Labour cannot be complacent over BAME support, says Yvette Cooper

Labour cannot afford to be complacent and assume it will continue to attract the support of a majority of black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) voters, Yvette Cooper has said.

Committing herself to leading a taskforce to improve BAME representation in Labour if she wins the leadership contest, she said the parliamentary party was still too white.

Speaking on friday, Cooper said that as leader she would commit the party to measures to improve BAME recruitment in the public sector, including possibly changing the law to allow the police to adopt affirmative action in recruitment.

A survey for the British Future thinktank conducted after the election found that about 10% of voters were BAME and that just over half of them (52%) voted Labour.

It found that the traditional Labour lead over the Tories among this group was shrinking dramatically and that this year 33% of BAME voters supported David Cameron’s party.

Cooper said Labour should set itself the goal of doubling its tally of BAME MPs. “With over a million ethnic minority voters choosing the Tories at the last election, Labour cannot be complacent,” she said. “If Labour is not representative of our voters, how can we hope to keep their support?”

She said more than 15% of Labour voters were BAME, meaning a representative parliament with a Labour majority should have at least 49 BAME Labour MPs. The party currently has 23.

Cooper said the party should investigate how shortlists could be made more representative, including how bursary schemes could help.

She also said she would commit the party to measures to make the police, the armed forces and the civil service more representative of the communities they serve.

She would give the police a statutory duty to increase diversity, and consult on changing the law to allow forces to adopt affirmative action recruitment policies, she said.

Powered by article was written by Andrew Sparrow Senior political correspondent, for on Friday 26th June 2015 11.40 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010