Starmer ignoring concerns of Black and Asian communities, members warn

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Sir Keir Starmer has been accused of ignoring the concerns of black, Asian and ethnic minority Labor members after failing to address key issues at a party event.

Ahead of the BAME members’ conference last weekend, a group of black and Asian members wrote to the party leader to raise questions about the lack of representation in the party leadership and measures to increase diversity.

“Many BAME members do not feel that we have been listened to or supported enough in the party in recent years,” the letter, seen by the independent, said.

But a number of members who attended Saturday’s conference said Sir Keir ‘just spoke and left’ after delivering his speech, answering no questions and failing to respond to the letter or issues raised.

Jermain Jackman, President of the 1987 Caucuses

which represents young black men in Labour, said the party risked drifting black voters.

“What’s the party to-do list?” If the Labor Party is unaware of the changes within the black community, as well as the changes the Conservatives are making within the black community in terms of engagement, then they can forget about this electoral bloc. No one is going to knock on doors for them,” Mr Jackman said. The Independent.

Jermain Jackman is 1987 Caucus Chairman

(Charlie Forgham-Bailey)

“As a black man, I don’t feel empowered to be part of this party. I’m 100% for Labor history and my politics align with it, but I’m not happy with the current state of affairs. I have heard disturbing comments from very experienced black members within the movement about their sense of helplessness and indifference; it made me less optimistic about the future of this party.

The letter, which was not acknowledged by Labor leaders, said that of the 50 senior staff working for Labor at national and regional level, only two are of black or minority ethnic origin. He asked: “What are you doing to address this BAME senior leadership deficit? Aren’t members of black and ethnic minorities good enough to work for the party? »

Members also highlighted the Bernie Grant leadership program, which was announced in 2018 to address underrepresentation. However, only one group went through the program. The letter also pointed to a delay in responding to the recommendations of the Forde report, which warned against racism within the party.

When approached by The IndependentLabor did not respond to concerns raised in the letter, but said the conference had been “a positive and brilliantly attended online event for members”.

It comes after former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, the first black woman elected to parliament, accused Labor of ousting black politicians to the left of the party after it emerged she was part of a number of black MPs who had not been invited to the BAME conference.

‘To add insult to injury, when it came up with the Labor Party they first said we mention,’ Ms Abbott said. The Independent. “It is all the more worrying when you remember that black people have for generations been one of Labour’s most loyal electoral blocs.”

‘Labour’s attitude to black, Asian and minority ethnic issues is disappointing,’ the Hackney MP said, adding there has never been an apology for the abuses. by senior party officials, who still work for the Labor Party after calling her ‘hideous’ and ‘really disgusting’ in WhatsApp messages, as revealed in the Forde report.

Then-Labour leader Neil Kinnock with the first four black and Asian Labor MPs to be elected, (left to right) Bernie Grant, Paul Boateng, Keith Vaz and Diane Abbott, in November 1987

(Getty Images)

Some black MPs only received details of the event, following exclusion complaints, after it had already begun. A party member said The Independent. “We can’t say we’re trying to solve the problems if we don’t include everyone affected.”

“The webinar nature of the event didn’t really give a lot of opportunity to participate or really explore the issues,” said Maurice McLeod, a Labor member who attended the BAME conference. The Independent.

“There were good speakers who raised some of the issues that many black members are concerned about, such as the Forde report, the treatment of black MPs and biased selection processes.

“However, the organization of the event rings in the distance. Black MPs were ignored and there was no chance to really participate or debate.

It is understood that Sir Keir has spoken of the declining standard of living under the Conservative Party disproportionately affecting ethnic communities and reiterated his promise that his Labor Government will introduce a landmark new Race Equality Act, implement all Lammy Review recommendations and create a curriculum. that reflects the diversity of our country’s history and society.

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