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Black woman councillor quits Labour over racism and bullying – as another threatened with expulsion for complaining

“I have endured more racism and bullying in my five years in the Labour Party than the rest of my life combined”, says Marcia Hutchinson MBE, while another black woman councillor was given a written warning and threatened with expulsion for asking for abuse to stop

A Black woman councillor has resigned only six months after being elected – because she says that the bullying and racism she faced within the Labour party was the worst she has experienced.

Marcia Hutchinson, who received an MBE for services to multicultural education, was elected as councillor for Ancoats and Beswick in May. But in her resignation letter she accuses the party of protecting white establishment figures and binning race awareness training promised after she complained.

She also details the racism she faced because of attempts to bring more black representation onto the council of a city whose population is more than ten percent black – and says that she and others who did not ‘toe the leadership line’ were ‘ruthlessly bullied’:

This work [to correct the imbalance on the council] was not welcomed by some in Labour Party Leadership positions. I have been informed on more than one occasion that I am racist and engaging in Identity Politics. I was even told that I must apologize for my racism in order to be supported by certain sections of the Labour Party.

In 2019 I was elected as Women’s Officer for the Local Campaign Forum which covers the five
Manchester Labour Constituencies. The only two shortlisted candidates were myself and another black woman, Ekua Bayunu.

Despite the fact that delegates could abstain, eight out of 53 chose instead to write derogatory
comments on their ballot papers. (Eg – “they’re both shite”). They only did this when both candidates were black. To sit in a room knowing that almost 15% of those also present are willing to write such things is traumatising. I am eternally grateful to over 100 comrades who found this behaviour vile enough to organise and sign a letter of protest.

After a Regional and National investigation, Manchester Labour finally agreed to implement Race Awareness training. But this was hastily cancelled as soon as lockdown was announced and, unlike all other training, it has never been rescheduled.

As a new councillor, I entered a culture where councillors who do not toe the Leadership line are
ruthlessly bullied. Criticism is simply not tolerated. Any objections to policies which the Leader has decided to implement are dismissed as coming from the ‘sectarian left’. More often than not, the Whips Office is the tool used to carry out the bullying but the culture came from the top.

When, for instance, I pointed out, in the aftermath of the Sarah Everard murder that more tolerence is given to male councillors who have engaged in violence against women (including Richard Leese himself) than female councillors who protest against it; Cllr Leese sent a letter to all 94 councillors as well senior council officers stating among other things that:-

“ I have never experienced one member causing so much anger in the group and I want them to
know that something is being done about it. Marcia is one of a small number that complains about a toxic atmosphere in the group. I’m inclined to agree with her, but it wasn’t like that
before they ‘joined’ us,”

[Richard Leese accepted a caution for hitting his stepdaughter, according to the Manchester Evening News in 2010]

And Hutchinson says that the opposition to the plan to make the council more representative was also directed down from above:

I was threatened with disciplinary action by the Whips Office for tweeting support for Pipeline Project Alumni who were shortlisted for council seats. Apparently there is an unwritten rule that forbids support for candidates who are standing against sitting councillors. I say ‘unwritten’ because I checked the Labour Party rulebook and I broke no rules. I did not campaign against any councillor, I simply tweeted in support of all shortlisted Pipeline Alumni. But to those who think being a councillor is a job for life; the two things are synonymous.

Richard Leese wrote another email to all 94 Labour Group councillors which confirmed that I ‘broke no rules’ but condemned me anyway, having allegedly received a ‘large number’ of complaints about me.

Other senior councillors also targeted her, leading her to conclude:

This was not a working environment in which I could function. Colleagues stopped returning my calls and even Council Officers failed to respond to emails. If you have ever been the subject of a group bullying pile-on you will know just how stressful it is.

Yet when she took time off for stress – and in spite of presenting a sick note from her doctor – she found herself being investigated by the Labour group, receiving a message that informed her:

Following your engagement with the Labour Group by virtual attendance and participation in the vote for the new leader and subsequent posts on social media my view is that we can now proceed with investigations [into her complaints and notifying her of an investigation into her own conduct].

But Ms Hutchinson says that what she has faced from supposed colleagues is not the most extreme:

Sadly my experience is not the worst. Fellow new black Cllr Ekua Bayunu, has been under near constant disciplinary action from the day in May that she challenged Richard Leese for the Leadership. Cllr Bayunu’s challenge combined with a feared deselection in his home seat of Crumpsall could well have been the issues which brought home the fact that his days were numbered.

Cllr Bayunu is still being disciplined by the Whips Office. Her latest crime? Sending out a copy of her Manifesto for the October Leadership election to those councillors who requested it.

They can (and probably will) keep up this bullying indefinitely and it is designed to wear us down. The fact that this treatment is being meted out to the two new black women councillors is apparently entirely coincidental. The narrative being pushed is that they are not bullying us because we are black, they are doing it because we are terrible people.

Labour has been heavily criticised under Keir Starmer for anti-black racism, as well as its Islamophobia, anti-Gypsy racism and its war on left-wing Jews – and for the lack of action by the leadership against rampant racism among the Labour right.

Cllr Leese was contacted for comment via Manchester Labour group but neither had responded by the time of publication. However, a Manchester Labour spokesperson told the ‘mainstream’ press that the group’s whips had investigated all Ms Hutchinson’s allegations and found them to be untrue.

Ms Hutchinson’s resignation letter contains links to relevant news articles and attachments showing emails sent by Cllr Leese and others, such as the one below:

The email in which former council leader Richard Leese accused black councillor Marcia Hutchinson of causing anger and a toxic atmosphere, which formed part of her complaint

Cllr Ekua Bayunu, who has faced worse racism and harassment according to Ms Hutchinson, told Skwawkbox that the Labour group’s response to her own plea for the bullying to stop was ‘an immediate written warning and threat of expulsion’:

There has been an enduring and sustained bullying campaign waged against two new black women socialist councillors. We both received and experienced this as a direct attack on our ability to do the job we’d been elected to.

Marcia truly believes that she can better serve both the people of Ancoats & Beswick and the African Caribbean communities of the city outside the political influences of Manchester City Council.

That’s a very sad testament to how local Labour Party politics are failing working class communities across the city. And how much work we still have to do to not only recruit but also retain committed women councillors. Having the only African Caribbean councillor forced out of her role is a devastating blow to this city.

I’d hoped to be able to say a city proud of its welcoming inclusivity has been let down by a small minority, but actually it’s time to be clear how many of the Labour Group have failed to live up to a standard we should expect of our cities representatives.

I’ve seen residents beginning to ask this question of their councillors and I hope we will begin to see the demand for an inclusive and welcoming Labour Group, an end to a biased and poorly managed disciplinary process and a leader who will never stoop to calling anyone’s ward constituents ‘Horrible people’ or allowing councillor comrades to write abusive racist messages on ballot papers when selecting black women for any positions in the city.

I’m staying to continue this work for as long as I can, though in the weeks prior to Marcia’s resignation I asked the Group Officers and Whips to stop bullying new black women councillors.

Their response! An immediate written warning and threat of expulsion.

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23 comments

  1. The treatment of these two Black women is disgusting and reminiscent of how Diane Abbott has been treated for decades.
    Diane received no support whatsoever from the “White feminists” in the PLP. The Chair of the Womens PLP Jess Phillips even went so far as to mock and belittle Diane herself.
    Others such as Harriet Harmon and Yvette Cooper were falling over themselves to support Laura Kuenssberg who was allegedly threatened but ignored the death and rape threats directed at Diane.
    No white member of the PLP has ever explained the lack of support for Diane. I have no alternative therefore but to assume that racism and their right wing politics were the motivating factors.
    The same bigotry – racism (and sexism )- and political intolerance lies behind the bullying attacks on Marcia and Ekua. Its about time Keir Starmer did something about the disgusting treatment of Black Socialist women and instigated disciplinary action against the bullies. He won’t of course because he is as bad if not worse than they are and there is a very good chance that Ekua will be expelled for “antisemitism” in the near future.

  2. Given Labour’s effort to reap Tory votes and its cowardly pandering to the MSM in pursuit of electoral gain, what can be expected but a reinforcement of old prejudices? The UK is built on racism in the important sense that our wealth comes from conquest of supposedly “lesser” peoples in order to stack up lucre. Racism is a product of that colonialism and the tolerance which has been won is a far cry from the elimination of racism. Labour has been a predominantly white, male party since its inception.Throwback attitudes have been characteristic of its leadership: Callaghan believed homosexuality was immoral. Wilson wrote a book called The Chariot of Israel, praising the establishment of a Jewish State (imagine the outcry today if any politician were to praise the creation of an Islamic State). Chariots went out of fashion in about 50AD. There is also in Labour that ingrained culture of ownership: we own our wards, we own our voters and we own our seats on the council. There is very little celebration of genuine democracy and a great deal of entitlement. Anyone familiar with municipal Labour politics will know how the councillors become a self-serving clique. What is truly both despicable and laughable is that Starmer and his faceless bureaucrats have expelled thousands of activists, most of them committed anti-racists, on the grounds that they are racists. By doing so, of course, he has opened the ground for the real racists: Hodge, Ellman and the rest of the crew who suck the polish off the boots of Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett and relish the oppression of the Palestinians. Of course, Arabs have dark skins. Proof of their backwardness. Marcia and Ekua have challenged the racist, reactionary heart of Labour. That’s why they’ve been attacked. Labour is a shambles, a hopeless confusion and an affront to democracy. Nandy said it must change or die. Nearly right. It is changing into a thoroughly reactionary force and that is suicide.

    1. “our wealth comes from conquest of supposedly “lesser” peoples in order to stack up lucre…”
      For “our” please read “Their.”
      The basis of imperialism was the dispossession of the working people through various policies the most notable of which was the enclosure of communally farmed land, pastures and ‘waste’. The people of England and Wales were the first victims of a system which produced the empire and, in the colonies, extended the privatisation of land and resources abroad.
      The farmers in India are struggling to day against the very system, tested at home, which the ruling class imposed on that country.
      One of the great weaknesses of the socialist tradition in the UK has been the readiness with which it has accepted the imperialist myth that the working class benefitted from the Empire- it didn’t. And the solidarity natural between workers, regardless of race, is founded in a common history of abuse at the hands of the capitalist class. Those who believe that this is about race should take a long look at Johnson’s Cabinet.

  3. Any tweet of solidarity or outrage from Jess mouthpiece Philips?

    Bet you won’t see one, neither…

    1. Of course you won’t hear from Jess – the women, just like Diane Abbott, are Black and therefore Jess is not interested in the abuse they had to endure. She’ll probably just mock them like she mocked Diane, the most vilified and abused woman in parliament.

    2. Here’s a challenge, post ANY ONE Tweet/Message of Support from ANY ONE White European Zionist Woman MP to ANY ONE Black, Muslim, Other Minorities including “Fringe” and Black Jewish Woman MPs, after suffering the Horrendous Racist Abuse they faced, 2015 to date, on a daily basis, and still finding their cases and themselves under the Neo-New-Labour Party TORIES Extra Plush Rug of Eternity!

  4. Has the party bleeds away the socialist members you end up with a broad church brigade which is code for anything goes in a hollowed out Labour party and the result means a increase in narrow right wing propaganda and a increase in racism and sectarianism..look to N.Ireland were the increase in physical attacks on immigrants and Catholics is increasing daily whilst the leader of the Labour party alarmingly supports unionist ideology in a continuation of partition of Ireland….This is the Labour party today.that is indistinguishable from the conservative and unionist party in all of its ideology and actions..

  5. A vacumn of any political strategy prior to Corbyn left them paranoid and vindictive and with Starmers permission are now unleashing vitriol one thought only existed elsewhere. What a disgusting excuse for a party

  6. Not entirely speaking to the subject bu did anyone watch PMQ
    this lunchtime? There was a complaint by a Labour MP ( Bradford East , Imran Hussain ?)
    concerning removal of citizenship. He first gave a history of his family,
    then spoke of the Windrush scandal and deportation and asked
    “When is my turn?”

    The PM spluttered as per and said “Take that back .. etc etc ..” and
    denied that the bill was anything about Citizenship Removal. In fact
    he was as usual being economic with the actualité for a hidden Clause
    does provide powers for removal of citizenship. See

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/nov/17/new-bill-quietly-gives-powers-to-remove-british-citizenship-without-notice

    Ive not seen any fresh reports in the MSM about this exchange in PMQ –
    I hope this misinformation is corrected

    1. HolbyFanMw, why talk about removal of “citizenship”. British people aren’t citizens but subjects of the Crown. Hence, how something that you don’t have (citizenship) can be removed?
      Therefore, shouldn’t Imran Hussain MP, talk about the need of becoming citizens? about British people stopping been subjects?
      OMG is this the expected quality of Labour MPs ones that they don’t know or understand the different between been citizens and subjects,no wonder Labour doesn’t win General Election if this is an example as to the the quality of its MPs.

      1. Mariah – Well its called “citizenship” … even though we are subjects.
        Unfortunately to remove it has the same effect whatever you call it ..

        Deportation usually ..

        I would rather be a “subject not a citizen” than deported ..

        Though Citizenship would be better

  7. I think we can safely say that the Labour bit the dust when socialists were witchunted out of the party and the PLP…..Jeremy Corbyns only avenue is unfortunately the courts when he his clearly fit for the PLP if hes fit for the membership of the Labour party.I would not normaly urge anyone to seek justice in the courts because it is a lottery and I have a problem with gambling so the Racing post told everyone who is capable of reading and gambling..,but Jeremy corbyn has the funding and I would love to see him humiliate the whole bunch inside the aptly named Lotto office especially the knight.

  8. The labour party. Where if your face doesn’t fit, you’re shafted. Racism is a particularly nasty means of eviction.

    Disgusting!

    1. If you’re not a White Priveleged European Zionist Jew or Non-Jew you are “The UNDESERVING POOR”!
      Doff your cap and piss off round the back while the Privileged White Neoliberal Neo-New-Labour TORIES are being served!
      https://ibb.co/8Br8ZM0

  9. The right wing Labour establishment have a sense of entitlement that will brook no opposition; they locked Corbyn out of the Party’s HQ on election night 2017 and this is another manifestation. By ‘unity’ they mean dictatorship: there is no democracy unless the vote has been rigged beforehand.

    I suspect if they could kick half the voters off the electoral roll they would.

    1. Dunno about you, Steve, but I’ve certainly noticed a pattern. This isn’t the same sort of screaming mi-mi’s that lammy has a penchant for.

      Prejudice against anyone of any colour – provided they are on or of the left – is rife throughout that party.

      1. Lammy abstained on the Windrush bill. A Bill that ensured dozens of his black constituents were forcibly removed from their friends and family and sent to another Country. Lammy is a snake.

      2. Reply to Baz
        Thanks for the info. I didn’t know that Lammy abstained in the vote on the Windrush Bill. I hope this is well publicised prior to the next election so that his constituents can return the favour and abstain from voting for him as their MP. Maybe then he’ll realise that you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you.

  10. Off-topic but I just seen a report of a young boy starved and tortured to death by his so-called father & skank of a stepmother.

    I am fucking raging

    Vermin like those two, along with nonces of any sort, corrupt plod and terrorists should NOT be given ANY preferential treatment i.e. NO segregation for starters.

    Short of experimenting on those two on particular (they’re of no other use to society) they should be put on with the normal lags, with details around their neck of the snide they have committed.

    The screws can’t be there all the time. Cameras gave blind spots….

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