Saturday 9th June is the day when a new campaign to end racial disadvantage within the Party begins. It will replace Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats and operate as Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality.
This move has been inspired to some extent by the work done by Lord John Alderdice which states starkly that the Party has so far failed to properly ensure that it is representative of all the racial groups in our country. The new name demonstrates a new sense of purpose and direction and gives a clear indication that the organisation welcomes membership from everyone in the party who recognises that more needs to be done to enable the party to reflect the diversity of our communities at every level.
For those of us - and there are many in the party - who have spent decades campaigning against racism, it is shocking to comprehend that what we are still fighting to achieve, in the year 2018, is genuine equal opportunity and integration.
As the Alderdice Report points out, there is much to be done at every level in the party to make the organisation more inclusive and bring in a diverse new generation of activists. Tomorrow's leadership is created from today's new recruits and so we intend to create a positive plan to assist local parties in diverse areas to reach out to communities that are currently under-represented. We will be keen to talk to successful, integrated local parties to distil their experience.
The important and challenging factor identified by Alderdice is a change of culture. This has to be the responsibility of everyone in the Party, at every level. All -white local parties in constituencies with significant BAME communities cannot be acceptable. We need change and representation at every level. LDCRE will be campaigning and holding the leadership of the Party accountable, but we can only succeed with the commitment of all including Parliamentarians, regional officers and local party executives.
We need to look at the way the party recruits personnel and where they advertise. We must look at the party's communications machinery to see how closely they liaise with the minority ethnic media, in sending these important organisations every news release that is sent to the mainstream media but also targeted news.
The party must have a position on the major issues concerning race equality and diversity - think back to the seventies and eighties when many young progressives joined the Liberal Party because of the radical and oft-repeated stance taken by the leadership on racism and apartheid. We must regain that reputation.
And there's much to campaign on as a party, as racism - whether deliberate, institutional or inadvertent - is a factor everywhere you look. In education we should support the National Education Union conference's unanimous rejection of calls to ban the hijab in schools and demand that top universities drop their bias in favour of the expensively educated. In housing we should expose and campaign against discrimination in housing allocation and racist rental policies. In health we should be demanding proper representation of BAME professionals in health service management - a recent survey indicated that there are only five BAME chief executives across more than 300 NHS organisations.
In the private sector we should be demanding that all companies that have more than 50 in the workforce should be required to publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay band as well as gender. In making such a call the party would be reflecting a growing view as seen for example in the government-commissioned McGregor-Smith report on race in the workplace. Naturally the Conservative government decided not to act on that, so our party should lead the charge.
We have a great leader in Vince Cable and chief executive in Nick Harvey who both understand why building diversity in both the party and in our society is essential.
This revamped organisation looks forward to working closely with them and others in key positions across the Party to take this much needed challenging campaign forward with unstinting guidance from our LDCRE President Baroness Meral Ece, Equalities Spokesperson for the Party.
We are planning a new positive chapter fighting for race equality within the Liberal Democrats and as Liberal Democrats, if you share our aims, join our new organisation and come along to our AGM on Saturday 9th June at Lib Dem HQ at 11am and be part of this movement to shape the future direction of a truly representative Liberal Democrats Party.