Mouthpiece: End political inequalities

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More must be done to engage with ethnic communities, says Foysol Choudhury

With council elections in Edinburgh just weeks away, we asked members of the five main parties at City Chambers why there were no candidates from the black and ethnic minority community in the list of hopefuls.

The current make-up of the council is unrepresentative but now it seems we will see another five years without any black or ethnic minority voices. This is a failure on the part of all the parties.

It is unacceptable in a democratic society. As was admitted by all party leaders at the meeting, the membership of BME people in the various political parties was insignificant and no BME person was selected to compete in the forthcoming elections.

The 2001 census shows that the BME population in Edinburgh was four per cent. This figure is expected to rise to double digits. We deserve a political system that reflects the multicultural nature of our society.

There is an urgent need for all parties to actively have programmes that will promote inclusion of the BME community in the political process. This includes visits to BME organisations to increase membership of political parties and to allocate winnable seats to BME candidates.

Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council proposes a mentoring programme that will enable members from the BME community to engage with different political parties. This will provide an opportunity for parties to explain the system, to assist BME people to join parties and to encourage them to be leaders and representatives of parties in future elections.

n Foysol Choudhury MBE is chair of Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council