News / Europe

Ethnic Minorities Make Inroads in British Politics

Multimedia

Audio

For the first time in Britain's history, a black woman has joined the race to become leadr of the Labor Party, one of the country's largest political factions.  A record number of ethnic minorities won seats in the British parliament last month.  

Diane Abbott launched her bid for the Labor Party leadership at a school in North London.  More than 20 years ago, she became Britain's first black female member of parliament.

She says she is ready to break new boundaries with her bid to become Labor's leader.  

"I think it is important in modern Britain, which has so changed and is so diverse, that they see diversity in the top of politics," Abbott said.

The Labor Party ruled Britain for the past 13 years, first under Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown.  In the May 6 election, Labor lost power and Mr. Brown stepped down as party leader.  

Abbott is one of 27 people of African, Asian, or Caribbean descent who were voted into parliament on May 6, almost double the previous number.

Ashok Viswanathan, from the campaign group Operation Black Vote, credits the increase, in part, to a record number of ethnic minorities who voted.  

"Turnout went from 61 percent to 65 percent overall, and within the black minority ethnic communities it went from around 45 percent to around 55 percent," Viswanathan said. "So a greater increase in turn out amongst black minority ethnic communities than the increase by the wider electorate."

In January, a survey found that almost half of the young black people in Britain were unemployed, compared to 20 percent of white people of the same age.

Ethnic minorities voted this year to change inequalities like these, says Viswanathan.

"It was clear in black minority ethnic communities that there were many issues at stake in their lives that would be decided by whoever won the election in 2010," Viswanathan said.

Anthony Kalu is a 20-year-old student who, this year, voted for the first time in a national election.  He says it is important for young ethnic minorities to see people from their own ethnic group in politics.

"It is all about who is most like you," Kalu said. "If you are not interested in politics, you want to see someone who you believe is closer to you.  Whether that be through color or be through class or be through gender."

He says ethnic minority parliament members serve as role models for black and Asian young people.  

Back at the North London school where Abbott launched her campaign, she told VOA even if her leadership bid is not a success, she hopes it may inspire young ethnic minorities to join the political arena.

For one student called Sade, Abbott's plan seemed to be working.

"I will be prime minister one day hopefully," Sade said. "I think if you put your mind to it and you really want to do it, you can actually get somewhere."

Women hold about 20 percent of Britain's 650 parliament seats, and 27 seats are held by members of ethnic minorities.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid