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My name is Abdi Duale and I am the newly elected London Young Labour BAME Officer. In a city whereby more than half of the population is BAME, the importance of ensuring BAME issues are given more than adequate consideration within the structures of London Young Labour is what encouraged me to stand for it and I look forward to working with the different groups in the Labour Party to help deliver on my campaign priorities.

Various reports have highlighted the mental health stigma that exists within BAME communities, this stigma often leads to long-term mental health illnesses such as schizophrenia and in some cases suicide. A report commissioned by Lankelly Chase Foundation, Mind, The Afiya Trust and Centre for Mental Health highlights that 23% of inpatients on mental health wards or outpatients on Community Treatment Orders were from black and minority ethnic groups and that people from BAME communities are more likely to be diagnosed with severe mental illness than their non-BAME counterparts. In light of this, the London Young Labour BAME Network will for the first time be campaigning alongside different charities and organisations to break down the barriers that exist between young people of colour and mental health services.

Now more than ever is it important that advocates and allies for BAME liberation are best equipped to fight against all forms of racism. It has been particularly tragic that post-Brexit Britain has empowered far right extremists and bigots from across the political spectrum. Such an environment has seen a rise in racially-motivated hate crimes and has fermented a climate of oppression against people of an ethnic minority background - an unacceptable state of affairs. Our young members must be trained and aware of the fight against antisemitism, islamophobia, racism and all other forms of discrimination. For that reason, I have pledged to work closely with the Jewish Labour Movement & BAME Labour to provide training workshops so that our movement is truly anti-racist.

Getting to know all the structures of the party can feel like an impossible task. For many new and current members they can often be off-putting and even appear too complex, a barrier which prevents increased BAME involvement within the party and to the detriment of the Labour Party’s longstanding aim to increase BAME representation. In the summer I shall be hosting the first ever BAME Political Education Day. What this day will encompass is training to ensure our young members have the tools that they need to take up elected roles within the Labour Party and local government. Young members will be equipped with the skills to write speeches, run campaigns and use Nationbuilder to enable them to excel within the party.

I am optimistic that London Young Labour, which now has the most diverse Labour committee in the entire country, will be at the forefront of BAME liberation within the Labour Party. It will be my utmost pleasure to implement all of my campaign pledges over the coming year and I hope it will bring about a lasting change to London Young Labour.

Abdi Duale is a student at the University of Plymouth (London Campus), he studies Oil and Gas Management. Abdi joined the Labour Party after 2015 General Election defeat, he is a party activist and the Youth Officer for Ealing North CLP.

London Young Labour and BAME Liberation

My name is Abdi Duale and I am the newly elected London Young Labour BAME Officer. In a city whereby more than half of the population is BAME, the importance...

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Two years ago, I proposed a motion to the London Young Labour Conference which sought to introduce mandatory positions for black, Asian and other ethnic minority members on its 22-strong elected committee. This Committee represents over 15,000 young Labour Members across London.

Currently, there is only one position for ethnic minorities – the designated BAME Officer – whose responsibility is to ensure that the views of ethnic minorities are heard. Of the outgoing Committee, only four of 22 were from an ethnic minority.

This is despite London being the most diverse city in the UK in which nearly half of its population will be BAME at the end of the decade and ethnic minorities are projected to be the majority of under 24s.

How can we as a political party purport to serve the interests of Londoners but fail to do this in our own house? Especially in a youth organisation which aims to represent the most diverse city in our country.

There is already a rule that at least half of the elected bloc positions should be reserved for self-defining women, with an aim to increase the representation of this group. So there was precedent for affirmative action.

By just two votes that motion failed in 2015. The room was divided. Although there was a comradely debate, I recall two particular contributions from members. The first, a white man, proclaimed "with this [motion for mandatory BAME positions] and seven positions for women, what about us?" The second, from a black man, suggested this move was tokenism, promoting "special treatment".

I was not surprised by these contributions but I was disappointed that they came from Labour members. As a party, Labour prides itself on equality, extending opportunity to those who wouldn't otherwise have it; promoting progressive politics; being the voice of the ostracised. Identity politics is our politics.

Young Labour still has issues with BAME representation. As recently as last year BAME members were left feeling unwelcome and disenfranchised as the Young Labour Conference descended in to an extremely factional and hostile environment.

With this in mind, I sought to bring this motion back – cleaning-up many specifics and gaining popular support. I approached members in Labour’s moderate and Momentum faction, informing them that Young Labour needs to pave the way and if we actually want to be an inclusive organisation we need to work together – past actions cannot be sustained.

On Saturday, the motion passed unanimously, guaranteeing at least five BAME members on the elected Committee. History was made. But it's not enough and we cannot stop there. Issues surrounding race in Young Labour and the wider Party persist. Even with the passing of this motion we will face battles for our voice to be heard across Young Labour, in wider Labour Party structures and Council and Parliamentary selections. Change won't happen in a year, or even two, but it will.

Siddo is a young Labour activist and Vice Chair of Enfield North CLP. He previously served as London Young Labour BAME Officer 2015-16

History was made at the London Young Labour Conference, but we’re not done yet

Two years ago, I proposed a motion to the London Young Labour Conference which sought to introduce mandatory positions for black, Asian and other ethnic minority members on its 22-strong...

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It was a full house in committee room nine of the House of Commons, sat upon the gaze of a gargantuan portrait of Sir Robert Peel was a room was packed wall to wall with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people. Many of whom had come from across country to be at the launch of BAME Labour's mentoring and political education scheme.

The panel of Dawn Butler MP, Keith Vaz MP, Lord Paul Boateng, Professor Joke Ukemenam, Susan Matthews and Kamaljeet Jandu - the chair of BAME Labour, were adament that now is the time for BAME voices to be heard in both this party and this country. We heard, so rightly, that there was so much talent in Black and Asian communities across this country but that it wasn't reaching the highlest levels of public service. I left this event feeling genuinely optimistic and convinced we have a Labour Party comitted to reflecting the country it wants to govern and prepared to do what it takes to give BAME people a chance to lead. If ever there was a time when black voices needs to be heard, when Muslim voices need to be heard and the voices of so many ethnic communities feeling the backlash of Brexit need to be heard, it's now.

We were told how this mentoring scheme is designed to make use of talented BAME people eagerly wanting to stand up for the values of the Labour Party. I thought it was great how the scheme intends to make use of the MPs, MEPs and Lords in Labour and pairing them with BAME people across the country to develop their skills and raise up a generation of leaders and BAME people in vital roles across the country. 

When much of the rank and file of the Party and our movement is filled with BAME bodies, it's vital the ideas and leadership of the movement reflect that too. That means more BAME MPs, more BAME people on trade union councils, more BAME councillors, BAME mayors, putting BAME people on the boards of Bank of England, the BBC, the National Lottery. We desperately need this mentoring scheme. We can't let the talent in our communities go to waste, it needs to be sharpened and turned into a force to help transform this country.

For me and so many others, Labour has a proud history of being fighters for racial justice and racial equality in this country, it was this party who had the first black MPs and pushed for the first laws tackling racial discrminiation. Names like Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Keith Vaz as well as the late Bernie Grant have been stalwarts in representing BAME voices in parliament. However, as Dawn Butler rightly said, "we need to make sure what we do as a community is powerful and sustainable so that it doesn't fall away when our leaders do." We can't rely on the same people forever, I hope this mentoring scheme can ensure we have BAME people who can carry on the legacy of racial justice in Labour and be champions in their own right.

The words of Lord Boateng stuck with me particularly at the end and captured the essence of what I hope this scheme can acheive: "It won't be easy but you need to bring forward new ideas that defend the values & ideals of justice & equality we represent." It's this message that is so important and it's vital the Labour Party has a space for Black and Asian people to lead. That's why we need this mentoring scheme and why over the next few months I'll be eagerly following updates from BAME Labour on how best to take advantage of this great opportunity

Josh Jackson is a member of Young Labour and Labour Students. You can follow him on @joshuayjackson.

 

 

We Need BAME Labour's Mentoring Scheme - Here's Why

  It was a full house in committee room nine of the House of Commons, sat upon the gaze of a gargantuan portrait of Sir Robert Peel was a room...

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