THE Labour party has promised to tackle the inequalities that exist for Asian and black communities in securing top jobs in its new BAME manifesto.
During the announcement, Ed Miliband pledged to place equality at “the heart of the next Labour government” if he was elected prime minister on May 7 in a bid to attract black and minority ethnic (BAME) voters.
The 19-page manifesto, which includes a commitment to a cross-government race equality strategy, specifically addresses discrimination and obstacles facing Asian and black communities in the UK.
Dropping into Leicester on Tuesday (14) during his whistle-stop tour to launch the manifesto, the Labour leader told a room full of supporters and prominent MPs he would work to break down barriers.
“We are a long way from the equality we need in the country and that work I pledge to you will be at the heart of the next Labour government,” he said.
“There are so many things where we need to make a difference because we live in a country where people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are likely to find life tough. Too many people from ethnic minority backgrounds are being held back by discrimination and disadvantage.
“[They are] more likely to be unemployed and more likely to be in insecure work; and that is what our plan addresses in turning that round.” Miliband added: “We are going to break down the barriers to good quality work. We are going to break down the barriers that exist for our young people who don’t get the start they need in life.
“Every area of government we will go through to find what is the answer to build a truly equal society that we all believe in; that is what the next Labour government will do.”
Among its key pledges, Labour has said it would ensure better and more inclusive public services by making parliament, police and the judicairy more representative of the communities they served.
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan, who attended the launch, told Eastern Eye the race equality strategy would work across all departments to tackle race and discrimination.
“It’s the biggest step forward in the fight for equality in a generation,” he said.
Hate crimes – including Islamaphobia – would be clearly marked on criminal records, and new guidance from the Sentencing Council would be introduced for aggravated hate crimes, particularly for repeat offenders, Khan added.
Another initiative includes a promise to challenge social media companies to take more responsibility in preventing harassment and hate crimes through their sites.
Khan, a former lawyer, told EE: “A Labour government will make diversity central to our plans to deliver an effective, modern criminal justice system.
“We will work with the police to improve ethnic minority recruitment so that the police better reflect the communities they serve, including legislating to ensure increased diversity. And we will work with the judiciary to ensure the next generation of judges and magistrates better reflect the communities they serve.”
The shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna explained to EE that he wanted to see greater diversity within civil service appointments to ensure boardrooms were more reflective of the population. However he refused to rule out the implementation of quotas.
“I’d rather business got its own house in order first without the need to introduce more prescriptive orders. But I’m not going to take prescriptive measures off the table in respect of the future until we see requisite progress,” he said.
In a more relaxed tone, Miliband urged supporters in Leicester to put off attending family weddings and birthday parties until May 8 so they could knock on doors and drum up support for Labour.
“It’s going to be a very close campaign, it’s going to be an election that comes down to the wire,” he said.