Dale wrong on BME candidates

Iain Dale today writes that "Tories have more BME candidates than Labour." He is wrong: Labour has 42 black and minority ethnic candidates to the Conservative's 38.

Iain Dale today writes that “Tories have more BME candidates than Labour.” He is wrong: Labour has 44 BME candidates to the Conservative’s 38.

To be fair, Dale took his total from Operation Black Vote, which excluded 12 Labour MPs who are standing again. Dale writes:

“Yesterday, Operation Black Vote eulogised about the 30 BME candidates Labour has standing for them at the next election. It was very strange that the author of the piece, Lester Holloway, made no mention of the fact that at the last election the Conservatives had more BME candidates than Labour (41 to 32), a fact which is probably going to be repeated at the forthcoming election. The Conservatives have selected 38 BME candidates so far.”

That said, the crucial point is not the number of PPCs but the number who make it to Parliament. At the last election, just 2 of the Conservative’s 41 black or minority ethnic PPCs were returned (4.8 per cent) compared to 13 of Labour’s 32 (40.6 per cent). The Liberal Democrats returned no BME candidates.

Labour also have 20 PPCs in seats currently held by sitting Labour MPs while the Tories have just four. Dale predicts that 13 will be returned this time (34.2 per cent) but this is presumably based on his projection of an overall majority for the Tories.

Meanwhile, on the day that Harriet Harman raises again the issue of class, the GMB have published an analysis of the occupations of Tory candidates. It shows that of the 537 candidates and existing MP selected to stand 96 per cent of Tory candidates at next general election are from the top three (of ten) occupational groups. These are managers and senior officials; professional occupations; and associate professional and technical occupations. Of this group, 63 are from the banking and finance industry.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary said:

“People from lower social backgrounds are particularly scarce among the Tory candidates at the next election.Less than 1% come from the six lower occupational groups employing 56% of the UK workforce.

UPDATE 16.37:

The OBV article also omitted the selections of Victor Agarwal in North Swindon and
Dr Amanjit Singh Jhund in Windsor. An earlier version excluded these PPCs and wrongly stated that Labour only had 42 BME PPCs. It is actually 44 as the corrected article outlines.

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26 Responses to “Dale wrong on BME candidates”

  1. Tom Miller

    Victor managed to keep his selection secret until very recently. I only found out about it yesterday! He’s a wily one.

  2. Kasch Wilder

    RT BME PPCs: @iaindale is wrong. Labour have 42 candidates to the Tories' 38. Tory list also has a touch of class http://bit.ly/7WFY6u

  3. Lester Holloway

    Will, can you read? The article you refer to is specifically about NEW Black Labour candidates who are not currently MPs. I made clear in the article that Labour already have 13 sitting MPs. Here’s the full article: http://operationblackvote.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/labours-new-generation/

    Also, if you look at the date of the article you’ll see that it was written BEFORE Victor Agarwal was selected. But when it happened, we covered it on the same day: http://operationblackvote.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/labour-pick-10th-new-bme-candidate-in-winnable-seat/

    I also don’t think Amanjit Singh Jhund had been selected when the main article was written.

  4. Mark Gale

    RT: @KaschWilder: @iaindale is wrong. Labour have 42 candidates to the Tories' 38. Tory list also has a touch of class http://bit.ly/7WFY6u

  5. Ruwan Fernando

    This is interesting, Will, but, in particular, would benefit from a comparisson with the occupational backgrounds of the other main parties’ candidates.

  6. Michael

    You talk about ‘BME’ candidates as if they’re pin-badges to be collected, rather than individuals elected to serve. Comparing your BME candidates as if they were collector trophies might well be legitimately interpreted as at best distasteful, and at worst bordering on racist. This really is poor form.

  7. Mark

    You beat me to it Michael. Boasting of the numbers is embarrassing and factional.

    But Will Straw makes a good point, the number of candidates doesn’t matter, it’s the number of MPs. But since the Tories tend to represent rural seats compared to Labour’s urban constituencies, is it not actually representative for Labour to have more “BME”?

  8. Joe

    I don’t think correcting Ian Dale is poor form; take a look at his blog if you think listing BME candidates is in anyway like displaying trophies. Seeing PMs as individuals elected to serve is also slightly misleading given the importance of the party selection process, and the way individuals are selected for winnable seats.

  9. Joe

    MPs I mean…

  10. Quietzapple

    Sir @IainDale is a pointless, losing propagandist RT @leftfootfwd
    BME PPCs: @iaindale wrong Lab 42 Con 38. http://bit.ly/7WFY6u @psbook

  11. Political Scrapbook

    Chill out, Lester! Will wasn’t rubbishing your report just pointing out that Dale was comparing apples and oranges.

  12. Come check out my BME collection « Outside In

    […] of political peacocking from two leading bloggers today – Iain Dale over on his blog, and Will Straw over at Left Foot […]

  13. Michael

    @Joe – I think Dale’s post was distasteful too, and I have blogged about it here – http://wp.me/pJiP0-3E

    Straw was responding to Dale, Dale was responding to Operation Black Vote, and all of them are just ‘presenting facts’ – I don’t think that makes the debate any less ominous

  14. Anon E Mouse

    It’s 2010 for heavens sake. Why is anyone discussing colour – well done for pointing this out Will…

  15. Krupesh Hirani

    Nonetheless, well done to both the parties for making an effort to better BME representation in Parliament. Any signs of the Lib Dems increasing their total of 0 BME MPs?

  16. John Booth

    Pff, why is Lester acting like he has a stick up his ass? Perhaps if OBV were more successful, we wouldn’t be arguing over such small numbers anyway.

  17. Sunny H

    Comparing your BME candidates as if they were collector trophies might well be legitimately interpreted as at best distasteful, and at worst bordering on racist

    No – people always get confused by this. Racism is actual discrimination on the basis of race: like racial profiling. Just talking about someone’s race doesn’t make you racist any more than mentioning the fact someone is gay automatically makes you a homophobe.

  18. Will Straw

    Thanks for the comments:

    Michael – if we are to advance the level of representation in Parliament, how can we possibly do so without talking about it. Sunny is spot on here. I give credit to the Tories for increasing the number of BME candidates (and likely the number of BME MPs after the election). But Dale was also right to write, “if BME people make up 8% of the electorate each party ought to be fielding 52 candidates.” We are some way off this so there is no reason to brag. I don’t think there was anything triumphalist in my blog and was careful to ensure that was the case.

    Mark – under your logic, the two parties should have the same number of BME PPCs (not currently the case) but Labour should have more MPs (currently the case by 13 to 2).

    Ruwan – Good question. I asked GMB the same and they said they hadn’t done the analysis. I would be happy to publish a similar study of Labour and Lib Dems.

    Lester – As PS says, I was responding to Dale (who misunderstood your study) not casting aspersions on it.

  19. Michael

    @Will – rubbish, quite frankly. If you cheer on candidacy and success by skin colour and/or ethnicity, then your criteria is based on race. That makes it a racist worldview – whether positive or negative, it is racist. And when you start arguing with each other over who has the most – it’s distasteful, disrespectful, and somewhat dehumanising.

    @Sunny – would you not call this whole debate ‘actual discrimination on the basis of race’, considering, after all, that the candidates on any BME list are only there because of their, err, race or ethnicity. You seem to be suggesting that only discriminating *against* people because of their ethnicity is racist – I’m suggesting that chopping up segments of PCCs according to their skin colour, and then basking in the subliminal ‘progressive’ warmth that flows from it, illustrates a rather worrying and somewhat sinister underlying prejudice – it’s racist.

  20. Will Straw


    By your logic, Operation Black Vote and the Commission for Equality and Human Rights are both racist organisations. If that’s your view, fine. Mine is that there is a place for talking about race as a means of driving greater equality.

    Best wishes,


  21. Liz McShane

    Michael – we live in a diverse/multi-cultural society (thank God) so it is natural to think that our political representatives should reflect this and not just in terms of race/ethnicity but also gender. If you think that it is fine for the UK to be governed by a group of white middle class males that’s your choice but it is hardly fair. So I really do not understand why you have a problem with this.

  22. Michael

    Previous debate considered, it seems rather closer to the fact that there is a place for talking about race so long as it can be used to secure a politically valuable ‘progressive’ agenda.

  23. Michael

    @Liz – please do tell me wherever I said that? I am the one arguing against racism – and suggesting that those candidates appearing on these BME lists might have reason to feel a little peeved, considering their manifest talents and positive contributions seem, in the minds of some, to be placed second to their skin colour.

    Do please try and keep up with the debate – or at least reflect on the argument a little more thoughtfully.

  24. Liz McShane

    Michael – my post as based on your last post:

    …”@Will – rubbish, quite frankly. If you cheer on candidacy and success by skin colour and/or ethnicity, then your criteria is based on race.”…

    It is not cheering candidacy on at all – just simply ensuring that our political representatives reflect the diverse make-up of our society. I stand by my last post entirely.

  25. Michael

    @Liz – then you continue to miss the point



  26. Liz McShane

    Michael – the tone of your post sounds rather sceptical that’s all – especially the use of the term ‘cheering on’….

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