Posted on June 30, 2014

MPs Are Too White, Says David Cameron

Christopher Hope, Telegraph (London), June 29, 2014

MPs do not represent the people of Britain properly because they are too white, David Cameron has said.

The Prime Minister said there is “much more to be done” to encourage more people from ethnic minority backgrounds to enter Parliament.

Mr Cameron made the comments in a preface to a book, “Rainbow over Westminster”, which charts the increasing number of MPs who are black or from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In the preface, Mr Cameron said that the book “serves as a reminder–that there is much more to be done.

“Our Parliament is still nowhere near representative enough of the country we live in today.

“We should not presume that this will simply correct itself over time. History isn’t written for us: it is written by us.”

Mr Cameron said that he hoped the book–which is edited by the Labour MP Keith Vaz, who became the first British Indian to sit in the Commons for over 60 years when he was elected in 1987–would help “to open up politics further”.

Since the first MP was elected 172 years ago, there have been 38 ethnic minority MPs in the Commons. Today 26 out of 650 MPs are from BME backgrounds.

In the 2010 election 16 men and women from black and ethnic minority backgrounds were elected–a quintupling on the three who were elected in 1987.

In an introduction, John Bercow, the Commons’ Speaker, said: “We need to ensure that we continue to benefit from the greater diversity of elected representatives.”

Mark Hammond, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Parliament should be drawing from the widest talent pool so that people from a range of backgrounds have the opportunity to take part in political life and help make fair and well-informed decisions.”

Mr Cameron’s remarks come after research published last month from the Policy Exchange thinktank, which said that non-white people will make up between 20 and 30 per cent of the population by 2050. The current share is around 14 per cent.

The think-tank, which has close links to the Conservative Party leadership, also highlighted the differing political leanings of different ethnic groups, advising politicians not to treat non-white voters as a uniform group.

The coming growth in Britain’s non-white population is largely explained by a higher birth-rate among ethnic minority Britons.

A quarter of all children under 10 in the UK are from ethnic minorities. By contrast, 95 per cent of people aged over 60 are white.

The Conservative Party is doing more to reach out to black and ethnic minority groups, although it refuses to make such moves public.

In April, Michael Gove, the Education secretary and a Tory moderniser, issued the said the Tories should reclaim the term “multi-culturalism”.

He told an audience at the Asian Business Awards told the 500-strong black tie dinner at a hotel in central London earlier this month that Britain was a “stronger country” because of its history of immigration.

He said: “The answer to how we make our country strong in the future is that we welcome talent from whenever it comes and we celebrate the fact that we are stronger together as a United Kingdom, as a multi-cultural nation than we could ever be if we looked back to the past.”