Susan Matthews, Unite’s BAME representative on its NEC spoke passionately as a proud black woman in support of having a minimum number of places reserved for BAME candidates.
Unite’s political strategy seeks to correct a democratic deficit by increasing working class representation in Parliament. When we look at the green benches in the Commons now compared to 10, 15 years ago, we can see how the All Women Shortlists have made a difference. Unite believes that now we need radical measures to resolve the gross under representation of BAME Parliamentary candidates.
Speaking from the conference platform Susan said she was extremely proud of her union, Unite and all her comrades who have supported the struggle for greater diversity, participation and representation throughout our Labour movement.
Telling conference that at a time of economic crisis and increased discrimination, racism, inequality and Tory driven poverty, BAME and specifically black women are some of the worst affected.
“Our voices must be heard” she declared.
“It is our responsibility to build fair representation and equality and continue the work to make it effective so that Labour properly reflects all our diverse communities in our society.”
Susan ended with this rallying cry, “Black/BAEM power is giving power to people who have not had power to determine their own destiny.
“Designating BAME representation with priority selections in shortlists will go some way to achieving this.”