Do you know who’s coming to the party?
Political parties and ethnicity monitoring
Rebecca Marek - December 2015
Recently, the Scottish Government held a roundtable discussion to address the lack of diversity and representation in public life and to consider ways to increase the participation of under-represented groups in elected office. As far as we understand, no representatives of political parties were invited, which is unfortunate, given that responsibility for ensuring equal participation of BME communities within party politics lies largely with parties themselves.
Equal representation is essential to racial equality, but before there can be equal representation, there must be active participation in politics, and therefore, active members in political parties.
As part of ongoing research to inform the Scottish Government's Race Equality Framework, CRER contacted the party offices of the Scottish National Party, the Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Conservatives and Unionists, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish Green Party to enquire about ethnic demographics of their membership.
Four of the parties do not keep data on the ethnicity of their membership, with one party stating that the information was deemed “not important to collect.” One party had recently begun monitoring the diversity of its membership at a UK-wide level, but did not yet have data available.