11/06/2020 07:59 BST | Updated 11/06/2020 08:38 BST

Keir Starmer Pledges New Labour Party Race Equality Plan As Injustice Is Still 'Rife'

It comes 33 years after Bernie Grant, Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng were elected as the party’s first black MPs.

The Labour Party has unveiled a new race equality strategy on the anniversary of the election of its first black MPs.

Keir Starmer has warned that Covid-19 and worldwide events show that “racism, discrimination and injustice are all still rife in our society”.

It comes 33 years to the day after Bernie Grant, Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng become members of parliament.

In a video message on Thursday, the party leader announced a set of new measures to improve diversity within the Labour Party and tackle anti-Black racism.

They include building on Labour’s Bernie Grant Leadership Programme to increase representation across all our elected representatives.

It will also introduce an immediate audit into the diversity of its staff, including the representation of Black Asian and minority ethnic worker, which will be followed by an action plan and targets.

The party says it is also to establish a training module on racism and unconscious bias and will tackle any anti-Black racism within the party.

Earlier this month, HuffPost UK published an exclusive two-part report into allegations that Labour has been slow to deal with anti-Black racism and to support its Black members.

Labour’s perceived silence on alleged instances of anti-Black racism has cost the party the support of dozens of Black members.

But for others, dissatisfaction has been growing over years rather than weeks, and stems from what is seen as a lack of representation at the top tables – and of solidarity with the senior Black politicians the party does have.

Following allegations from the leaked report, the party set up an independent investigation chaired by Martin Forde QC.

PA Images via Getty Images
On their feet, MPs Bernie Grant and Diane Abbott, watched by MP Paul Boateng (far left), at the Labour Party annual conference in Blackpool. 

In the message, Starmer said: “Today marks the day Bernie Grant, Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng were first elected to Parliament. It was a historic moment and we must recognise the achievement of these great pioneers.

“In 33 years progress has been made. But this year the anniversary comes as worldwide events have exposed the fact that racism discrimination and social injustice are all rife in our society.

“The reality of anti-Black racism, the impact of Covid-19 particularly on Black and Asian communities, and society’s inbuilt racial inequalities have shown that we’ve still got a long way to go.

“When I became leader of our party I said my first job was to rebuild trust and confidence in the Labour Party. I want black members to be able to put their trust in me.

“Now more than ever it’s incumbent upon political leaders to face up to and address the injustices that still exist in our society. Now is the time for action.”

He also said: “These are initial steps and over the coming months we will continue to develop meaningful and substantial change. I am under no illusion about the scale of the challenge.

“We need overall systematic change within society and our party. As leader I am dedicated to doing whatever it takes.”