During the 2015 Lib Dem leadership contest, both Tim Farron and Norman Lamb backed the idea of a ‘Morrissey 2’ report, a follow up to Helena Morrissey’s report into Liberal Democrat culture and processes which would focus on race and ethnicity in the party. (The original Morrissey report, triggered as it was by allegations that the Liberal Democrats had failed to handle properly complaints of sexual harassment properly, had focused on other aspects of the party’s processes.)
Speaking last night, Tim Farron confirmed plans for this now to go ahead, with Lord John Alderdice chairing it. This is its remit:
The Liberal Democrats are committed to better representing the communities it seeks to serve and have voted through a raft of measures, including the Diversity Quotas and Electing Diverse MPs motions passed by members at Federal Conference in York and Brighton this year.
As part of the party’s ongoing commitment to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, an independent review which focuses on the issues and/or barriers faced by BAME members and supporters has been commissioned by the Federal Executive. This review should help the party determine what and where the issues are and how we take action in this specific area.
The Federal Executive agreed that the following questions should be addressed as part of the review process (these have been left deliberately broad so that the chair of the review is able to fix or formulate the review in the manner they see fit).
- Are there barriers to participation for BAME members? If so, what and where are they?
- Do barriers differ in different parts of the party?
- How effective are existing mechanisms/procedures in addressing the issue?
- Does the party do enough to engage with BAME voters and ensure accessibility for potential BAME members?
- What further steps should, or could, be taken by the Party to address the issues identified in this review?
Lord John Alderdice
Best know as leader of the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland (1987-1998), Lord John Alderdice played a significant role in the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. He was the first Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-2004) and has continued to play a major role in commissions tasked with investigating sensitive issues. These include serving on the Independent Monitoring Commission, charged with closing down terrorist operations in Northern Ireland, and in Canada undertaking a review on relationships between the Canadian and regional governments and their BAME and indigenous communities in the Yukon.
He is a member of the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords. For four years he was Convenor (Chair) of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party there and is currently the party’s Business Spokesperson in the Upper House.