On Thursday 18 January, Operation Black Vote launched its Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme in the House of Commons at an event hosted by the Speaker of the House, the Rt. Hon. John Bercow.
The scheme is generously supported by the Aziz Foundation and is part of the Foundation’s commitment to improving the representation of disadvantaged communities in politics and public life.
The Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme is a three year programme offering talented individuals from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds the opportunity to gain valuable experience in policy and media, and key skills in governance and community empowerment, by shadowing a Member of Parliament or an active Peer. The scheme also caters for the shadowing of business leaders in recognition of the poor visibility of people from BME backgrounds on company boards in the UK.
Asif Aziz, Chair of the Aziz Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Operation Black Vote’s Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme with a grant. We are committed to helping individuals from disadvantaged communities gain experience and insight into the worlds of politics and business with the anticipation of seeing many of these accomplished young people become leaders in their communities and in society at large.
He said: “People from BME backgrounds are vastly under-represented in British public life and we hope through this scheme, and the other project investments we are making as a Foundation, that we see their representation steadily grow in years to come for the benefit and enrichment of all.”
The Aziz Foundation is an independent grant-making body dedicated to supporting the most disadvantaged communities in Britain. Established in 2015, the Foundation has, to date, supported over 150 projects in the areas of community empowerment, leadership development, public engagement and, more recently, arts and culture.
It is eight years since the Speaker’s Report on Parliamentary Representation, examining the disparity in representation of women, minorities and people with disabilities in parliament, was published in 2010. Though the 2017 parliament is the most diverse to be elected in recent years, only 8% of current MPs come from ethnic minority backgrounds. With the size of the BME population in the UK at 14% and growing, the House of Commons still lags behind on diverse representation.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, 1918, which granted the franchise to all men and women over the age of 30 for the first time. One hundred years on from the Representation of the People Act, we still have some way to go to making our politics truly representative of the people of Britain.
The Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme is one way in which low diversity in public life is being addressed in a practical way.
OBV are looking for individuals aged 17 years upwards with a keen interest in making a real and positive difference to society.
Applications for the scheme reopen in May 2018.
Tel: 0208 983 5430