BRITAIN’S parliament could be the most diverse ever – with 67 ethnic minority MPs – when the results of the December 12 election are announced next month, a leading thinktank has predicted.
There were 52 BAME MPs when parliament was dissolved in October, in the run up to the general election, with Labour accounting for 31 representatives, the Conservatives 19 and Liberal Democrats three.
Analysis by the thinktank British Future showed that there would be 67 ethnic minority MPs if each party were to win the constituencies that it won at the previous General Election – with potentially 44 Labour MPs, 21 Conservative MPs and two Liberal Democrats MPs from an ethnic minority background.
British Future director Sunder Katwala said last Wednesday (13): “The next parliament looks set to be our most-diverse ever – with more ethnic minority candidates likely to be elected whichever way the political pendulum swings on election night.
“Ethnic diversity has become a ‘new normal’ in British politics, across parties, and we should expect to see rising diversity in our parliament given the growing diversity. “De-
pending on results, it’s possible that one in 10 MPs will be from an ethnic minority background – a first for our parliament. Just a decade ago that figure was one in 40.”
Keith Vaz, Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Bernie Grant were the first BAME MPs elected in 1987. Labour’s Vaz announced recently he would not stand for re-election in Leicester East.
When he became prime minister in July this year, prime minister Boris Johnson announced the UK’s most diverse cabinet ever, with two Asians holding the great offices of state (chancellor Sajid Javid and home secretary Priti Patel) and 11 BAME parliamentarians in top government positions.
Katwala said: “The gap between parliament and the society is represents is now closing – but there is still work to do to match the electorate, estimated to be around 12 per cent BME and rising. “The (political) parties took the chance to play catch-up with a late
divers ty surge. It’s welcome that they have acted, but it’s clear a deeper cultural
change is needed if our politics is to be as diverse at the grassroots as it is at the top.”
Analysis by British Future shows that the Tories could potentially win 22 seats where the party has an ethnic minority candidate – so the party appears likely to elect between 20 and 24 ethnic minority MPs in this election. Among its Asian candidates are Saqib Bhatti in Meriden where he will be defending a majority of 19,198 and Gagan Mohindra in South West Hertfordshire, which had a majority of 19,550 and is regarded as a safe seat.
There are 30 Labour candidates seeking re-election to parliament in their current seats and 14 new candidates have been chosen to defend seats the party won in 2017. Twelve of the 14 new BAME candidates defending Labour seats are favourites to win, British Future research predicted.
Among them is Nav Mishra in Stockport, defending a majority of 14,477; Claudia Webbe in Leicester East (majority of 22,428); Apsana Begum in Poplar and Limehouse (27,212) and Tahir Ali in Birmingham Green (33,944).
The Liberal Democrats have three ethnic minority MPs. Layla Moran elected in Oxford West and Abingdon was the party’s first ethnic minority MP for some time; she was later joined by Chuka Umunna and Sam Gyimah who both defected and joined the Lib Dems under party leader Jo Swinson. The party looks set to elect between two and eight ethnic minority MPs in next month’s general election. Munira Wilson is expected to win in Twickenham, defending a majority of 9,762, according to the British Future analysis.