Labour urged to help ethnic minority candidates

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Indy Politics

Labour should consider changing its candidate selection procedures to make it easier for would-be MPs from the ethnic minorities to be chosen for Westminster seats, a senior Cabinet minister said today.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said that rules should be changed so that the shortlists for candidates in winnable seats reflect the ethnic make-up of the constituency.

His comments follow a claim yesterday from the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Trevor Phillips that Labour "institutional racism" would prevent a British Barack Obama from ever reaching the upper reaches of politics.

Mr Johnson told BBC1's The Politics Show: "I don't agree with Trevor Phillips, but I do think we need to look at our structures.

"We've got some people that have come through the system - Dawn Butler, David Lammy, Shahid Malik, Sadiq Khan - from the black and minority ethnic population, but I was hearing things when I was running for deputy leader about (how) sometimes the procedures to get through to be selected as a candidate are quite difficult for people from that kind of background.

"I think personally, that the shortlist for a vacant position, that people on the shortlist ought to reflect the community and the percentage of the community should be reflected on the shortlist. So I think we ought to look at that."