Steps towards a political landscape which isn't dominated by the white, middle-class male

PA

Last night saw the launch of a partnership between Christians on the Left and Black, Minority and Ethnic (BME) churches in the UK.

Sadiq Khan MP, David Lammy MP, Celia Collins, Claudine Reid MBE and Pastor Jonathan Oloyede each took the floor before a sold-out crowd who met in the Attlee Suite of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. The hope was to challenge leaders from BME churches across the UK to "release their people into political engagement".

"Wonderful things are being done in individual communities, but could this life also be serving the nation at large?" said a statement from Christians on the Left.

Its director, Andy Flannagan, said: "Politics is largely dominated by the white, middle or upper class male (said the white middle class male). This needs to change."

"We already train and mentor many folks from BME churches and they make a huge impact, but we know there could be many more involved," he added. "This event will help to open the floodgates to all that passion and expertise."

Christians on the Left, formerly the Christian Socialist Movement, counts 40 MPs among its members and wants to "harness" the energy and entrepreneurship of BME churches, encouraging members to enter into "influential positions within the party".

Support groups, resources and a mentoring problem are all available, which Flannagan hopes will pave the way for transformation in terms of political engagement. With the results of the annual British Social Attitudes Survey published last week revealing that levels of racial prejudice across the UK are "on the rise", it's a welcome and timely move.

"I believe the Labour party and politics in general will look very different in 15 years' time because of these relationships being forged," Flannagan says.

Last year, Labour leader Ed Miliband Miliband released a video in which he said he is "very proud" of the work undertaken by Christians on the Left, and called on believers to "get involved with them as part of that fight for social justice".

"Thank you for the work you do, and please help us to change our country," he urged.

More on Christians on the Left here.

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