Debate Magazine

My Resignation from the Party’s London Region Executive

Posted on the 18 February 2014 by Lesterjholloway @brolezholloway

me-lib-dem-london-conf-300Today I have resigned from the London Regional Executive of the Liberal Democrats over the behavior of one of its’ leading activists, Pete Dollimore.

Mr Dollimore’s reaction to an email sent this morning by my Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats (EMLD) colleague Cllr Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera, over the failure to involve me in discussions about targeting the BAME media, was unacceptable.

Cllr Uduwerage-Perera, vice-chair of EMLD,  sent a constructive email to the London chair, Mike Tuffery, copied to the regional Executive, in which he politely pointed out that I had many years’ experience of working in the BAME media and that the London region should utilise the talents available to it. His email concluded by positively offering any help and support the region needed.

Mr Dollimore’s angry reaction, and complaint about Cllr Uduwerage-Perera to party headquarters, was for me the last straw.

My resignation means the London region executive is now all-white, despite representing a multicultural city with a BAME population of almost 40 percent.

This is my second brush with Mr Dollimore following what I considered to be rude behavior in April last year.

I have seen communications today insisting that discussions around the targeting of BAME media was not an official London regional initiative, and I fully accept that this may have never been discussed at an executive meeting.

Nevertheless there was a discussion involving members of the region about targeting the BAME media which I was not involved in, even though I have 13 years experience in the field including serving as Editor of the New Nation newspaper, News Editor at The Voice and Reporter at Eastern Eye.

However that is not the reason for my resignation. It is the reaction after this was pointed out.

Having only recently been elected to the London region executive I did not take resigning lightly. I am passionate about Lib Dems in London reaching out to the capital’s BAME communities and being more representative. And I have advocated this over a long period of time.

But activists also have a right to be respected. In a few short months I have witnessed Mr Dollimore react rudely to two members, both who happen to be from a BAME background, plus myself.

I am not suggesting that he is prejudiced in any way; I have no evidence to suggest that he is and I am willing to state for the record that I do not believe him to be racist at all.

After I resigned, I saw an email in which Mr Dollimore admits he may have over-reacted. Again, in my opinion.

There will no doubt be the usual suspects who will accuse me of troublemaking, but the reality is I am standing up for my right to be respected and involved.

Too many activists treat the party as their social club, and welcome newcomers so long as those newbies do not suggest doing things differently. Heaven-forbid they should suggest that the membership of that club needs to change.

But the party is not a social club with door-knocking day trips, it is a place where ideas should be debated and challenged, and lack of diversity requires challenge as well as gentle persuasion.

I was enthusiastic about contributing my ideas as to how the London region can connect to the capital’s diverse communities, but at the same time I and am not prepared to be treated, or see friends and colleagues, treated disrespectfully.

Lester Holloway

Member – National Equality Policy Working Group

Member – National Race Equality Taskforce

Secretary – Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats

Councillor – LB of Sutton

(Picture: Me speaking at a London region annual conference last year)

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