New Commissioner calls on political leaders to elect for equality

26/01/10

The new Equality and Human Rights Commissioner for Wales Ann Beynon has written to all party leaders in Wales reminding them of their responsibility to put fairness and fair play before short-term political gain.

The letter emphasises that election pressures should not mean efforts towards creating a fairer Wales are put on the backburner.  The letter highlights two key areas where the Commissioner wants to see action being taken:

  • Political parties ensuring their election candidates are representative of the diversity of Wales
  • Party candidates and campaigners promoting equality during the election, rather than taking actions likely to generate prejudice

Reports suggest that the number of female MPs and AMs may go down at the 2010 General and 2011 Assembly elections. The Commission is calling on parties to do all they can to ensure that more women and people from other under-represented groups are elected. This would include any last-minute opportunities that arise from candidates standing down ahead of the general election.

The letter also calls on party leaders to promote equality and fairness during the general election campaign. In 2008, all four party leaders in Wales committed to making sure that campaigners did not take actions likely to generate prejudice or hostility between different groups. The Commission hopes that political parties will adhere to these principles in this year’s election campaign.

Equality and Human Rights Commissioner for Wales Ann Beynon said:

“Politicians have a duty towards fairness and fair play. And they have to back up their words with action. We know good intentions are not enough.

“Political parties need to make sure they are representative of society. It is deeply concerning that the progress towards fairer representation may be reversed in the coming elections.

“We call on political parties to take every opportunity they get to increase the number of women, and people from other under-represented groups, in our political institutions. This would include any last-minute opportunities that arise from candidates standing down ahead of the general election.

“A great responsibility lies on politicians to promote equality and not stir up fear or prejudice for their own short-term ambitions. We have seen this in the past, with election material pitching groups against one another. We want to see party leaders working towards a Wales that values all its people, celebrates its diversity and provides equality of opportunity for all.

“I am delighted to be the Equality and Human Rights Commissioner for Wales. And I look forward to working with people from all sections of society as we make Wales a fairer place.”

Last Updated: 26 Jan 2010