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?