Next year, youth elections will be held for Young Labour. BAME Labour asked young BAME Labour members questions that they wanted to ask the candidates. We forwarded them to candidates for National Chair of Young Labour, the NEC Youth Rep and London Young Labour Chair. Here are their responses.
Rachael Ward is running for Chair of London Young Labour.
What will you do to increase the number of BAME exec members on committees?
London Young Labour doesn’t really do enough to encourage members to stand in elections, particularly those from under-represented caucuses.
This year London Young Labour has hosted weekly forums on a range of issues, and they’ve been a great way for members to feed into how the organisation should work.
Next year I would encourage all Liberation Officers to put together forums or feedback sessions where members can talk about the barriers there are to participation, and direct the committee to act.
LYL also needs to be running forums and campaigning on issues that predominately affect BAME young people. For example, campaigning to tackle the Metropolitan Police Service’s disproportionate use of Stop and Search against young BAME people, and campaigning against the cuts to education that are disproportionately affecting the prospects of young BAME people.
In the run up to our own elections, I also want LYL to be running events targeted at encouraging BAME members to put themselves forward.
How will you diversify socials?
The high percentage of pub-orientated socials in the Labour Party is a big problem. Not only are they off-putting to non-drinkers and under-18s, they can also result in those who don’t want to go drinking missing out on bonding and conversations, which more than just giving a bad case of FOMO, can actually have political ramifications, especially when politics can be so clique driven.
During my time on committee I have consistently argued that no event should take place in a venue where under 18s cannot attend. I have also (unsuccessfully) argued on committee that when we are fortunate to get 3rd party sponsorship for our events this money should not be spent behind the bar, but instead on more inclusive treats like providing free lunch or coffee.
I want LYL to be an inclusive environment for everyone in it, so next year I will make sure we run a range of socials – from film nights, sports, to yes the occasional pub night.
If elected I pledge that all socials should be held in venues where they can be enjoyable regardless of whether you’re drinking, and that our limited funds will not be spent subsiding alcohol, which is by definition exclusionary to large sections of our membership.
Would you consider implementing targets for BAME membership and representation?
Where we have panels and speakers, London Young Labour needs to ensure that the panels are not all white and our speakers are diverse. Beyond this, LYL needs to increase the number of BAME young members active in the organisation at a grassroots level too.
LYL has in effect two kinds of membership – our ‘paper membership’ (which is thousands), and our less-well defined ‘active membership’ or people who turn up to events or express interest in them.
It would be hard for LYL to set targets for our paper membership, as we currently don’t even get access to this data (although I will lobby for this!), but I would like to see us set targets for our active membership.
We currently set up Eventbrite registration for every event that we run, and I would include on the Eventbrite registration forms an optional Diversity and Equality section so that LYL can start proactively monitoring how we are doing in terms of diversity in our active membership.
If we identified patterns of attendance at different events, LYL committee would then be able to investigate why, so that we can take action accordingly.
What are your views on BAME shortlists?
I’m open to them, but before it became Labour Party policy I would want to know more about details such as how the constituencies are decided and how they interact with All Women Shortlists.
I’m glad it is something that we saw trialled in the in the run-up to the 2015 General Election, in Edmonton.
I also think that in any kind of list system (such European Parliament) Labour should implement BAME quotas (along with a corresponding ‘zipping system’).
Rachael is one of two candidates running for Chair of London Young Labour. To read the other candidate, Ben Butterworth's response, click here.