Firstly, congratulations to the new members on the Executive - Jill Hope has joined us as Secretary and Cllr William Houngbo has joined us as an Exec Member.
William is Lib Dem Councillor for London Bridge and West Bermondsey (where he is re-standing for election) and Deputy Opposition Leader. He is originally from the Benin Republic in West Africa and was raised in Paris.
Jill has been a Councillor in Northamptonshire, is Vice-Chair of West Northamptonshire Lib Dems and was previously Chair of South Northants Lib Dems. She also has experience as a former Manager of Candidates and Diversity in HQ.
We also are keenly looking for people with an interest in helping with the fundraising/numbers side, or helping with the membership development or data side. If administration, numbers, members, or data is your thing, please get in touch. No experience needed as we can help with handovers and developing skills if you are interested in a role on the Committee.
This year is a busy year for elections - including for members of our Executive.
Cllr Anton Georgiou, our Comms Officer, is up for re-election in Brent. Cllr Rabina Khan, our Exec Member, is also running in her Mayoral election in Tower Hamlets. You can read more in the local press. Watch their websites for further details of upcoming action days.
Lastly, Vikas Aggrawal has been selected for the Party's Stellar programme's first cohort. Congratulations!
LDCRE are continuing to work with different wings of the Party on several key planks of our strategy.
The first is pushing the concept of Rooney Rule for council elections and Westminster elections. This is the principle of ensuring at least one person on a shortlist is a BAME candidate for consideration for selection for a seat. English Council in principle approved a similar idea for people with disabilities for PPC selections, and the Leader agreed to our race equality pledge on this while running for the leadership. We have had a number of Parliamentarians also back this.
Now - we have had a very interesting success, of a sort, on this.
In our most recent meeting with the English Party's officers, we heard that in our advanced seat selections, in every seat for which there was a BAME applicant, at least 1 BAME applicant was shortlisted. In a third of the cases, significantly more than 1 BAME applicant was shortlisted.
In other words, the minimum requirement of a Rooney Rule for English selections has been met this year even though it's not in force as a rule.
Though it's the end result of how many BAME candidates end up in winnable seats or in Parliament that is ultimately a sign of success, this does appear to be a key success on the way there in the work we've been doing to ensure adequate representation throughout selection processes, as well as the long battle to get such data collected and used better by various parts of the Party.
We will be continuing to work with the English Party to better spread our lessons and messages with Regional Party Chairs and others. We are also keen to ensure the Party does not forget diversity in less winnable seats or local elections, when these are the seats where target seat candidates gain experience and skills.
The second is around improving the Party's targeting and campaigning.
We are working with HQ on collecting easy exemplar material of campaigns that have gone from zero to success by campaigning successfully in racially inclusive ways, reaching diverse BAME communities. If you want to help us with examples of what has worked in your area, please get in touch with us. Related to this, we have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes on helping the Party reform data collection processes so they collect and display relevant data for BAME statistics in local areas.
Last but not least, we have had several outcomes start to emerge from our work over the years with HQ. These include:
Our Chair, Mohsin, wrote a piece in Lib Dem Voice at the end of winter against the Government's attempts to weaken citizenship laws.
Read the piece
Our Peers put down two amendments in the Lords - one to restrict the Home Secretary's powers by requiring to apply to a court, raising the bar for deprivation to being 'necessary in the interests of national security', preventing statelessness and limiting deprivation to those who acquire citizenships, and the best interests of children to be taken in account. This is in keeping with much of Lib Dem policy that LDCRE and the Lib Dem Muslim Forum worked to craft and get through Conference a few years back. The other amendment was to require the Government to ratify the 1997 European Convention on Nationality.
Lord Paddick and Baroness Hamwee spoke in favour of the amendments in Committee Stage on 27 January and 1 February. You can read the transcripts in Hansard:
We will be watching the further Parliamentary stages and continuing to lobby on this.
Roderick Lynch, one of our Vice-Chairs, organised a very successful fringe event at Spring Conference - on where we are after Alderdice and Thornhill, how far have we come and what's next. We also saw the Federal Board reforms, after amendment, go through - this also comes off the back of some of the work in Thornhill.
Lastly, we wish all those celebrating Ramadan in this month of April, a Ramadan Mubarak from all of us at LDCRE. Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar - a time of self-disclipine, as well as of charity, compassion and helping others. We also have Easter coming this April, so a Happy Easter to all. We've had Lunar New Year earlier in February, as well as the UK Race Equality Week in mid-February, and Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, and Purim and Noorooz in March. Due to technical difficulties, we couldn't send out newsletter notices celebrating these at the time - but we'd just like to take this opportunity now to wish all those who did or will celebrate or participate in these events warmest wishes from us at LDCRE.