Group demands immediate reinstatement to London Assembly list
The Labour Black Socialists group has issued a statement supporting Preston Tabois, the Haringey councillor who has been deselected by the Labour party – despite being already reinstated to full membership after a suspension over social media posts that had allegedly been edited by complainants – and accusing the party of racism in his deselectio:
Labour Black Socialists note that Preston Tabois, a Labour Party Councillor in Tottenham, a Unite trade union activist backed by Momentum, and the only African Caribbean on the party’s list of 10 for the Greater London Assembly, has been removed as a candidate by a newly reconvened NEC panel, chaired by Margaret Beckett MP. Apparently, the cause for his removal is likely to be a Tweet from six years ago, for which he has already been taken to task by a previous NEC panel who recommended he remain on the list after he acknowledged the issue and apologised. The latest development is discriminatory and goes against natural justice.
LBS demand the immediate reinstatement of Preston Tabois to the Labour List for the Greater London Assembly.
LBS demand that the decision to remove Preston from the List and the Panel that took it be immediately investigated.
Our charge is one of racism based on a biased and unfair application of rules of the Labour Party.
The NEC panel failed to consider the duty to equality in their decision and their duty to be morally and politically consistent.
A panel led by Ms Margaret Beckett should have the compassion and political sensitivity to know that political misspeaking is a problem that all of us can slip into quite easily. Recently, Ms Beckett was not suspended for calling a fellow NEC member, who was doing her job for the members, a “silly cow”. That is an old anti-feminist trope. And an experienced MP and NEC member should have known that was politically a misstep. Her apology for one of the oldest anti-feminist abstractions used by men was accepted.
That same panel should have noted when Keir Starmer misspoke about BLM as a moment rather than a movement, his apology was accepted and he was sent off for a bit of unconscious bias training to address his alleged prejudices.
There is also great inconsistency in the removal of a candidacy from a member who acknowledged their Tweet from 6 years ago was wrong and apologised for it; and, for example, the lack of any meaningful sanction against another more prominent member who had an almost two-decade self-admitted corporate complicity with Apartheid when serving all the while as a Labour Councillor and now as a senior Labour Party MP. An MP who admitted profiting from a crime against humanity that affected tens of millions of black people. The same MP who, hypocritically, led a Council that had voted to impose economic and cultural sanctions against Apartheid South Africa. A person associated with complicity with Apartheid and who has not yet demonstrated the undertaking of suitable redress for those faults. Yet that MP is still a member and still has the Labour whip. In contrast to Jeremy Corbyn, an MP who had in fact spent decades fighting against Apartheid and still waits to have the whip restored. Against this backdrop, it is morally inconceivable that a councillor should be removed as a GLA candidate for a tweet from 6 years ago for which he has already acknowledged fault and apologised.
In Liverpool, the leading candidate was a black woman who had not said, or done, anything wrong. Leaked videos revealed that there were actually problems with what was said in court by the Labour party and what had actually happened. The cancellation of her candidacy for Liverpool Executive Mayor was completely unjustified. An unedifying mess has followed. In preference to the black woman cancelled by the Labour Party, the Tories are now going to exercise technocratic control over a Labour-majority Council that had never been ruled by the Tories.
The current Labour Party candidate in Hartlepool is not on the cutting edge of equality for all irrespective of differences in class, gender, ethnicity, religion and national origin. Yet, he remains a candidate after having been on a long-list of one.
The Labour Party has a duty to be consistent and its obvious failure to do so disproportionately affects black people. This is where its duty to consider the equality impact of its administrative decisions becomes relevant.
LBS urges the Labour Party NEC to reverse its decision in the case of Preston Tabois. He is a good councillor, brings the perspective of working-class black people into local government and could have been sent for the same unconscious bias training that appears to have worked with Keir Starmer. Or the party could be consistent and ignore the issue as it is doing with the senior MP with a self-admitted two-decade corporate complicity with a crime against humanity.
The Labour Party has to stop this attack on black, Muslim and socialist candidates, especially those who want justice for all, including all people in Israel-Palestine.
It should not be that the Labour Party continues to prioritise clumsy (and in this case wrong and prejudiced) statements about anti-Semitism; but does nothing about, and even champions, those within the Party who promote policies that deny the equal right to dignity of Palestinians.
Also, the Labour Party has to stop giving precedence to structures that are not affiliated to, and have no standing in, the Labour Party when it comes to matters of discipline, suspensions and expulsions.
Moreover, the Labour Party should stop cultivating this unsafe and unwelcome environment for black people, Muslims and socialists. The Labour Party, if it wishes to be a government-in-waiting, has to be a broad church. For the past year, there has been an unqualified commitment to shift the Labour Party to the right at the cost of black people, Muslims and socialists:
The Labour Party must reinstate Preston Tabois as a sign of creating a safe and welcoming space for black people in its house.
LBS would also request a more robust response from Unite, in particular, and the trade union movement in general. The TUC Black Workers Conference was held only a few days ago. This is an opportunity for unions to make the aspirations of those deliberations become real. The trade unions cannot be doing as little as they are in defending another trade union activist. Yes, he had a bad tweet – for which he had already been held to account, and for which he had apologised. In the trade unions we do not expel people just because they mis-tweet and misspeak. We train them. The trade unions ought to have more to say about this key worker’s suspension.
This episode again demonstrates that the Labour Party is losing its way on equalities issues. This action by the party, as undertaken by the individuals on the NEC panel who have removed Preston Tabois from his candidacy in the GLA elections, arguably constitutes wrongdoing with a far more inequitable impact than anything Preston has done (and for which he has taken responsibility and apologised). With the range of allegedly discriminatory actions taken by the party in recent times it could well be opening itself up to a potential lawsuit under the Equalities Act 2010 (Public Sector Equalities Duty). The individuals involved in taking the decision to remove Preston have also now placed themselves under scrutiny of the Campaign for an Actively Antiracist Labour Party.
We should all expect better from the Labour movement. It must act to address these deficiencies – within the Labour Party itself, and in the Trades Unions.
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