‘Where is the outrage here for Apsana? How does Keir Starmer look at himself in a mirror?’ ‘They know it’s wrong’. Party’s persistent safeguarding failures and enablement of abuse contrast with lengths to protect of white right-wingers
The Labour party has been accused of racism in its treatment of black and Asian women MPs after further revelations about its behaviour toward Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum – and the stark contrast between the way it has treated Begum and the strident demands of Labour right-wingers to protect white, right-wing women MPs from deselection.
Skwawkbox has previously covered the scandal of Labour’s stitch-up of Begum in the ‘trigger’ ballot process to decide whether she will stand again as a Labour candidate in the next general election. That rigging of the process looks to all intents and purposes like a continuation of the right’s efforts to remove a left-wing woman of colour after its attempt to oust her through the courts by means of trumped-up charges failed humiliatingly when she was rightly acquitted, leaving right-wing staffers skulking away from the courthouse where they had been lurking ready to announce the contest to replace her when, as they expected, she was convicted.
The bullying and intimidation she and other women in the constituency party have faced during the trigger protest have been widely attested by locals, but as Pamela Fitzpatrick revealed during a video interview on the Not the Andrew Marr Show, the scandal goes well beyond that with the party itself abandoning its duty of care despite an intervention by Begum’s domestic violence advocate who said she should not be facing such treatment when she is currently seriously ill.
Some of the other scandals being perpetrated include:
- allowing people closely linked to her ex-husband to run the trigger process – some of whom had already been involved in the now-disgraced attempt to criminalise her
- allowing a Labour official to oversee the process who is the subject of complaints for allegedly defaming Ms Begum about her supposed crime after she had been acquitted
- bullying and intimidation around branch meetings in the trigger process, especially toward ethnic minority women
- treatment of Begum by the party that amounts to an extension of the domestic abuse she has suffered, according to a domestic violence expert
And Fitzpatrick pointed out the grim contrast between the abuse of Apsana Begum and how vocally the same Labour establishment had demanded special protection for white women MPs during triggers for the last general election:
Ms Begum has been admitted to hospital and the pressure can’t have helped, but Labour have consistently ignored requests by her staff to delay the trigger process as well as the calls from the formal domestic violence advocate, instead pursuing Begum’s removal in her absence – and falsely briefing its friendly journalists that there had been no complaints about the process.
Apsana Begum is far from an isolated incident. When Muslim woman MP Zarah Sultana faced foul racist abuse and threats, the party leadership did not even put out a tweet to support or defend her, or even to express disapproval of the way she was being treated.
When black woman MP Claudia Webbe faced criminal trial with no evidence against her apart from the word of the white girlfriend of Webbe’s abusive fiancée – who was proven in court to have lied repeatedly while the Met Police withheld evidence – the party gave her no support whatever and fell over itself in its haste to expel her, despite the obvious injustice of a case that has been condemned by the Society of Black Lawyers as racism and a miscarriage of justice. As a result of the media’s misrepresentation of the case and Labour’s public comments and unnamed briefings to the media against her, Webbe was targeted for murder attempts by men in two separate cases, one of whom went on to kill Tory MP David Amess.
And as Labour’s first black woman MP, Diane Abbott, faced ill health and disgusting racist abuse, right-wing party staff mocked her – and MP Wes Streeting subsequently shouted in her face in a Commons corridor and left witnesses horrified and the ‘disgusting’ and ‘disgraceful’ abuse. Rather than be punished for his conduct, Streeting was promoted to Starmer’s front bench and is now the party’s Shadow Health Secretary and being touted by his allies as the next party leader.
The contrast with the right’s vocal protection of white right-wingers could hardly be more stark, for example Harriet Harman’s 2019 demand that Ellie Reeves should not face a trigger process because Reeves was pregnant, or the demonisation by the right and their media allies of ordinary party members in Wavertree because they wanted to hold a democratic vote on whether they could continue to support Luciana Berger as their MP because they saw her as knowingly undermining the chances of a Labour government – and the pressure put on then-party leader Corbyn to ask them to withdraw the votes. Berger subsequently defected to the farcical and racist-adjacent ‘Change UK’ and then on to the LibDems.
And others in the party who style themselves as leading activists for women’s rights and against domestic violence have similarly been deafening in their silence on the abuse of Apsana Begum – or for that matter noticeably for any of the women MPs of colour so grossly abused.
Compounding the crime
The Labour party and its regional offices, especially in London, have frequently been accused of interfering in party democracy and protecting right-wingers from the consequences of their actions. And last week the party compounded its abuse of Apsana Begum by telling the Mirror newspaper that it takes ‘all complaints of abuse very seriously’ – and then immediately dismissing the abuse toward Begum by snidely adding that branches were voting to get rid of her and that this must be a comment on her performance, as if the allegations of abuse and rigging did not exist when they were in fact the subject of the very Mirror article on which they were being asked to comment.
Labour insiders and members in Poplar and Limehouse have told Skwawkbox that there is no doubt in their minds that the treatment of Apsana Begum is not only grossly abusive, misogynistic and hypocritical, but that it is a continuation of a fundamental and widespread racism among the Labour right, particularly toward women of colour and Muslim women especially.
This site cannot help but agree with the conclusion.
SKWAWKBOX needs your help. The site is provided free of charge but depends on the support of its readers to be viable. If you’d like to help it keep revealing the news as it is and not what the Establishment wants you to hear – and can afford to without hardship – please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here to set up a monthly donation via GoCardless (SKWAWKBOX will contact you to confirm the GoCardless amount). Thanks for your solidarity so SKWAWKBOX can keep doing its job.
If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.