Victories for Sadiq Khan and Marvin Rees show positive signs for diversity in politics

Following a flurry of elections on what was dubbed “Super Thursday” the British political landscape has plenty of new faces in it. Two of the newly elected mayors are from BME backgrounds, and this is a great sign for everyone who is fighting for more diversity in politics.

The first, London’s Sadiq Kahn, has received a huge amount of coverage in the national press. In a time when Islamophobia is such a problem in Europe, it sends a great message to young Muslims across the continent to see the first Muslim Mayor of a western capital elected in London. The fact that Kahn is not radical and describes himself as a feminist, sends a positive message as well: that those who characterize Muslims as anti-Western and extremist are incorrect.

“I am a Londoner, I am European, I am British, I am English, I am of Islamic faith, of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage, a dad, a husband,” said Khan during the campaign – addressing his complex identity.

Marvin Rees’ landslide victory in Bristol received less press coverage than Khan’s, but it was another step forward for diversity in politics. Rees is mixed race and described himself as a rare “brown” face on a Bristol housing estate growing up. Voice4Change have been taking an interest in race relations in Bristol recently. Our director, Kunle Olulode, spoke on a panel in Bristol last month about racism in the city: which was ranked the 7th worst district out of 348 to be a BAME person in a study by the Runnymede Trust. The election of a mixed-race Mayor is a positive sign for race relations in Bristol going forward.

Rees and Khan will both be role models for young people around the country who are from minority backgrounds – and their victories show that progress is being made with BAME representation in politics.