Debate Magazine

Why Black and Asian Lib Dems and Labour Should Talk

Posted on the 19 July 2013 by Lesterjholloway @brolezholloway

imag0220Despite the political and philosophical differences between Labour and the Liberal Democrats there are many policy areas in which the social-democrat Left and Socialists can agree.

The Labour think-tank Compass has already sought to foster greater dialog between progressive wings of the parties to seek a consensus which presents a distinctive alternative to Conservative-dominated policies of the coalition.

I am sure many positions advocated by the Social Liberal Forum within the Lib Dems on economic strategy, equality and social mobility would be welcomed by the less tribal within Labour. Speeches by Vince Cable and Steve Webb at the SLF conference in Manchester last weekend would not be out of place in a Left-leaning think tank.

By the same token Ed Miliband has made speeches on civil liberties, acknowledging where the previous Labour government had made mistakes, and is apparently planning more occasions where he can build on this approach.

I have myself argued on this blog that the need for a progressive alliance should take precedence over local tribal divides.

This dialog should, in my view, take place on several fronts. The renewal of the Green Agenda within the Lib Dems should surely find echoes in the Michael Jacobs’ wing of Labour’s environmentalists.

And so too, we need greater communication between black, Asian and minority ethnic members in both parties.

The BAME Labour group holds its’ annual conference tomorrow in central London without any Lib Dem guests.

Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats’ recent race equality conference – which I was involved in organising – invited several Labour-supporting speakers to share their perspectives. And EMLD’s stop and search working group is also consulting experts in the field who would not ordinarily be party supporters.

I see no bar to dialog on issues where we can share experiences and expertise. We need to pull together to develop more policies for tackling race inequality in Britain and to gain greater strength to push for our respective party’s to adopt such policies.

As I wrote in 2011, there are areas of race equality where the Lib Dems can benefit from Labour, and there are areas where the opposite is the case.

Our parties may be in different places on different issues, philosophically and evolutionary, but there is certainly common ground and scope for talking and cooperating occasionally, just as African and Caribbean and Asian communities joined forces to fight for greater race equality.

I write in a personal capacity as this question has not been addressed by EMLD, however I remain optimistic that BAME members of Labour and the Lib Dems can build dialog for the benefit of both parties just as elements of our parties are coming together on other issues.

By Lester Holloway @brolezholloway

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