Tag Archives: minority

After betraying black party members, Starmer begs them not to quit Labour – but he won’t change his ways

Photo opportunity: when Keir Starmer ‘took the knee’ for Black Lives Matter, it seems he thought it was only a gimmick to jolly BAME voters along.

[This is one of three connected articles. This Site is also examining the responses of Boris Johnson and Dr David Starkey to Black Lives Matter; none of them come out smelling of roses.]

Keir Starmer is running scared after people from black and minority ethnic groups gave his credibility a double-hit.

He exposed his own staggering ignorance – as a former Director of Public Prosecutions – in rejecting the Black Lives Matter call for the police to be de-funded.

There is a serious point to it, which is that expansion of police and prison budgets have not improved public safety. Britain has the second largest policing budget per capita in Europe and has some of the most wide-reaching and intrusive public surveillance measures in the world. This includes a police programme that has spied on more than 1,000 organisations. The government announced it was spending £2.5 billion on four new prisons to incarcerate 10,000 people. The total bill for the UK criminal justice system, comprising policing, law courts and prisons in 2018-19 was £28.8 billion – more than we spend on primary education, more than we spend on social care and far more than we spend on social housing or the environment.

Black Lives Matter was saying that this approach has failed – and suggesting that social problems are better addressed through social responses.

But when Starmer spoke to BBC Breakfast News on Tuesday, he said: “Nobody should be saying anything about defunding the police. I was director of public prosecutions for five years. I’ve worked with police forces across England and Wales bringing thousands of people to court, so my support for the police is very strong.”

Worse still, in the same interview, he described Black Lives Matter as a “moment”. He said: “The Black Lives Matter movement, or moment if you like… is about reflecting on what happened dreadfully in America just a few weeks ago [the killing of George Floyd] and showing or acknowledging that as a moment across the world.”

Staggering ignorance.

Black Lives Matter was founded in the US in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of black teenager Trayvon Martin and has campaigned on a number of issues including the de-funding of police to provide cash for social programmes to avoid unnecessary confrontation and heal the racial divide – as Starmer would have known if only he had done a little homework.

It rose to global prominence after the killing of George Floyd, with multiple protests against racism in the UK under its banner – but campaigning about that death is just one aspect of its work – not its reason for existing.

His words show that Starmer considers the moment he “took the knee” in solidarity with Black Lives Matter was nothing more than a photo opportunity – a chance to pretend to show support without actually having to do anything. And when he was asked to back it up, he backed away.

Combine this with the very apparent racism shown by right-wing party factionalists against black female MPs in the leaked Labour report on the party’s response to anti-Semitism complaints and it has become clear to BAME party members that Labour is no longer the place for them.

This has created a huge image problem for Starmer.

From the moment he became Labour leader, he has tried to create the impression that he is strong in opposing racism – particularly with his actions on anti-Semitism*.

Now, with BAME part members leaving, he can see that the facts may soon show that Labour is haemorrhaging members under his leadership. That would create entirely the wrong impression for this image-conscious pretender.

He won’t lose his job because of this – at least, not straight away. But he isn’t as secure in his role as he wants us to think either; it is entirely possible that he may face a leadership challenge if he makes too many more mistakes, so he can’t just ignore the issue.

So he gives us this:

Labour leader Keir Starmer has appealed to Black voters not to leave the party, following backlash over an interview in which he dismissed the Black Lives Matter goal of defunding the police as “nonsense”.

The Labour leader … came under fire on Monday for describing the Black Lives Matter movement as “a moment, if you like”, with many people taking umbrage with the possible implication that the anti-racism moving is fleeting and lacking in significance.

But Starmer told HuffPost UK he meant the opposite.

“I meant ‘moment’ as in ‘a defining moment’, a turning point, and I genuinely think that reflects the sentiment that many, many Black community leaders have expressed to me in recent weeks.

“If there’s one thing that’s come through loud and clear it’s this has got to be a moment, a turning point, a defining point, moment, call it what you like. Because there’s a deep frustration […] that we’ve kind of been here before where people have said there needs to be change and there hasn’t been change.

“In that sense, I was absolutely not pandering to a racist vote. I was trying to recognise the significance of what was happening and express a determination that it should be a turning [point], and to join with those across the Black Lives Matter movement who desperately do want it to be a turning point. And I’m very, very happy to say that over and over again because I think it’s very important.”

He must think BAME people are stupid. No – he must think we’re all stupid if he thinks we’re going to swallow that.

There’s probably a word to describe what he’s trying to do, but if not I’d like to nominate “Johnsoning” – retroactively redefining earlier comments, made in ignorance of the issues involved, with an explanation that doesn’t fit.

It hasn’t worked.

So in a blatant piece of propaganda, we’re being reminded that Labour has 580,000 members – or does it?

That was the number recorded in January and we haven’t had an update since.

And it seems some of us aren’t willing to believe the claim:

All in all – do what he will, Starmer has created his own disaster:

He appears to have made it worse by cooking up this explanation for public consumption, while in private Starmer has been saying something entirely different:

There is enough ambiguity to question whether Starmer had been trying to blow a dog whistle for a certain kind of voter that those of us who support traditional Labour values would find unacceptable:

Some have pointed out the contrast between what Starmer said in April and what he’s having to say now:

Others have pointed out the contrast between the way the media would have handled this if Jeremy Corbyn had said anything as stupid as Starmer:

And some have simply come to the obvious conclusion:

By the way, it isn’t only black people and those from minority ethnic groups who are leaving Labour. Young people are quitting the party too:

How humiliating for the man who presented himself to us as Labour’s Great White Hope, only to be brought low by his failure to understand that Black Lives Matter.

*Anyone with any understanding of the anti-Semitism controversy in the Labour Party knows perfectly well that his actions in that regard have been utterly wrong-headed, but that’s another story.

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Appalling police brutality in the UK, but was it racism – or disablism?

Police brutality: the man under the two police officers had a blue ‘disabled’ badge for his car. He was parked legally on a single yellow line when these two officers demanded he move the car. He refused so they beat him senseless, breaking a finger in the process.

This is not an incident from the demonstrations against police violence against black and minority ethnic people over the last week or so.

It happened last year – in London.

James McAsh explains it perfectly well in his Twitter thread so I’ll hand over to him:

Youness Bentahar, I’m guessing, is not ethnically “White British”. He also had a blue badge for disabled drivers (or those who drive for disabled people). As such, he was entitled to park where he was and the police had no right or reason to ask him to move his vehicle.

But they still beat him senseless, breaking a finger at one point and using handcuffs as knuckledusters to punch him (in the kidneys?) at another.

Should Mr Bentahar have meekly allowed police to arrest him? Mr McAsh argues that it would mean black people who have committed no crimes should allow the police to harass them or commit violence.

But as a disabled man – or somebody driving for a disabled person – he would also have had a responsibility, either to the disabled person for whom he was driving – to carry out the job he’d been asked to do, or to himself – to avoid being taken to a police station where the extra needs of his disability may be ignored (and let’s face it, that’s what the video evidence here suggests).

Who told these police officers they could behave in this manner towards a person from an ethnic minority?

Who said it was all right for them to victimise a person who was disabled – or was acting for a disabled person?

As this happened in London, we may conclude that these were Metropolitan Police officers.

Their commissioner would be Cressida Dick. Perhaps she would like to answer these questions?

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Review of harmful impact of Covid-19 crisis on BAME people delayed twice – because it shows RACISM?

Racism is hard-wired into Conservatives. This poster was from 1964 and attitudes haven’t changed since then.

When the Tories delay a review of the impact of Covid-19 on black and minority ethnic communities because of “worries” around “current global events”, you know the result can’t be good.

Considering “current global events” include escalating riots in the United States over the way the authorities treat black people, you can expect it to be scandalous.

Demonstrations against the attitudes that caused George Floyd’s death have taken place in the UK and it seems logical that the Tory government – already well-known for its racist policies and racist prime minister – would not want to enflame feelings to boiling-point.

But it makes perfect sense for the review to show that BAME people have been disproportionately harmed by Covid-19 – because the Conservative government has prioritised help away from them.

We already know that Tory Covid-19 policies have been disablist and ageist – look at the massacre in our care homes. Harm to BAME people completes their hat-trick.

Look at the language in the Sky News report:

They now say it has been delayed further because it is in “close proximity to the current situation in America” and it would be a “bad combination” if it was released amid global outrage over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

One Whitehall source told Sky News: “The government won’t be able to put this out without concrete and solid next steps.”

To make matters worse, the Department of Health has tried to deny that the killing of George Floyd had anything to do with the delay.

This comes from the organisation that claimed the UK had enough personal protective equipment and ventilators for everyone, and that 100,000 tests were carried out on a day when only 70,000 took place.

We’re left with the obvious question:

Is it better to withhold the review and let us all think government policy has been racist – or to release it and have our suspicions confirmed?

Source: Coronavirus: Review into impact of COVID-19 on BAME community delayed again | UK News | Sky News

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Research shows ethnic minorities more likely to die of the coronavirus in the UK

It should come as no surprise that in a country riven with class division in which ethnic minorities are often among the worst-off…

In a country where the government has been caught pursuing racist policies time and again…

People from ethnic minority groups are more likely to die during the coronavirus pandemic.

Simply put: The system is rigged to ensure it.

The government has been urged to recognise that race and racial inequalities are a risk factor for Covid-19 after Guardian research which has revealed that ethnic minorities in England are dying in disproportionately high numbers compared with white people.

The revelation that people from minority groups appear to be over-represented among the coronavirus deaths, by as much as 27%, “confirmed the worst fears” of campaigners who said there was now no question of an excessive toll.

The Guardian analysis found that of 12,593 patients who died in hospital up to 19 April, 19% were Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) even though these groups make up only 15% of the general population in England.

And the analysis revealed that three London boroughs with high BAME populations – Harrow, Brent and Barnet – were also among the five local authorities with the highest death rates in hospitals and the community.

The findings confirm suspicions raised by local reports, hospitalisation rates and evidence from other countries, that minority groups face the greatest risk.

Source: Ethnic minorities dying of Covid-19 at higher rate, analysis shows | World news | The Guardian

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The UN says austerity has fuelled UK racial inequality. Will the Tories call THIS a lie, too?

Prepare for a new outbreak of outrage against a United Nations rapporteur.

The Tory government likes to pour scorn on UN reports, and I reckon this will be no different.

Note that Tendayi Achiume managed all her research in 11 days. The Tories pilloried Phillip Alston, the poverty rapporteur, for carrying out his own research in less than two weeks, and there’s no reason this would be different.

Of course, it turned out that the facts on which Mr Alston based his findings were accurate and the Tories rubbished his report for political reasons.

Now Ms Achiume is quoting research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission estimating that by 2022 black households will have seen a 5five per cent loss in income because of austerity – double the loss for white households.

Tory spokespeople should have a field day with this.

But the evidence is damning:

The government’s austerity programme has entrenched racial inequality in the UK, a UN expert on racism has concluded in a report that also describes the Windrush scandal as a “glaring example” of discrimination in the UK’s immigration policy.

National debates in the aftermath of the EU referendum “amplified racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the UK” said Tendayi Achiume, the UN’s special rapporteur on racism.

“Public and private actors have played dangerous roles in fuelling intolerance. Among them, politicians and media outlets deserve special attention given the significant influence they command in society,” she said, without naming the politicians or media outlets she had in mind.

Despite the existence of a legal framework devoted to combating racial discrimination, Achiume said race and ethnicity “continue to determine the life chances and wellbeing of people in Britain in ways that are unacceptable and, in many cases, unlawful.”

Achiume, a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, said a hostile environment “ostensibly created for, and formally restricted to, irregular immigrants is in effect a hostile environment for all racial and ethnic communities and individuals in the United Kingdom.”

Source: Austerity has fuelled racial inequality in the UK, says UN expert | Politics | The Guardian

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The Tories are delaying Universal Credit rollout – but they won’t stop its burning injustices


Yes, I used the words “burning injustices” in my headline to remind you that Theresa May said she would end them. Universal Credit is clear evidence that she intends to make them worse.

In a previous article, I explained why the planned changes to alleviate the hardships of the change from the so-called “legacy” benefits to Universal Credit are no good.

The Labour Party has created a video clip showing why Universal Credit – as administrated by the Conservatives – is a force for harm. You need to see it, so here it is:

Get the picture?

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Both Labour and the Tories have offended ethnic minorities. What will this mean for the local elections?

Labour will beat the Conservatives in the local elections on Thursday, retaining most of their seats and taking even more.

Sure, the party offended black and ethnic minority citizens when an all-white panel, on the demands of a white MP, found a black anti-racist campaigner guilty of racism and expelled him.

But the Conservatives have presided over a policy of persecution against black and ethnic minority citizens that has lasted eight years and deported possibly thousands of legitimate British citizens.

Weigh them up and you can see who has done the most harm.

If BAME voters turn on the Tories in large numbers, it will send a deafeningly loud message to the government.

And, providing she is still prime minister by Friday morning, that message can say only one thing to Theresa May:

RESIGN.


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Gwynne seeks to ‘lower expectations’ for Labour in local elections – because of Wadsworth expulsion?

Damage control: Andrew Gwynne.

Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne has tried to reduce expectations of a Labour landslide at the local elections on Thursday, in the wake of a decision to expel a prominent black anti-racist campaign – for racism.

This Site reported that black and ethnic minority representatives had responded with outrage after Labour’s National Constitutional Committee expelled Marc Wadsworth – apparently on the flimsier-than-tissue-paper basis that anti-Semitic intent could be inferred if someone hearing what he said at the launch of the Chakrabarti Report in June 2016 felt that it was.

The Guardian reported:

“Gwynne also sought to lower expectations ahead of the local elections on Thursday. He said: ‘We’re predicting that because these were high watermark years when these seats were last fought in 2014, that it’s probably going to be difficult to get anything like that.

“’We’ve never ever held the City of Westminster, we last held Wandsworth in 1978. If we took those it would be a spectacular night.

“’I am confident that we will have a good night – I don’t think it will be anything like some of the opinion polls would suggest because we are already defending about 80% of the seats in some of those metropolitan boroughs and London boroughs – we’re already at a high watermark.’”

It seems clear that he is trying to manage expectations downward – and This Writer would suggest this is a rather desperate attempt to mitigate the effect of the NCC’s disastrous decision to turn BAME voters against the party.

His words also suggest – as I speculated in my previous article – that there is no mechanism available to the Labour leadership to reverse the NCC’s perverse and unjust decision before Thursday, thereby restoring confidence that the Labour Party still supports fairness and justice.

It won’t be enough. I wonder what the official Labour line will be tomorrow – and why aren’t right-whingers like Ruth Smeeth who prompted this disaster speaking up about what they’ve done? They seemed proud enough on Friday.


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Wadsworth expulsion: Did Labour just throw away its chance to take London?

Jeremy Corbyn: Can he talk his way out of this tight corner?

Labour made a huge mistake on Friday.

After 40 white people escorted another white person to the hearing in what looked like a lynch mob, a panel composed entirely of white people found an innocent anti-racism campaigner – who happened to be black – guilty of a form of racism.

Just on the face of it, that makes Labour look like the racist party.

We are told the verdict on the allegations of anti-Semitism facing Marc Wadsworth went against the evidence.

According to Grassroots Black Left, “The panel … ruled the case against Wadsworth could be proven based on solely on the perception by some people that what he said at the launch of the Charkrabarti report on June 30, 2016 was anti-semitism.”

That would certainly run against the meaning of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism to which Labour has subscribed. That document states that anti-Semitism “may be expressed as hatred towards Jews”; it is not behaviour that may be inferred as offensive by Jews.

In other words, according to the definition which Labour supports, a person’s behaviour should not be deemed anti-Semitic because someone else took offence at it; it would have to be informed by, and motivated by, hatred towards Jews.

And criticism of an individual Jewish person, or a group of them, should not raise accusations of anti-Semitism unless it is informed by hatred towards all Jews. Such criticism may be entirely reasonable, depending on the evidence supporting it.

So the decision against Marc Wadsworth is doubly wrong. And it could jeopardise Labour’s ambitions in the local elections taking place on May 3.

Black and minority ethnic people are infuriated, and you can see why.

As one commenter to This Site put it: “To see Marc Wadsworth shouted down for daring to express an opinion, “How dare you, how absolutely dare you,” like [a] servant being berated by the white mistress of the house, makes me shudder. Do they ever think how much courage it takes for a black person to stand up and speak honestly in a room full of powerful white people?”

And then the Labour Party expects black people to come out and vote it into power in councils across London.

It has been suggested that New Labour expected black and minority ethnic people to vote for the party because they had nowhere else to go. That assumption was wrong; they just stopped voting.

The arrival of Jeremy Corbyn gave them a reason to start voting again – and for Labour.

But the Wadsworth decision suggests that Labour will not support the BAME community; that Labour does not support justice.

In that case, why should the BAME community support Labour?

The party has painted itself into a corner in an attempt to appease liars.

I do not know if there is a mechanism in place that can reverse the damage before Thursday.

If not, I hesitate to speculate on how much harm the NCC panel, Ruth Smeeth, Wes Streeting and the posse of MPs and Lords who supported her at the hearing have done to the people of the United Kingdom.


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Lammy Review lifts the lid on institutionalised racism in the justice system

David Lammy [Image: PA].

Is anybody surprised?

While the justice system remains dominated by white, middle-class people, young people from ethnic minorities will face an uphill struggle for fairness.

The Lammy Review took 18 months to reach its conclusions, and showed that the number of young offenders from black and minority ethnic groups rose from 25 per cent to 41 per cent between 2006 and 2016, despite the overall number of young offenders falling to record lows. Isn’t this an indication of bias?

Meanwhile, evidence shows the rate of black defendants pleading not guilty in Crown Courts in England and Wales between 2006 and 2014 was 41 per cent, compared to 31 per cent of white defendants. This means they lose the possibility of reduced sentences if found guilty, and it raises questions about trust in the system.

The review found that BAME defendants often pleaded “not guilty” and opted for trial in the Crown Court because they had more confidence in the fairness of juries than in the fairness of magistrates’ courts.

Mr Lammy, commenting, said: “The best way to ensure fair, equal treatment is to subject decision-making to scrutiny – helping identify and eliminate bias at source.”

That’s as may be, but even the government’s press release on the review seems disproportionately slanted towards treatment of people who are found guilty of crimes. Isn’t the issue whether guilty verdicts are returned unfairly?

Look at this: “The proportion of BAME young people offending for the first time rose from 11 per cent in 2006 to 19 per cent a decade later. There was an identical increase in the proportion of BAME young people reoffending over the same period.” Because they actually committed crimes, or because of unfairness in the system?

Or try this: “One finding was that for every 100 white women handed custodial sentences at Crown Courts for drug offences, 227 black women were sentenced to custody. For black men, this figure is 141 for every 100 white men.”

Disproportionality in the criminal justice system was said to cost the taxpayer at least £309 million each year.

The review contains 35 recommendations, including introducing assessments of a young offenders’ maturity, exploring how criminal records could be ‘sealed’, and allowing some prosecutions to be ‘deferred’. David Lammy also urges the justice system to take major steps to increase diversity and transparency.

Those are probably good ideas – as long as they reduce what seems an institutionalised belief that people from ethnic minorities are more likely to have committed crimes. Our justice system is supposed to believe people are innocent until proven guilty, after all.

Mr Lammy himself said: “My review clearly shows BAME individuals still face bias – including overt discrimination – in parts of the justice system.

“It is only through delivering fairness, rebuilding trust, and sharing responsibility that we will build the equal and just society so often spoken about.”

It is – but will this review deliver that fairness?


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