What are the main political parties promising?


The Conservatives, who have been in government since 2010, have now released their manifesto for the general election. Forefront to their election pledge is exiting the European Union. There are a few promises with particular focus on promoting physical activity and education. Emphasis is largely on encouraging cycling, and increasing funding for the NHS. However, racial equality and diversity feature less so.

Sport and physical activity - what are the Conservatives promising?

  • If elected for their fourth term, the Conservatives have promised to invest in primary school PE teaching to ensure children are getting an active start to life. They will also make sure that it is being properly delivered.
  • Focussing on education, they have also promised to do more to help schools make good use of their sports facilities and to promote physical literacy and competitive sport.
  • They want to build on their "fantastic track record" of delivering major international sporting events - including supporting the upcoming Commonwealth Games, UEFA European Women's Championships and Rugby League World Cup - and they would back a potential UK and Ireland bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
  • The Conservatives will establish a £150 million Community Ownership Fund to encourage local takeovers of civic organisations or community assets what are under threat, such as local football clubs.
  • They will set up a fan-led review of football governance, which will include consideration of the Owners and Directors Test, and will work with fans and clubs towards introducing safe standing.
  • They will help communities that want to create 'pocket parks' and regenerate derelict areas.
  • They will extend Bikeability - cycling proficiency training - to every child. They will also work with the NHS to promote cycling for healthier living.
  • The Conservatives will support commuter cycling routes so that more people can cycle safely to work and more families can go out together.
  • They will create a new £350 million Cycling Infrastructure Fund with mandatory design standards for new routes.

What are their plans for health?

  • They will extend social prescribing and expand the new National Academy of Social Prescribing.

How about racial equality and diversity?

  • They will expand start-up loans which have a particularly high take-up from BAME entrepreneurs.
  • If elected, the Conservatives will tackle prejudice, racism and discrimination and address the complex reasons why some groups do less well at school, earn less at work, or are more likely to be victims of crime.

You can read the manifesto in full here.


Having been the Official Opposition party for the past nine years, Labour has launched an extensive manifesto which they allege is the most “radical, hopeful, people-focused, fully-costed plan in modern times”.

Given that the manifesto is over 100 pages long, sport and physical activity do feature somewhat, with focus on the NHS playing a big part for health and other policies set to encourage and grow equality and diversity throughout the UK.

Sport and physical activity – what is Labour saying?

  • If elected, Labour will increase the funding available for cycling and walking and will bring together transport and land-use planning to create towns and cities in which walking and cycling are the best choices: safe, accessible, healthy, efficient, economical and pollution free.
  • They will help children's health and well-being by ensuring street designs provide freedom for physically active outdoor play.
  • They will make the distribution of National Lottery funding more transparent to help communities get their fair share of project funding.
  • A Labour government will examine the state of football, its governance and regulation, its ownership rules and the support and funding of the clubs that are vital to local communities. We will review the 'fit and proper person test' for club owners and directors and ensure that supporters' trusts have a proper role so that the professional game is properly run for all its fans and all its clubs.
  • A Labour government will legislate for accredited football supporters' trusts to be able to appoint and remove at least two club directors and purchase shares when clubs change hands.
  • They will regulate safe standing in stadiums and ensure that a proportion of the Premier League's television rights income is spent on grassroots football facilities.
  • They will add the ICC Cricket World Cup to the list of crown jewel sporting events that are broadcast free-to-air.
  • Labour has said they will commission an independent review into discrimination in sport.

What about health? -

  • Amongst substantial health commitments, a Labour government will target a reduction in health inequalities with a comprehensive children's health strategy. They will introduce a Future Generations Well-being Act, enshrining health aims in all policies and a new duty for NHS agencies to collaborate with directors of public health.

And equality and diversity? -

  • Labour will create a new Department for Women and Equalities, with a full-time Secretary of State, responsible for ensuring all policies and laws are equality-impact assessed in order to deliver a fairer society for women and all under-represented groups.
  • They will seek to end the politics of hate and commission an independent review into the threat of far-right extremism and how to tackle it.
  • They intend to put wealth and power in the hands of the many, extend pay-gap reporting to BAME groups and tackle pay discrimination on the basis of race.
  • A Labour government would commit our National Investment Bank to address discrimination in access to finance, which many BAME business owners face; and take action to ensure that BAME and women business owners have access to government contracts and spending.
  • They will create an Emancipation Educational Trust to educate around migration and colonialism and to address the legacy of slavery and teach how it interrupted a rich and powerful black history which is also British history.
  • They will review current levels of funding for and access to the Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme, maintain funding in real terms for the Community Security Trust, and consult on giving it statutory protection to ensure that religious communities have the support they need.
  • A Labour government would require employers to devise and implement plans to eradicate the gender pay gap – and pay inequalities underpinned by race and/or disability – or face fines.
  • Labour has also launched a specific race and equality manifesto, which as well as detailing some of the above, also introduces a new Race Equality Unit based within the Treasury which will review major spending announcements for its impact on BAME communities.
  • If elected, they will launch a wide-ranging review into the underrepresentation of BAME teachers in schools.

To read more on Labour's election policies, visit here.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have been vocal about reversing Brexit as a key priority, but that's not all that they are focussing on. Leader Jo Swinson has set clear policies with her party on what they would implement should they come to power in December. Whilst sport and physical activity doesn't feature heavily, the Lib Dems have put forward clear ideas on what they would like to do with health and equality and diversity.

Sport and physical activity – what are the Lib Dems saying?

  • If elected, they want to move towards introducing 'safe standing' at football clubs, requiring the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to prepare guidance for implementing this change.
  • They will support anti-racism and anti-homophobia campaigns in sport.
  • They have pledged to protect sports and arts funding via the National Lottery.

Health -

  • The Lib Dems want to guarantee that every child who is eligible for free school meals has access to at least an hour a day of free activities to improve their health and wellbeing. Local authorities will be funded through the public health grant to deliver the 'Wellbeing Hour' according to local needs, for example through voluntary organisations or after-school clubs.
  • They will fund public information campaigns to tackle stigmas within specific communities.
  • They will publish a National Wellbeing Strategy, which will put better health and wellbeing for all at the heart of government. Ministers from all departments will be responsible for implementing the strategy.
  • They will keep public health within local government, where it is effectively joined-up with preventive community services. The Lib Dems have pledged to reinstate the funding that was cut from public health budgets by the Conservatives and join up services across public health and the NHS.

Equality and diversity -

  • If elected, the Lib Dems seek to outlaw caste discrimination.
  • They will continue the drive for diversity in business leadership, pushing for at least 40 per cent of board members being women in FTSE 350 companies and implementing the recommendations of the Parker review to increase ethnic minority representation.
  • They will extend the Equality Act to all large companies with more than 250 employees, requiring them to monitor and publish data on gender, BAME, and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps.
  • A Liberal Democrat government would extend the use of name-blind recruitment processes in the public sector and encourage their use in the private sector.
  • They would improve diversity in public appointments by setting ambitious targets, which go further than targets for the private sector, and require reporting against progress with explanations when targets are not met.
  • They will develop a free, comprehensive unconscious bias training toolkit and make the provision of unconscious bias training to all members of staff a condition of the receipt of public funds.
  • They will develop a government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities and review the funding of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ensure that it is adequate.
  • The Lib Dems would establish a national fund for projects that work in schools to raise the aspirations of ethnic minority children and young people.

Find out more on the Lib Dem policies by visiting this page.

Brexit Party

The Brexit Party has released a “Contract with the People”, which party officials have stated is not a fully-fledged manifesto. Whilst it doesn't make any specific commitments for the sport and physical activity sector, or equality and diversity, it does contain a pledge to introduce an immigration system that doesn't discriminate on race and steering the NHS away from any form of private investment. Unsurprisingly, the Brexit Party's manifesto focusses on exactly what one would expect, exiting the European Union and its institutions. Somewhat interestingly, the “Contract” also states that where five million citizens agree on it, a referendum must be called. How many people signed that petition for a second EU referendum again...?

You can read the full Contract here.

What do we want?

Sporting Equals endeavours to bring about greater change in sport and physical activity, not only on the pitch, field or track but also boardrooms and for the workforce. Although steps are being taken to increase ethnic diversity within the boardrooms of the sport and physical activity sector, it's not enough. This year, research by Sport England and UK Sport found that only 5.2% of board members of 130 organisations were from a BAME background. This is despite approximately 14% of the UK population being BAME. Sporting Equals is already taking action to change this, through the LeaderBoard Academy, where alongside the University of Leicester we select BAME individuals with the passion, knowledge and empathy towards the sector and put them through a programme to get them "board ready". Sporting Equals is ecstatic to report that since the first cohort graduated in March 2019, one-third of graduates are now on a Board.

But the representation issue doesn't only lie with senior positions, it's the general workforce too. We believe that there is an onus on sports organisations to collect data on the ethnicity of its workforce, members and participants. Without accurate information, it's difficult to determine a start point to monitor progress in tackling underrepresentation in sport and physical activity. This is something that we stress through our Race Equality Charter, which focusses on three key themes: Capture, Commit and Celebrate. By integrating the 3 C's into sport and physical activity, we believe that BAME representation can be improved.

Capture ethnicity data and intelligence to enable the sports organisation to establish a baseline position and measure progress over time.

Commit to tackling underrepresentation at all levels through positive action.

Celebrate positive role models and stories.

It's really important that whichever party comes into government, it understands the importance of sport and physical activity. Sport is also a fantastic vessel for bringing communities together and creating greater cohesion. Sport and physical activity limits loneliness, but can also have positive impacts on education and enrich someone's employment opportunity.

Of course, there is also a vast array of health benefits both physically and mentally through participation in sport. It is estimated that regular physical activity saves the NHS £357 million a year, however, many life-threatening diseases that can be largely prevented through physical activity, are most prevalent amongst those from a BAME background.

  • Type 2 Diabetes rates are five times higher for British Asians than the white population – Bradford Institute for Health Research
  • The Active Lives Survey consistently shows that those from a Black or South Asian background are the least active.
  • Research by the Sport and Recreation Alliance found that 40% of BAME participants have endured a negative experience in sports or physical activity… Compared to just 14% of their white counterparts.

We are calling on the next government to put sport and physical activity participation as a priority.

Last year, Sporting Equals held the British Asians in Sport and Physical Activity (BASPA) Summit with the support of Sport England and the ECB. After identifying issues specifically faced by British South Asians, we collectively decided that we needed to campaign to get these voices heard. Following an inaugural meeting of the BASPA Advisory Board this October, the group is seeking to campaign on increasing representation in our sector amongst the British Asian community across four key themes: Coaching, Talent, Workforce and Inactivity. Keep your eyes peeled for its upcoming manifesto of change for the sport and physical activity sector. For more information on BASPA or any other issues raised, please get in touch.