As protests fill the streets, the Labour Leaks scandal is leaving many Black people ‘politically homeless’

UK protesters at a Black Lives Matter protest
Ed Sykes

In solidarity with US mass protests against institutional racism, Black people in the UK have also taken to the streets. As this justice movement gains momentum, however, the current Labour Party leadership seems to be leaving some Black supporters politically homeless. Because many see its sluggish response to the racism revealed in the Labour Leaks scandal as utterly unacceptable.

Critics have called out Labour Leaks revelations of “anti-black racism”. And some sent letters of solidarity to MPs Diane Abbott, Dawn Butler, and Clive Lewis, who had been targets of abuse. But it seems likely the scandal will be a whitewash, with the current leadership seemingly kicking potential action into the long grass.

Labour “losing Black members”

Journalist Nadine White recently released a powerful report describing how Labour’s perceived inaction was pushing some Black supporters away:

Writing in the Huffington Post, she explained how the Labour Leaks scandal had “fuelled allegations of anti-Black racism at the heart of the party”. And she claimed many voters felt “politically homeless” as a result; with campaigners saying concerns had “not been adequately addressed by the party’s leadership”. She added that “some have expressed concerns that Afriphobia [anti-black racism] within the party is not taken as seriously” as, for example, allegations of antisemitism.

One Labour member who left after the Labour Leaks affair said:

I cannot donate money to party that claims to be on our side but completely takes Black people for granted.

Another stressed that:

Black people are going to have to stick our necks out, go with another party – in my case it’ll be the Green Party – and let Westminster know that our votes don’t come cheap: there are conditions.

White later reported on a letter from over 2,000 party activists claiming the party was at risk of losing support from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community. Its co-author said:

We are seeing a loss of trust in Labour within BAME communities, appalled by the allegations of racism within the party machine

Labour insisted it was “committed to challenging and campaigning against racism, within the party and the country”.

Black Lives Matter

The ruling Conservative Party’s record of racism, of course, is much worse than Labour’s. A former Tory minister, for example, said in 2001 that the party had an “endemic racism” problem. And current prime minister Boris Johnson himself has previously used racist caricatures to describe Black people. Indeed, his long record of discriminatory comments against people who aren’t upper-class white males has made him the very embodiment of an elitist, racist party with fascist allies. The Windrush and Grenfell scandals also come to mind.

Just this weekend, the Conservative government has faced accusations of covering up structural racism in an official report:

But the Tories being terrible shouldn’t let Labour off the hook. And that’s why many Black progressives are rightly calling out Labour’s woeful response to the Labour Leaks scandal. Black Lives Matter. And Black people deserve so much better.

Featured image via screengrab

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  • Show Comments
    1. This article is a timely reminder to Labour leadership – unless the actively ‘reach out’ and commit to radical changes which narrow the gulf(s) between the voters they need to retain and win back they will become another LibDem irrelevance.

      Right now, Labour have to get up and prove commitment to BAME voters, and show understanding for BLM grievances. That is the work for now.

      But very soon they must also get out and argue, and convince both the marchers and the wider community, that racism is only one brick in a wall of oppression and to fix racism we have to pull down the whole wall.

      Ending racism is not just good news for BAME community but for everyone not an oligarch or part of the 1%. Action on racism is like taking a pickaxe and using it to pull down the wall of oppression that keeps everyone whatever their race in poverty and powerlessness. Helping BAME is not ignoring other issues (pandemic, economy, environment, injustice to others in society) but the point of departure for a long walk of change which will transform everything that is long overdue for dragging into the C21st. That unifying message has to be heard.

      We must not allow Tories and FarRight to twist action on racism into ‘victimisation of white working class’ or a ‘distraction’ from the crises of pandemic or environment because it certainly is not. If we can raise the condition of BAME citizens we can make a political movement that pulls everyone up to a better place. Unless we have a ‘black new deal’ there is no point in chasing a ‘green new deal’ because a deal which leaves racism entrenched in society and condemns millions to poverty and oppression is not new and not a deal worth supporting.

      I care passionately about saving the planet but what I say is that no plant can grow unless it has its roots in good black earth. We should apply that principle to politics – a ‘black new deal’ has to be at the foundations of a ‘green new deal’ and without a ‘green new deal’ there is no future for any human being, black, brown, white or whatever. So, that is the thread that links the BAME BLM struggle to all the other Leftwing struggles we need to win against racism for ALL our sakes.

      how Labour have, or are willing to develop, policies, processes, and political leaders that can and will fix these existential threats – fix racism and expose how it is used to keep everyone opp

    2. We need an accurate list of the victims of the witch-hunt, identifying ethnicity and, where appropriate, religion; both of suspensions and of those expelled.
      I have no doubt that it would illuminate the racism at the heart of the party.
      Anti-Zionist Jews particularly are under attack now; many have been suspended since Starmer was elected.

    3. I agree with everything said so far, labour is in danger of losing members hand over fist. 5 members of my family have stopped their subs so far which leaves just 2 still in although probably not for long.

      I’ve supported labour all my life as my mum made me join or she would throw me out ! My complete family are all either labour members or supporters. I have been a Labour councillor and chief whip of my local party. Other members of my family have also been labour councillors or have stood. What I’m trying to show here is not how good we are at being labour but the kind of people the party is losing. Loyal committed members and supporters that donate money, deliver leaflets and knock on doors.

      We had a superb opportunity in 2017 to get a decent man with good socialist values with excellent backing from a mass movement Of activists, elected to government. We didn’t get that, but not because the Tories has more support, but because the Labour Party THE LABOUR party was campaigning against their own leadership and party. How Dare They ? How Dare They condemn our people to this Tory government which is the most right wing ever ? How dare they condemn the millions of children and families living in poverty without enough to eat relying on food banks to even more savage cuts? The list is endless.

      The. BAME community has every right to demand change, we all have the right to demand change but only together with a strong Labour Party run by decent people that believe in the same as us, will that change ever come. And sadly there is no sign of a strong Labour Party with socialist values ever coming to our rescue.

      Sadly I am now stateless because I hate what this racist and foreigner hating country has become, and now I’m also Partyless due to blairite stupid self serving party officials being better at right wing politics than the real right wing party.

      I fecking despair, sorry for ranting

    4. Whenever I hear anyone banging on about “antisemitism” I think “that person is a racist”. It seems that the whole antisemitism witch hunt is not just about protecting Israel, it is also virtue signaling for racists.

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