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.
Jasmin Beckett is running for NEC Youth Rep. The National Executive Committee (NEC) is the governing body of the Labour Party and is comprised of representatives from the various sections of the Labour movement: CLPs, affiliates, trade unions and politicians. The NEC Youth Rep is the voice of young members, Labour Students and the young trade unionists at the highest level of the Party.
What will you do to increase number of BAME exec members?
First off I think BAME representation is poor at every level in our party. We need more BAME MP’s, councillors, and party staff. I believe that you can’t be what you can’t see, increasing the importance of having more BAME exec members. If we ingrain a culture where it’s ordinary for BAME people to be representing the party we’ll create a more welcoming environment for all BAME people.
The party does a lot of great work with BAME Labour, but we need to go further than just training days in London. BAME Young members need to take a central role in our youth wing, and I want to work with BAME Labour to better represent them on the NEC if I’m elected. I will commit to holding an annual young BAME members event, with similar events for all the liberation groups.
We must use safe spaces to allow BAME members come together, empower one another and plan future campaigns without interference. I believe this would be the right step towards getting more BAME members onto execs in our party.
How will you diversify socials?
I think it’s incredibly important that all of Young Labour’s socials are accessible to everyone. I recently went to an Iftar during Ramadan held by a member. It was fantastic and a brand new experience for me. I think reaching out to our BAME membership to encourage more things like this would make BAME members feel more like they have a place in our party and I know that it would help non-BAME members become better allies.
We should be having regional conferences for BAME members where training and education are at the top of the agenda and doing more within the party’s structures to support BAME Labour.
I also want us to recognise BAME members face different reactions on the doorsteps to their white counterparts. I will ensure that, especially when campaigning against UKIP, BAME members feel safe on the doorstep and free from harassment.
Socials are not just about having a drink, and it is important that we hold a number of different socials, not just those based around alcohol. There are important campaigns we should be working on, challenging policies around stop and search and PREVENT laws which are discriminatory towards ethnic minorities, we can hold a number of events on these, including more informal socials which are themed on different policy areas.
Would you consider implementing targets for BAME membership?
I feel passionately that the advances we have seen for women in the party are due to targets, however, this is still primarily white women. Having targets for BAME representation should ensure that a variety of different people are represented in the party, and will also do more to help BAME women in particular.
We also need to change the culture within young Labour and I firmly believe that community relationships can make such a difference.
In Merseyside, for example, we have been into mosques and areas like Toxteth in Liverpool to talk to young people about Young Labour and why they should get involved. Just this simple reaching out tactic helped increase our BAME membership and made their communities feel more welcomed into our local party.
What are your views on BAME short lists?
I am fully supportive of them and think they would be a great way of increasing BAME representation throughout our party.
All women shortlists have hugely increased women’s representation and we must encourage the same increase with BAME representation. I’d also like to explore the possibility of all BAME Women shortlists too, to really counter the under-representation of BAME women in our party at all levels.
I’m currently gathering opinions from young members before I put together my manifesto, if you’ve got any more ideas about BAME Representation, or anything, please do fill out my survey here:
Jasmin is one of two candidates running for NEC Youth Rep. To read the other candidate, James Elliot's response, click here.