The last few months have been extremely busy for LDCRE.
We have been working with HQ, with Parliamentarians and councillors, working for Conference. As if to highlight the importance of centreing race equality in the Party, we then had to sadly work on how to reclaim the race equality narrative nationally after the appalling comments coming out of the recent Torbay scandal.
Many will have heard about the appalling comments from the Torbay Council Leader, the subsequent poor retraction, and many will have been deeply worried about what this says for the Party's trust with BAME communities and members, and the effect on campaigning up and down the country. There has been much concern about the cover this can give to those who are opposed to race equality or just outright racist across the political spectrum, up and down the country.
It has shaken many BAME and non-BAME members. LDCRE have heard the hurt, anger, and pain from many members and non-members up and down the country around this.
It is clear that change is needed. This change must be systemic, effective, and genuinely placing race equality at the centre of the party's priorities for gaining electoral success and remaining a liberal force.
You can read our statement calling for the removal of the Torbay Council Leader here:
You can read press coverage of the outrage over the comments here.
We have made clear that the Council Leader's position is untenable.
We are also clear that reform is needed not only locally to Torbay, but also nationally, by the Party.
The Torbay scandal highlights the sheer urgency of implementing the reforms to the Party's strategy, resourcing and priorities to centre race equality that LDCRE and others have been fighting for many years.
Incremental gains are not enough - and the pace of reaching race equality in the Party must be accelerated.
We are in high-level discussions with multiple senior leaders at HQ raising your concerns, hurt, and anger over this. Change must occur. We will not shy down in holding the Party's feet to the fire on this.
Joint Statement across the Party's race equality organisations:
We are pleased to announce a joint statement from LDCRE, BLAC Liberal Democrats, Chinese Liberal Democrats, and Liberal Democrat Muslim Forum about the gravity of the need for the Party to centre race equality in its strategy and resourcing, and to implement the various race equality reviews that have gone before. This statement was drafted prior to the Torbay scandal - but the scandal highlights its need even more.
It is extremely powerful to have so many race equality organisations united in expressing their legitimate concerns to the Party. We are very grateful and pleased to have worked with our colleagues across the party's race equality organisations.
You can read the statement on Lib Dem Voice.
Fighting for Race Equality:
* Our race equality business motion, highlighting the importance of implementing the Alderdice and Thornhill review with proper resources behind it, was not accepted for Conference. We are instead putting it forwards as an amendment and have been working with others to improve its chance of being accepted for debate. If nothing else, Torbay has highlighted how much work still needs to be done on this.
* Earlier in the summer, we had meetings with Party President Mark Pack, to raise our concerns over implementing Alderdice/Thornhill. We also had meetings with LDHQ on developing a training programme around this, and we worked up an initial project plan for a subsequent working group that is being set up to create this as a result of our lobbying. We have further meetings with senior HQ officials on the back of the Torbay scandal and to further develop training programmes. The Party must sustainably ensure that local and regional parties can campaign in BAME communities effectively and that they do so in an anti-racist manner. This is crucial if we are to ensure our campaigns and policies are responsive and inclusive, and to build our electoral gains.
And our Treasurer, Michael Bukola, has written about the lost opportunity from Batley & Spen for us.
* Putting race equality at the heart of the Party is also about the Rooney Rule. This is the principle that when shortlisting candidates, at least one BAME individual should be on the final shortlist. This does not mean they are necessarily selected - it's not like an all-BAME shortlist. Fundamentally, the Party needs to be willing to make a political decision around backing the Rooney Rule. Waiting for 100% certainty is a political choice against race equality. We are continuing to push this forward and will be publishing articles explaining this further. This principle was backed by both Leadership candidates via our Race Equality pledge.
* We will be announcing a packed Conference LDCRE fringe agenda for the Federal conference - watch this space. Roderick, our Vice-Chair, has led on organizing these and will be sending out a notice of the events shortly.
* LDCRE have drafted a Race Equality amendment to the strategy motion for Federal conference. We have been working to gain widespread support - please do put in a speaker card if it is accepted for debate.
* There are many motions on the agenda that are particularly relevant to race equality - do put in speaker cards and add your voice to them. Motion that have a particularly relevance for much of race equality policy include motions on children in care/care leavers, climate change, Ugyhur genocide, party strategy, Israel-Palestine lasting peace, violence against women and girls, helping people against fraud and scams, and and ties with Europe. And the conference is virtual this year too!
* LDCRE has worked with the other SAOs on an emergency motion around Afghanistan going to Conference.
On the back of our recent members' meetings with Munira Wilson MP and Daisy Cooper MP, we had a further open meeting with Layla Moran MP earlier in the summer. We heard about Layla's work in Parliament, her work on the Coronavirus cross-party APPG, and her work as a spokesperson for foreign affairs. Layla, as have other MPs as well, backed the Rooney Rule as a principle. She also spoke about the importance we all have in finding BAME candidates to stand, backing them and supporting them, and how to help local parties with this. We will continue to work with Layla's office on this.
Congratulations to Nancy Jirira who won her by-election in Fortune Green. LDCRE held several campaigning days there - Anton Georgiou, a Brent councillor who is also on the LDCRE Executive, worked tirelessly campaigning, and was joined by many of our Exec on the doorsteps there.
In early July, Black Pride occured. Nadya, our Secretary, has written further on the importance this has. Nadya is also our rep to LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, and we have continued to work closely with them on LGBT+ issues.
We've continued lobbying Parliamentarians and attending regular diversity committees with Parliamentarians. Our Vice-Chair Janice has helped work on a letter to the Secretary of State on mandatory reporting on ethnicity pay gap and equality monitoring.
Thanks to outgoing Exec members:
We are extremely grateful to James Belchamber and Michael Bukola who will be leaving their Executive roles as we approach the AGM season. James and Michael have contributed significantly to LDCRE's work over the past year. James has helped reform our membership administration and has worked with Chris and Gaelle on improving our communications strategy, as well as on aligning our comms with our strategic priorities. Michael has for many years run the accounts (an oft-forgotten but nonetheless vital role to ensure an organisation like LDCRE can continue to exist) and been a sage source of advice for the Executive over the years. We wish them all the best in their future roles.
Do you want to help LDCRE:
As always, do get in touch if you want to volunteer or get involved in any area of LDCRE - helping us with our accounts, helping with policy, comms, or campaigning, or if you have ideas for policy or campaigning work. We are particularly on the look-out for new recruits as we head into autumn to help with communications and membership. You do not have to take a formal post to help - we are grateful for all offers of help and can work with you to develop your skills further as per your interests. Please just pop us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org