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Motion carried with amendment: Improving the Diversity of our MPs

March 12, 2011 4:32 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Federal Executive
Mover: Jo Shaw
Summation: Baroness Falkner

Conference notes with concern that at the General Election in 2010, the party did not improve the number of women MPs, and does not have any black or minority ethnic (BAME) MPs at present. Conference also notes that in June 2010, the President and Leader asked Federal Executive to commission a Candidates Review, to be written by Sal Brinton, and following the Diversity Motion passed at Federal Conference in September 2010, the Federal Executive asked Sal Brinton to extend the scope of her review to address the issues covered in the motion, and to propose a course of action for the party to address the diversity deficit, and to improve it at the next general Election.

Conference further notes that the Party is clearly divided over the issue of compulsory short lists (all women short lists, and a percentage of BAME candidates).

Conference therefore agrees:

1. That Diversity champions should be mainstreamed throughout the party: the only way to improve the diversity of our MPs is to improve the diversity of our party itself:

a) Regions will set themselves targets for improving the diversity of approved candidates, Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs), Assessment Centre staff and Returning Officers.
b) Regions and local parties will actively encourage members and supporters from under-represented groups to become more active in the party, including standing for election.

2. The creation of a Leadership Programme for outstanding candidates from under-represented groups, which will:

a) Have a maximum number of approved candidates, with a minimum of 30 by the end of 2011, and within that, 50% of the places will be reserved for women, and 20% for those from BAME backgrounds, 10% for those with disabilities and finally ensuring that all other under-represented groups are considered within the remaining 20% of places including those who are openly 'out' Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender candidates and those from lower income backgrounds.
b) Provide advanced training and support, particularly in media, leadership and team building skills, and fundraising.
c) Provide mentoring and coaching from the moment they are approved as a candidate until after the election day.
d) Offer them opportunities to shadow a Parliamentarian.
e) Raise funds to provide practical support to PPCs from under-represented groups.

3. Selection for the Leadership Programme will be based on competencies, references and an interview with the Programme Panel, and membership of the Panel will be agreed and might include an MP, a Peer, a Federal Executive representative, a Campaigns representative and a member of the Diversity Engagement Group, with the process to be run by the Diversity Unit at Federal Party Headquarters.

4. Where candidates from the Leadership Programme apply to a priority seat at least two candidates from the Leadership Programme should be shortlisted on their short list.

5. Groups of Development Seats should get together to advertise and recruit PPCs in clusters, using the Region's targets for shortlisting (eg 50% women candidates, and a relevant local ethnic minority percentage.

6. The Federal Executive should review progress of the Leadership Programme and the other arrangements in the Candidates Review in 2013, and consider more urgent action if not sufficient candidates from under-represented groups have been selected in our priority seats.

Applicability: Federal.