Right of Reply: Lee Jasper

The director of the 1990 Trust responds to yesterday's report that Labour has few minority candidates for the Greater London Authority

TWO YEARS ago, Government ministers came to address meetings held by Operation Black Vote and Black Londoners for a Strategic Authority. They promised that Labour would address the concerns of London's ethnic minorities.

Two years on, we have arrived at the position that many black people feared. I remember Nick Raynsford MP, the Minister for London, saying at one of these meetings: "If the membership of the Greater London Authority fails to represent the diversity of the people, I will consider the Assembly a failure."

The Labour Party is an institution like any other. If institutional racism pervades the police force and the Home Office, this parasite is equally at home in the Labour Party and the Labour Government.

The Labour Party has been taking the votes of the black communities for granted. Britain's ethnic minority communities are poorly rewarded for their devotion to Labour. No MSPs in Scotland. No Assembly members in Wales. If Labour were serious about ensuring that ethnic minority candidates were selected for GLA constituency seats, they would have grouped the seats into threes and asked party members to select one man, one woman, and one ethnic.

Failing this, the Labour Party will have to consider setting aside seats for which there should be an all-black shortlist. For those who believe that this would just create a new class of rabid, radical black politicians, it is interesting to recall that the only sitting MP selected from amongst an all-black shortlist, was Paul Boateng in 1986.

Now is the time for Tony Blair to take a long hard look at the party he leads. There can be no hiding place for racist attitudes.

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