Politics / Ryan Gray

Diversity In Parliament

Image

Chuka Umunna, rising labour politician

Britain currently has 27 MPs from an ethnic minority background in parliament. A figure which nearly doubled from what it was in 2010 before the general election when it was at just 14. This was a tremendous achievement for diversity and multiculturalism in Britain given the open racism many Black or Asian men and women suffered publicly in the 70’s and 80’s. However, given we are a nation that prides itself on its tolerance and celebration of difference already, should there really be more MPs out of 650 in the current house of commons that are from an ethnic minority? Given that according to the 2001 census ethnic minorities made up around 8% of the population.

The general election in 2010 had many firsts which may surprise people living in Britain. To name shocks, Labour’s Chi Onwurah became the first African woman to win a parliamentary seat (Newcastle Central) while Priti Patel became the Conservatives first Asian female MP, winning Witham in Essex to become one of 19 Asian Mps. But there were also notable failures, the Liberal Democrats remained the only party of the main three in Britain to have no minority MPs, highlighting the lack of candidates put forward of a non-white background. Nevertheless what the general election showed was that despite growing support and success of minority parliamentary candidates, ethnic minorities are still under-represented in British politics.

Britain however is not alone in under-representing ethnic minorities in parliament. In the 112th United States Congress which assembled in January 2011, there were 81 members from an ethnic minority background out of a possible 535 possible seats. This means the ethnic make-up of Congress at the beginning of 2011 was 15% ethnic minority, a percentage again far lower than the percentage of ethnic minorities in the USA.

So to conclude, although Britain is not alone in having a political system that does not represent minorities in the country to how it arguably should, there is no perfect example of a nation that has succeeded in fairly representing ethnic-minorities. Should we be satisfied with this fact or should we actively seek more to have a political system more diverse and representing of modern British society?

Ryan Gray

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Diversity In Parliament

    • Firstly, there are no high profile muslims in Britain other than Anjem Choudary that advocates Sharia law being brought into law in Britain. Anjem Choudary also does not seek to be elected into westiminister so the election of sharia law candidates to parliament at this current time is not plausible.

      This is because despite mainstream papers in the UK increasingly mentioning the “rise of militant Islam” the reality is actually vastly different. The far-right argument held that Muslims do not see themselves as British and are not compatible with British life is incorrect, along with the claims that Islam will ‘over-run’ the United Kingdom and that all Muslims all Sharia law.

      To name a few of the many British Muslims that speak out against Choudary, Dr Waqar Azmi OBE of the British Muslim Forum said that “Islam4UK and its leader Anjem Choudary do not represent or speak for Islam or British Muslims but are a “platform” for the extremist movement al-Muhajiroun. There is no room for such kind of people or their organisations in our community or the peaceful religion of Islam.” While Salma Yaqoob, the leader of Respect Party in Britain , said of Choudary: “He is a bigot whose goal in life is to provoke division.

      Following on from this, despite accusations Muslims are not patriotic, British Muslims do infact often express of belonging to society. A survey of the attitudes of British Muslims found 83% of Muslims are proud to be a British citizen, compared to 79% of the general public. The same survey also showed that 77% of Muslims ‘strongly identify’ with Britain while only 50% of the wider population do.

      Lastly, the claim ” All Muslims want Sharia law and will over-run” is not true. There are 2.87 million Muslims in Britain, of which Choudary has received no support from the mainstream Muslim community. This number also is insignificant compared to the number of Christians in the United Kingdom (72% of the population) and even smaller compared to the entire population of country which according to the 2011 census is 63million.

      So to answer your question how will England deal with the rise of militant Islam. I have to disagree with your asseration that there is a problem to be dealt with in the first place.

  1. It could be that the number of minority ethnic MPs is a reflection of other areas of society that require senior responsibility. e.g. media, board room, football management, civil service, Police, Army.

    It would help if when when next minority ethnic politicians are appointed to Senior Govts post that they have Cabinet powers unlike what happened to Baronesses Warsi & Scotland (Attprney General). In fact those 2 should have turned their senior appointments for that reason alone.

    Maybe more us need to go into local government as a starting block. But such politics as you know is much nastier than HoP.

    But we need to be braver and get out there.

  2. Pingback: We Are In This Together « just telling it as it is

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s