Labour politicians and members will gather tonight at 5pm in Parliament Square to protest against racism in the party and Keir Starmer’s apparent lack of interest in taking action against the rampant racism of the Labour right that was confirmed by the Forde Inquiry, which Starmer himself commissioned.
375 Labour members including MPs and other elected politicians, have signed an open letter by Diane Abbott and local member Lucie Scott, condemning Starmer’s and the party’s silence and inaction on the Forde Report and the disrespect they indicate for the abuse and violation experienced by black party members, as typified by the appalling treatment of Ms Abbott – and demanding:
- action against perpetrators
- a public apology and acknowledgement from Starmer himself
- action to correct the party’s disproportionate targeting of black and ethnic minority members
- a breakdown of the last five years’ suspensions and expulsions by ethnic background
- a proper response to and action on the submissions by black and minority groups to the Forde Inquiry
- an audit of the party’s ethnic make-up
- a system to monitor the experience of ethnic minorities in the party
- a proper voice for black and minority groups in the party
And it warns Starmer that:
We have demands now and expect to be heard. Our democratic rights through these new structures are being denied. This is unacceptable and all things considered is racial discrimination.
The Forde Report highlights multiple instances of racism by right-wing Labour figures, as well as extensive abuse toward other groups and gross abuses of democracy and proper process. It describes comments by senior staff about Diane Abbott as:
expressions of visceral disgust, drawing (consciously or otherwise) on racist tropes.
The lack of response to the racism exposed in the Forde Report continues an expression of contempt for minority members on the part of the Starmer regime – one that even saw Starmer create an all-white ‘equalities panel’ that actively excluded the party’s most senior ‘BAME’ employee.
Councillor Valerie Bossman-Quarshie told eachother.org.uk:
We need our party to understand what we’re going through. We walk in the room and we feel alienated or feel like you’re the only one at the table…
I try to make the place a better space for all of us. But not if I’m going to be marginalised. Not if my voice isn’t going to matter. Not if I’m going to be made invisible.
Black MP Kate Osamor told the group:
Martin Forde QC received an avalanche of testimony from Black members who painfully recounted the racism and discrimination they continue to experience in the party. So far, their testimony has been ignored by the Labour leadership.
When the Forde report was commissioned, it was clear that some hoped it would be a damning indictment of the previous leadership. But what we got was a forensic account of current systemic issues of racism that exist within the party.
Those conclusions cannot be ignored just because they are politically inconvenient for some. As the public face of the party, Sir Keir has a responsibility to respond now and lay out a way forward.
A Labour spokesperson said the usual thing about taking all forms of racism seriously. Try telling that to the Labour Muslim Network, Gypsy Roma people, left-wing Jews and, clearly, the party’s black members, who have all seen figures who abused them protected, publicly welcomed back or even promoted. The party’s own website makes clear that it operates a hierarchy of racism.
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