OBV, Oxford University seeking next generation of BME MPs for new 5-day leadership course

Operation Black Vote (OBV) has been pivotal in championing black and minority ethnic (BME) representation at the highest levels of British civic and political life. Over the past twenty years, the London-based organisation’s work has led to an ever-increasing number of BME politicians and officials in public life.

Part of its remit is to nurture the country’s future BME leaders OBV. To achieve that, last month OBV announced its partnership with the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government and Magdalen College, the House of Commons and Lloyds Bank to launch a new course:  Pathway to Success, a 5-day residential Leadership Programme.

This September, thirty participants from BME communities will engage with some of the greatest minds and expertise in political and civic governance in the UK.

They will come together with outstanding academics, top thinkers and experienced practitioners who have been at the top of the political game, including amongst others political philosopher Professor Jonathan Wolff, negotiations expert Associate Professor Emily Jones, former special advisor to the UK Prime Minister Nick Timothy, US presidential campaign strategist Parag Mehta and top sports and leadership psychologist Steven Sylvester.

Who is eligible?

OBV is looking for 30 dynamic BME individuals with a keen interest in making a real and positive difference to society. You should have a minimum of 5 years’ work or voluntary experience and an ambition to enter Parliament or other UK institutions within 12 months.

The selected candidates will also have an understanding of the main social and political issues facing

BME communities, and demonstrate a commitment and ability to inform and inspire BAME communities.

What does the programme comprise?

The programme will be a five-day residential course running from the evening of Sunday 8th September to Friday 13th September at the University of Oxford, Magdalen College. Alongside keynote speakers, including international guests, there will be visits to Westminster, London and Oxford City.

Participants will have the chance to explore how local and national government works and understand the work of political parties and leaders, and how campaigns are built and organised.

At the end of the course, participants will gain the following skills:

  • Political, civil and business knowledge
  • Confidence building
  • Community activism – participation, negotiating, and leadership
  • Communication – writing, presentation skills, and public speaking.


There is no fee for the course, which is being subsidised by OBV and its partners. Accommodation and all food will be covered for the duration of the residential.

Only transport to and from the residential venue in Oxford will need to be covered by each participant.  OBV will consider any exceptional circumstances if any requests are made for travel costs. This will be at the discretion of Residential partners on a case-by-case basis.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be part of this high end political and civic leadership residential apply online here. Deadline is Sunday 7 July 2019.

About Operation Black Vote, www.obv.org.uk

Sir Simon Woolley on Sky News, 12 June 2019


Operation Black Vote exists to ensure we have greater racial justice and equality throughout the UK. The organisation was initiated in July 1996 at the House of Commons, as a collaboration between two organisations: Charter88 which campaigns for democratic reform; and the 1990 Trust a national generic policy research and networking organisation.

For two decades, OBV has been at the forefront of inspiring BME communities to engage with our public institutions in order to address the persistent race inequalities that they face in areas such as: education, health and employment.

Their work spans a number of areas including voter registration, lobbying politicians, mentoring schemes and political leadership programmes.

Last month, its founder and director Simon Woolley was recognised in Her Majesty the Queen Birthday Honours list for his outstanding work in race equality. He is to be knighted for helping to transform the ethnic and racial makeup of parliament, local authorities, the magistracy and public bodies.

In recent years, Sir Simon worked with Prime Minister Theresa May to launch the Race Disparity Unit to highlight and overturn race inequalities in government, and public and private bodies.


Main photo, top: official portraits of (L-R) Clive Lewis MP, Baroness Warsi, and Tanmanjeet Singh Desi by Chris McAndrew, © CC by 3.0