University of Leicester researcher joins nationwide initiative to increase BAME representation in Parliament

A University of Leicester researcher will be taking part in the Operation Black Vote’ MP shadowing scheme, a national initiative designed to increase the number of minority ethnic MPs in Parliament.  

Research Associate Yewande Okuleye, of the University of Leicester’s School of History, Politics and International Relations, is to shadow Liberal Democrat Tom Brake MP .   The scheme pairs participants – called parliamentary shadows – with members of the House of Commons and Lords.  

Tom Brake MP is the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Exiting the European Union and International Trade. During her placement, Yewande will be assisting in Westminster and Mr Brake’s constituency of Carshalton and Wallington.  

Yewande is a historian and activist with a public history practice, which uses exhibitions and events as a space to generate dialogue about the relationship between history and contemporary issues.   

In 2017, Yewande curated ‘Back from the Western Front: African Soldiers of the Great War in Britain’, a Heritage Lottery funded exhibition and project uncovering stories and individual contributions of African soldiers.  

Yewande said: “The Operation Black Vote MP Shadowing scheme provides a ‘front row seat’ and a great opportunity to learn about the workings of Westminster and how politics is localised. I hope to use this experience to formulate ideas which enhance communications between politicians and the communities they serve.”

The Rt Hon Tom Brake MP added: “I am very pleased to once again be participating in OBV. It is essential that more people from ethnic minorities are involved in politics at all levels, including Westminster, and OBV is effective at making this happen.”

Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow, will be hosting the reception for the shadowing scheme launch on Thursday 18 January.  

Mr Bercow visited the University of Leicester in October 2017 to discuss his experience working in Parliament and highlight the collaborative ‘Parliamentary Studies’ module, which is offered at the University of Leicester and only 19 other institutions in the United Kingdom, granting students the unique opportunity to learn how Parliament works in both theory and practice. 

More information about the Parliamentary Studies module available at the University of Leicester here.

Peter Thorley

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