The report also found that so many elected officials were constantly undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. It found that some Labour MPs were responsible for the loss of the 2017 and 2019 general elections.
Today I learned that we Muslims are truly alone: we are treated with impunity, we are trivialised, and we are not accepted in politics.
A Labour party report has just been internally leaked, and it found Islamophobia and inaction among party HQ senior ranks. Yet again, Islamophobia has made its way into another party.
The report found:
- Wes Streeting (Labour MP, Ilford North) and Mike Gapes (former Labour MP, Ilford South) helped to get a member suspended from the party for complaining about receiving Islamophobic abuse from a right-wing councillor in Ilford. Their alleged roles in the mishandling of complaints regarding Islamophobia in the Labour Party is extremely concerning. Muslim communities deserve immediate answers. Worryingly, Wes Streeting is chair of the APPG on British Muslims, which helped come up with the definition on Islamophobia.
- Former senior Labour staff were shown to have supported anti-Islam views and to have discussed delaying investigations into Islamophobia within the party.
- In 2017, James McBride (then Labour’s policy unit aid) said that “even so-called moderate Islam” has “hard questions” to face about terrorism. In addition, on a WhatsApp chat with colleagues, Mr McBride said that he found it “difficult to disagree” with Mr Murray’s (right-wing commentator) claim that parties were refusing to admit that terrorism “comes from” Islam.
- Emails also showed staff saying that they might “sit on” an investigation into Islamophobia within the party due to the subject’s allegiance to certain Labour officials.
The report also found that so many elected officials were constantly undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. It found that some Labour MPs were responsible for the loss of the 2017 and 2019 general election. Recently, Jeremey Corbyn’s wife, Laura Alvarez, broke her silence about the abuse she’s received:
It has been incredibly hard for me to watch my husband vilified and to hear his words twisted by his political opponents and some in the media”.
There are no words to express how absolutely sickening it is that senior Labour staffers actively worked to prevent a Labour victory in 2017. It’s stomach-churning. Keir Starmer must take action to deal with this.
Personally, as a Labour Party member, I was really ashamed and disgusted about the levels of discrimination and prejudice within our party. Above all else, I believe there needs to be a public and sincere apology to Jeremey Corbyn and a public apology to members who were victims of discrimination.
Jawad Khan, Labour’s Former EU Parliament candidate, said on Twitter:
Reading more of this report and honestly the conduct of some people is disgusting. Islamophobia, gerrymandering internal elections, trying to bail out suspended MP’s, wanting the party to lose seats. These people are a disgrace to the movement and I dunno how they sleep at night.
— Jawad Khan (@jawadkhan1998) April 12, 2020
I could not agree with him more – I am an active Labour Party member and the youth officer for my local party. I joined the Labour Party in 2019 (aged 14) because I believed people in this country deserve better than to be blamed for economic failings. It is heart-breaking to know how many people will continue to suffer thanks to those who undermined Labour from within.
Elsewhere on Twitter, @BasitMahmood91 made this point:
Keir Starmer has never personally tweeted the word Islamophobia. Given evidence of Islamophobia in the Labour Party emerging, including members being suspended for raising concerns, now would be the perfect time to call this bigotry out for what it is.
— Basit Mahmood (@BasitMahmood91) April 13, 2020
Hopefully, in the upcoming days, Keir Starmer will reassure the Muslim community that their concerns will be fully addressed.
A history of British politics and Islamophobia
The support for the Labour party among BAME communities is the highest among any parties. For decades, the Labour Party has seen the vote of BAME communities as its God-given right. Now when evidence of racism, including Islamophobia, in the Party emerges, you’re shocked that they aren’t taking it seriously.
I asked my self a serious question; Why are the people, who have spent these years (legitimately) complaining about anti-Semitism within the Labour party, now silent on Islamophobia and anti-blackness? Let me elucidate: All prejudice is bad.
If we don’t act now, we will fail the BAME and Muslim community and we will NEVER have a Labour Government.
Thankfully, Labour Muslim Network has written to Kier Starmer requesting immediate action:
Labour Muslim Network is extremely concerned about the recent #LabourReport.
It is completely unacceptable to see incidents of Islamophobia treated this way in our party.
— Labour Muslim Network (@LabourMuslims) April 14, 2020
Unfortunately, however, the Labour Party is not the only party to have concerns raised over Islamophobia: The Conservative party has the biggest record of Islamophobia within their party.
- The survey, by anti-racism campaigners Hope Not Hate, also found that nearly two-thirds of Tory activists believe the religion is “a threat to western civilisation”.
- According to the poll, 54% of the Tory rank-and-file believe that Islam is “generally a threat to the British way of life”.
- Some 60% think that “Islam is generally a threat to Western civilisation”, with fewer than one-in-five (17%) taking the opposite view.
To add to this:
- Boris Johnson compared Muslim Women to “letterboxes” and “bank-robbers”. This directly contributed to racism as Islamophobic incidents rose by 375%.
- Michael Fabricant posted a cartoon showing London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s head on an inflatable balloon engaged in a sex act with a pig.
- Baroness Warsi stated: “It [Islamophobia] is very widespread (in the Conservative Party), it exists from the grass-roots all the way to the top.”
Andrew Pierce (political commentator and Conservative party member) said on Twitter:
If families gather for holy month of Ramadan will there be a huge spike in Covid cases. Doctors are very worried
— Andrew Pierce (@toryboypierce) April 12, 2020
Muslims are following social distancing rules and mosques are closed. Andrew Pierce pushed an opinion, without any evidence or basis, claiming that Muslims could do something bad – but when evidence shows Muslim doctors laying down their lives for the country they love, they say nothing.
However, I was pleased to know that despite the grim circumstances, last month Trevor Phillips was suspended from the Labour party over Islamophobia allegations.
Finally, it is also important to note that there have also been reports of Islamophobia within the Green party. Green party members have been accused of being religiously insensitive and discriminative due to their passionate desire to ban halal meat. The Green Party’s co-leader Jonathon Barton called for a “Ban on halal meat in the UK” on national television.
The future for British Muslims
Wherever we look, whether it is in the world or in politics, we are clear on one thing: Islamophobia is the biggest problem we face and we are drowning in it.
In the future, I wanted to be a politician, but due to the amount of racism in society and in politics, I don’t think I will ever become one. But this equally gives me the determination to fight, fight to make Muslims heard and matter.
Finally, British Muslims deserve a better choice than a governing party that says it has a zero-tolerance approach to Islamophobia, only to let offenders return, and an opposition Labour party that not only refuses to take action on Islamophobia in its own ranks, but suspends complainants. We must demand change.