Could Britain ever have its own black leader?

No, says Trevor Phillips, because institutional racism would prevent one emerging. But what do others think?
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Simon Woolley Director of Operation Black Vote

"There are structural obstacles that persist in political parties, and I'd have hoped the Government would have bitten the black shortlist bullet to address that. To shackle people's aspirations before they start isn't helpful. For too long we've been conditioned to accept second best, but Obama has swept that away."

Sadiq Khan Communities and Local Government minister

"I work with very able black politicians and I know that our constituents are very sophisticated and we judge our politicians by their policies, not by the colour of their skin. There will be a black or Asian prime minister in my lifetime, and it will be a Labour prime minister. I see no reason why that can't happen."

Sunder Katwala General secretary of the Fabian Society

"There is every chance we will have a Barack Obama in British politics. [Phillips] is wrong and he is out of date. There is a barrier in British politics: it is called Parliament. Let's be positive. This is the politics of no we can't, and we need the politics of yes we can. The Labour Party has made the most progress in British politics."

Shailesh Vara Conservative MP and shadow deputy leader of the House of Commons

"Mr Phillips is presupposing that racism is over in America. I believe that there is less racism in the UK than in the USA and that it is still possible for a non-white person to become prime minister. He should also remember that the Conservatives have had two Jewish leaders of their party."

Chuka Umunna Labour's parliamentary candidate for Streatham

"I am against people taking aim at the Labour Party. I am testament to the fact that progress is being made. I don't agree that Labour is institutionally racist and I don't agree that it hasn't made progress on these issues. I have had constituency party members telling me that it was time we had an ethnic candidate."

Adam Afriyie Tory MP for Windsor

"I do not believe we will see a black prime minister in my lifetime. In the US a fresh face like Obama can make it in one electoral cycle.

In Britain, it's a gradual process of service and promotion over many years, and often decades, before leading a political party."

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