culture of the Party.

Start making a difference by reading my report in full here:

Read the report