The UK’s sole Turkish origin representative in Parliament has been named as one of the principal spokespeople for the Liberal Democrats. Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece features in party leader Vince Cable’s new team, announced last week, with specific responsibility for Equalities, a role she also held in 2015.
She is one of seventeen women in the 31-strong Lib Dems Shadow Cabinet, others including former East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson (Lib Dems Deputy Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), former Solihull MP Lorely Burt (Small Business), and Baroness Jenny Randerson (Transport).
There are also roles for former party leaders Tim Farron (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs & North of England) and Menzies Campbell (Defence).
Commenting on his first reshuffle since becoming leader this summer, Vince Cable said: “I am fortunate to lead such a great, gender-balanced team, which is comprised of the most talented and promising politicians in the House of Commons and battle-hardened, experienced campaigners.”
Baroness Ece told T-VINE: “I was very pleased to be asked by Vince Cable to be the party’s Principle Spokesperson on Equalities, with a particular focus on racial equality.”
When asked about her priorities, the Lib Dem peer said: “The recent publication by the Government of the Race Audit in the UK, demonstrates that black & minority ethnic communities still suffer discrimination in education, employment, mental health services, & the criminal justice service. Hate crimes have increased since the Brexit referendum. It’s time for action to promote a more equal society where everyone has the same equal life chances irrespective of their race, gender, religion, sexuality or disability.”
About Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece OBE
Meral Hussein Ece was born in London to Turkish Cypriot migrant parents. She attended various state schools – DeBeauvoir Primary School, and Edith Cavell Secondary Modern School in Hackney – before going on to study at Art school.
She changed direction from her first passion for art, and had a long career in local government, the voluntary sector, and the NHS, initially working as a librarian. She went on to work as a community development worker (1986-93), supporting women fleeing domestic violence, and forced marriages. She established the first domestic violence project for Turkish and Kurdish women, and is still very active in promoting ethnic minority women’s rights.
Baroness Ece went on to work in the NHS, while studying for a degree in Health Care Management. She served as Chief Officer of Haringey Community Health Council between 1996 and 2003.
She was awarded the OBE in the Queens New Year Honours List of 2009 for services to local government, and entered the House of Lords on 29 June 2010, taking the title of Baroness Hussein-Ece of Highbury in the London Borough of Islington.