Boris Johnson’s former race adviser says Truss wouldn’t be prime minister without a diversity program | Conservatives

A former race adviser to Boris Johnson, a Conservative candidate for mayor of London, has defended the role of diversity schemes, saying Liz Truss would not be Prime Minister without such a scheme.

Samuel Kasumu said the Conservative Party’s “A list” of priority candidates, championed by then-leader David Cameron, helped propel Truss to No 10.

In 2006, Cameron promised to transform the Tories with an “A list” of priority candidates, in an attempt to modernize the party by pushing for women and ethnic minority candidates. The list included Liz Truss and former Home Secretary Priti Patel.

“Not everyone liked David Cameron’s A-list,” Kasumu said of the project, which was scrapped a year later in favor of a general roster. “But if it hadn’t been for the ‘A-list’, Liz Truss and a number of others wouldn’t have been elected in 2010.”

Kasumu, 35, left Downing Street more than a year ago, after resigning as Johnson’s special adviser for civil society and communities, in response to furor over the government’s controversial report on racial disparities, which rejected institutional racism.

After resurfacing after a year-long sabbatical writing a book about his move to No 10, Kasumu last week announced his candidacy to run as the Conservative candidate for mayor of London. On issues of climate change, the need for more housing and violent crime, Kasumu said he would be “unapologetic” in his approach.

As Johnson’s only senior black adviser before his resignation last April, Kasumu’s loyalty to the party has not been shaken.

He acknowledged that “bridges need to be built” with the black community, after tPatel described the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that swept across the UK last year as “appalling”.

Instead of quitting the party, Kasumu decided to try to bring about change from within. In August, he co-founded Groupe 2022, a organization aiming to improve the Conservatives’ “toxic” brand and its relationship with Afro-Caribbean communities in the UK.

“I am optimistic that the 2022 Group will help inspire a new generation of people in public life, and we will demonstrate that the Conservative Party is a broad church in every way,” he said.

With a new Prime Minister and Conservative leader, Kwasi Kwarteng as the first black Chancellor of any government, Suella Braverman as the second Anglo-Indian Home Secretary, and James Cleverly as Foreign Secretary, Truss’s new cabinet has been touted as Britain’s most diverse cabinet. the story.

Of the three female prime ministers to hold the post, Truss, 47, is the youngest.

“A lot of the progress we’re making across all sectors, you’ll find there’s a clear link between age and increased representation,” Kasumu says, referring to Truss’ youth and the diversity of his background. firm.

In her leadership bid against Rishi Sunak, Truss vowed to cut the cost of public service by cutting diversity and inclusion jobs which she says ‘leads the delivery of the priorities of the British people’.

While conservatives have generally eschewed women’s shortlists and ethnic minority quotas in favor of meritocracy, Kasumu said diversity programs were necessary for the upward mobility of underrepresented groups, although he conceded that “how they are designed matters”.

“The civil service fast track probably has the most impressive diversity program,” he said, referring to its targeting of undergraduates with disabilities and those from ethnic minorities and socio-economic backgrounds. disadvantaged.

The most diverse cabinet in history under a Conservative government has demanded a new approach to inclusivity, Kasumu said, engaging with people from different ethnic minorities and different classes, and bringing expertise to the table that accompanies hiring people with lived experience.

“I would suspect, now that the [leadership] competition is over, people will become more and more aware of the need to keep investing and trying to find ways for us to live side by side as one nation, a nation of many people who for many reasons , see themselves as outsiders,” he says.


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Edward L. Robinett