And it is on Islamophobia that the latest focus has fallen, with ITV News reporting that “More than one third of the Labour Party’s Muslim members and supporters have witnessed Islamophobia within the party, according to a new report … The report … surveyed Muslim members and supporters of the party and found that 37% had witnessed Islamophobia within the party and 44% don’t believe the party takes the issue seriously”.
As an example, “Ali Milani stood against the prime minister in Uxbridge and South Ruislip at the last General Election and claims a fellow Labour Party member told him that Muslims could not be MPs because of ‘their propensity to violence’ and asked if he was a terrorist. Mr Milani says he reported the issue to the party to find out almost a year later that the details of his complaint had been lost and no action taken”.
Also, “One anonymous respondent to the survey claimed that at a local party branch meeting they were accused of ‘weaponising’ their religion after asking for a break so they could eat as they had been fasting all day during the month of Ramadan … ‘I have complained to the Labour Party but have not heard back,’ the respondent claimed”.
There was more. "Labour MP Apsana Begum, who was elected to the House of Commons in the last General Election, said she has faced similar issues, adding that the party ‘has been in denial’ about the problem … The parliamentary chair of the Labour Muslim Network, Afzal Khan, the MP for Manchester Gorton, said Islamophobia within the party had gone ‘unnoticed’ and ‘deserved immediate attention’”.
The Guardian has added “A Labour source told the Guardian that there was significant concern within the party over the way that Islamophobia complaints are handled, with no code of conduct for dealing with Islamophobia comparable to that which has been put in place for dealing with antisemitism”, noting ominously that “The findings echo complaints aired earlier this year by members of the party’s own black and minority ethnic staff network that there is a perception of a ‘hierarchy of racism’ within the party, wherein some forms of racism are regarded as more serious than others”.
And that is totally unacceptable. It is little use taking anti-Semitism seriously, while not being too concerned about other forms of racism. So what is the party doing to address the issue? “A statement provided by Labour and attributed to Starmer and his deputy, Angela Rayner, did not address the issues raised with leadership, but said they would work with [Labour Muslim Network] to implement its recommendations”.
Well, given that Labour has shown it can respond, and respond well, to instances of racist behaviour within its ranks, there is no reason why it should not do so again. The best way of showing up the Tories on this issue is not to indulge in deflection, but to confront it, show that the party has put its house in order, and suggest the party of Government do likewise.
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