Last year the Liberal Democrat frontbencher Jenny Willot had the cheek to claim that “Labour are failing on ethnic minority employment”. Perhaps the so-called ‘real opposition’ should start by employing some ethnic minorities on their own green benches?
As Iain Dale blogged yesterday, Liberal Democrats do not have a single MP (or MEP for that matter) from a black or Asian background. The post was in response to comments from Lynne Featherstone, who was asked why this was the case:
“We don’t have any safe seats where you can just place people, you have to earn your spurs in the Lib Dems.” – Lynne Featherstone
Featherstone’s complacency clearly runs through the party’s top brass, which has no ethnic minority candidates in their top 25 target seats and only one in a conceivably winnable constituency. Plumbing the dark depths of the Liberal Democrats top 100 PPCs only turns up a total of just four minority candidates. In contrast, Labour have 12 black and asian MPs already. The Conservatives have two with an expection of increasing this significantly in May 2010.
The only ethnic minority Liberal Democrat MP was Parmjit Singh Gill. Gill won a by-election in their current 29th target seat of Leicester South 2004 only to be beaten by Labour a year later at the general election. He is contesting the constituency once more and a swing of 4.4% away from Labour would overturn a majority of 3,725 and see Gill returned to Westminster again. Assuming the Tories hold off marginal challenges from the Liberals, a swing of this magnitude would see Cleggover gain ten seats.
But no one else has a hope in hell. Zuffar Haq would need to unseat Tory Edward Garnier in Harborough (target #31), who, completely untainted by the expenses scandal, is sitting pretty with a majority of 3,892 and an inevitable national swing to the Conservatives. The other two PPCs are Afzal Anwar in Pendle (target #53) and Qassim Afzal in Manchester Gorton (target #73).
Gregg Dyke once said that the BBC was “hideously white”.
You can add the Liberal Democrats to that list.