Labour Unveils Plans To Boost Black Representation In Wake Of Forde Report

The party hopes a series of structural changes will repair the relationship with Black members after the report found racist attitudes to some MPs.
Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy speak at a climate change protest.
Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy speak at a climate change protest.
Mike Kemp via Getty Images

Labour is unveiling plans to boost Black members’ participation in the party following a series of rows, HuffPost UK understands.

The party’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), has been asked to approve plans to promote greater inclusion for Black members and potential candidates standing at the next election.

The drive comes following a report in The Guardian in which Labour leader Keir Starmer was accused of “sidelining” black leftwing MPs from an event aimed at regaining the trust of Black members in the aftermath of the Forde report.

As well as finding that both the left and right used the issue of anti-Semitism as a “factional weapon”, Forde also uncovered that some party officials used a number of insults to describe senior Black MPs including Diane Abbott, Clive Lewis, and Dawn Butler.

Abbott, the shadow home secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, claimed a number of Black MPs had not been invited to the event, telling the newspaper: “How can you have an event about black issues and not invite Black MPs?

“It’s quite factional but it’s also not acceptable to marginalise Black MPs in this way.

“This was a PR exercise rather than a genuine attempt from the party to find out the concerns of Black members.”

In response, Labour sources denied that Black MPs were not invited.

Under its proposals, the party will help its affiliated group, BAME Labour, to hold new leadership elections in the spring, as is the case with the Jewish Labour Movement, LGBT+ Labour and the Labour Women’s Network.

The party has also acknowledged that there is a problem with the selection of prospective parliamentary candidates, with no Black men chosen to stand for the party so far.

It is understood the party will now target its Bernie Grant leadership programme for aspiring candidates at Black party members only, in a bid to address the problem.

There will also be a drive to update the equalities data for BAME and disabled members, while separate conferences for those members will be held after the next election, to allow the proposals to take effect.

Starmer commissioned the Forde report, by Martin Forde KC, following the leak of an internal dossier into how the party handled accusations of anti-Semitism under his predecessor.

Forde also concluded that MPs of colour and female MPs were “not always treated during the relevant period in the same way as their white/male counterparts — not just in terms of the abuse they received, but in terms of the level of instinctive respect they were afforded within the party and within parliament”.

The report’s findings has caused disquiet in the party. Kate Osamor, who served as a shadow minister under Corbyn, recently warned that Labour risked creating a “hostile environment” for BAME people in the party if it failed to address the issues brought to light by Forde.

In response to the Forde report’s findings, the Labour Party apologised for the “culture and attitudes expressed by senior staff in the leaked report” and said going forward, any “racist and discriminatory attitudes will be tackled immediately, wherever they arise, in whatever section of the party”.


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