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Shelly Darwin celebrates Bernie Grant Leadership Programme success

Ipswich Labour Councillor, Shelly Darwin is one of the first graduates of the Bernie Grant Leadership Programme.

The programme was launched by Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central in March 2019.  Bernie Grant, after whom the programme is named, was a trail-blazing Black MP, elected alongside Labour colleagues Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng in 1987, as the first black Members of Parliament.

On completing the programme Shelly said:

"The Bernie Grant Programme has been a fantastic experience. It was so exciting to be amongst such shining examples of positive leadership in our Party. The programme was a rare space where BAME people were over rather than underestimated and I have grasped the resilience that environment delivered. I have built up my network of politically capable, confident BAME members from across the country; People who are committed to boosting each other and working collectively to give support, resources and advice. I am so thankful to those who supported my application and to the Party staff and Dawn Butler MP for organising.

I hope my experience can inspire and empower more BAME people and especially BAME Women to get involved in politics. We need, not just more diversity in politics, but more politics in the interest of diversity.

Having the assurance to use your voice is hard. Breaking the mould and changing the establishment default requires the strength and tools that a programme such as this delivers. I would highly recommend any of our members from BAME backgrounds to apply next year."

When launching the programme, Dawn Butler MP said:

"The Labour Party also has more MPs from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds than all other political parties combined, but we are committed to building on this success and improving diverse representation at all levels of the party.

I am pleased that so many people of colour will be listed in the history books. Mohammed Sarwar as the first Muslim MP, Rushanara Ali as the first MP of Bangladeshi origin, and many more firsts. As the first elected Black woman to serve as a government minister, I know and appreciate just how important it is to lay the foundations for those following in our footsteps and to celebrate each other’s achievements.

The Labour Party has still to elect an MP of Chinese origin and we are falling behind in representation of African Caribbean men in parliament. People may ask why is it important: it is important to have diversity of thought and diversity of lived experience if we are truly to represent the country that we serve.

We know the task of addressing the current imbalance of both MPs and local councillors is a challenging one, but we hope the Bernie Grant Leadership Programme will go some way towards this vital aim."

Labour in Ipswich is proud of the diversity of it's councillors, but recognises that there is still a long way to go before our politicians reflect the diversity of our town.

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