THE chairman of Edinburgh’s racial equality body is bidding to become Labour candidate for Alistair Darling’s seat at next year’s election.
But Foysol Choudhury said while the party could decide to promote an all-women shortlist in a bid to boost female representation, it had no similar measures to ensure people from ethnic minorities were selected.
Long-serving councillor Ricky Henderson has already declared his interest in the Edinburgh South-West seat following Mr Darling’s decision to stand down. The constituency stretches from Gorgie and Dalry to Currie and Balerno.
City Chambers colleague Councillor Norma Austin Hart is also expected to put her name forward.
She said she would welcome an all-women shortlist, pointing out only one of Edinburgh’s five current MPs was a woman.
But Mr Choudhury, chair of Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council, said there were no Labour minority ethnic councillors, MSPs or MPs in the city.
He said all parties had fallen short when it came to ensuring ethnic minority representation.
“I’m not against 50-50 for women and men, but at the same time there should be a policy for including minorities,” he said.
Mr Choudhury, who was born in Bangladesh but grew up in Edinburgh, is on Labour’s approved list of candidates.
He said: “I am very sad that Alistair Darling is standing down after many years of distinguished service.
“I have a long association with the Dalry area and I am interested in standing in the constituency and look forward to the opportunity to do so.”
He said he felt his many years working for all communities in the Capital and his role at the forefront of equalities issues made him well placed to represent the constituency.
He said: “I note that it is policy on occasions for the Labour party to designate vacated seats as ‘women-only’ shortlists and note Norma Austin Hart’s comment about having only one woman MP in the city.
“However, it’s worth noting that there are no Labour party minority ethnic councillors, MSPs or MPs in the city.
“I am hoping that in the true spirit of equality espoused by the Labour Party, and Labour Party values themselves, that I would be given the opportunity to be in contention as the MP for this constituency and with the support of local people be the first ethnic minority MP to represent an Edinburgh seat.”
A Labour spokesman stressed no decision had been made about the selection process in Edinburgh South-West.
He added: “The Scottish Labour Party is proud of its record in securing candidates from a range of backgrounds, including from black and minority ethnic communities.”