Why are all the West Midlands Mayoral candidates white?
The West Midlands is quite arguably one of the most diverse, multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-racial regions in the country.
At its heart is Birmingham, a city with a population of over one million inhabitants. Around 35% of whom are non-white, nearly 22% Muslim and 45.7% under 30, making it one of the youngest cities in Europe.
Yet, of the six candidates standing in the West Midlands Combined Authority Mayoral Election, not one is a person of colour, only one is under 40 and only one is a woman. Diversity much?
Who are the candidates?
James Burn | Green Party
Pete Durnell | UK Independence Party (UKIP)
Beverley Anne Nielsen | Liberal Democrats
Siôn Llewelyn Simon | Labour and Co-operative Party
Graham John Stevenson | Communist
Andy Street | The Conservative Party Candidate
So, is this a problem? Is this straight up institutional racism and white privilege, or is it the combined factors of race and class, where most ethnic minority communities also happen to be living in deprived neighbourhoods with a lack of access to public services and opportunities?
Why aren’t they coming forward, you might ask? Well, interestingly, during the nomination process, Milkinder Jaspal, a cabinet member on Wolverhampton City Council; and Najma Hafeez, a former Birmingham city councillor, did indeed put their names forward to the Labour Party’s national executive committee but, alas, were not selected.
As such, does local politics need more involvement from people of working class backgrounds? And why are there not more younger candidates in the current line-up, which consists of only one 35-year-old, while his counterparts are circling near or well over the age of 50?
Then there’s female representation, and what about the inclusion other minority groups?
We asked the six West Midlands Metro Mayor candidates to share their thoughts:
Polls open for voters in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell. Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 4th May.
For more details about the election and to register to vote go to www.wmcaelects.co.uk