This report argues that ethnic minority political hopefuls are losing out and shows how ethnic representation in politics has to be at the heart of the debate about civic renewal and public engagement in politics.

The major political parties have expressed concern about the poor levels of ethnic representation in front-line politics. The problem was brought into sharp focus in the last general election when, despite increasing numbers of high calibre candidates coming forward, constituency parties were failing to select them for 'winnable' seats.

The report argues that in the light of the action that the Government has taken to address women's representation in politics, there is a growing frustration among minority groups at the failure to address ethnic under-representation.

While positive discrimination measures such as all-minority short-lists can be problematic, parties could implement varied forms of affirmative action to tackle discrimination: proactive leadership, political education programmes to change attitudes among party members, special units to promote ethnic minority candidates, and other strong measures both from the top down and at local level are necessary.

The report also calls for the establishment of a government funded cross-party future leaders' programme to groom, mentor and support tomorrow's leaders.