Black History Month once again raises a challenge for our Labour and Co-operative party – how do we promote black and minority ethnic (BAME) representation within our movement?

Last year it came to light that thousands of people have been denied their rights as British citizens by our own Government. The fact that it took so many years for the outrages of the Windrush scandal to hit the press reflects the fact that there are just too few people from BAME backgrounds in positions of influence. We must also acknowledge that this includes a race disparity in our Parliamentary party, in our trade unions and in our socialist societies.

With a general election seemingly not too far away, our movement has an enormous opportunity to mobilise every part of the community, to foster a shared sense of belonging and to secure a historic win together. But if we are to achieve this then we must do three things.

First, we must produce a manifesto which seeks to unite communities across the country. The Co-op Party has always been a source of radical, original policies. Our manifesto should build on the work being done by some fantastic Labour local authorities to promote interactions between different cultures and communities and to foster a shared sense of belonging across the UK.

Secondly, we must challenge all parts of our movement to understand and address the barriers to entry into and progression within their organisations for BAME people. With so much outstanding work being delivered within building societies, credit unions and other mutuals, the Co-op movement is uniquely well placed to share insight on how to address cultural and structural barriers to recruitment and progression.

Lastly, we must select credible BAME parliamentary candidates. A key plank of the Labour and Co-operative Party’s 2017 Race and Faith Manifesto was the introduction of the Bernie Grant leadership course. With 50 new graduates from this programme, the Co-operative Party has a unique opportunity to draw upon this talent pool for its candidate list.

Hugh Goulbourne is a Labour Party, Co-operative Party and Unison activist and founder of the Huddersfield Diversity & Innovation Network