At Spring Conference our members voted to help deliver Tim Farron’s vision of a gender balanced and more diverse parliamentary party at the next General Election.
Tim’s goal of having at least 50% female MPs, and at least 10% black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) MPs will be pursued by an ambitious and comprehensive package of measures, agreed overwhelmingly by party members. Every method available under the law will be used to improve the diversity of our MPs.
Currently, the Equalities Act allows political parties to use all-women shortlists, on the basis that women are not a minority group, and all-disabled shortlists in recognition of the additional physical and financial barriers facing candidates with disabilities.
To fast-track this ambition, Lib Dem members have voted to use all-women shortlists in a targeted and limited way: namely, where any of the party’s current MPs decide to stand down, and in one additional winnable seat in each qualifying region. In addition, any local party will be able to vote for an all-women shortlist or an all-disabled shortlist, and reserve some spaces on the shortlist for candidates from other minority groups (BAME and LGBT+).
But this doesn’t help everyone. The law doesn’t allow political parties to have all-BAME or all LGBT+ shortlists. We will be campaigning to extend the Equalities Act to these groups too.
In the Party’s top 60 or so seats, two candidates from underrepresented groups will need to be short-listed, and in the top 75 seats, local parties will have to prove that they have taken serious steps to go out and find candidates from underrepresented groups, before they can start their selection process.
Every measure available under the law will be used to improve the diversity of our MPs
This approach was used by Justin Trudeau - the Liberal Prime Minister in Canada. Last year, Trudeau swept his party to power from third place and swiftly appointed a gender balanced cabinet. The Canadian Liberals also elected 44 new female MPs through this shortlisting process.
We will also now work out ways to make it easier for those from other disadvantaged backgrounds to become candidates.
With this action plan agreed, Tim Farron and President Sal Brinton will soon appoint a Diversity Champion and a Task Force to drive a programme of recruitment. It is hoped that a new generation of diverse Liberal Democrat MPs will boost the party’s fight back to build a Liberal Britain.
- Daisy Cooper