Black Lives Matter

JVL stands solidly in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. We are dismayed by Keir Starmer’s disdainful dismissal of the movement during his interview with BBC Breakfast on 2nd July.

He showed a lack of sensitivity to, or any understanding of, the genuine grievances against the police that Black people have clearly articulated and evidenced when he condemned them for talking about ‘defunding the police’.  He also showed a lack of basic knowledge of the demands behind that call to defund the police.  He seemed eager to take the focus away from Britain to concentrate only on American events and even defined the Black Lives Matter movement as a ‘moment’, as though it was only a response to ‘what happened dreadfully in America just a few weeks ago’. He showed that he has failed to understand the nature of systemic inequalities suffered by Black communities in the UK; indeed such a failure that his dismissal of legitimate and longstanding concerns could be warmly welcomed by Nigel Farage, even as it was condemned by Black and Minority Ethnic Labour Party members and supporters.

The leadership of a party committed to equality and diversity should not be dismissing, from a position of privilege, the motives of a movement established to challenge racism and oppression in the US, in the UK and round the world. The Black Lives Matter movement has engaged the idealism and enthusiasm of Black and White people desperate and determined to create a better world. We see this as an exciting and hopeful development.

The Leader of the Labour Party needs to listen, attentively and in humility, to the voices of the oppressed if he is to understand the full implications of the depth and impact of racism.  He needs to address the fact that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities are significantly more likely: to catch and die from COVID-19; to live in poverty; to be unemployed; to suffer from the ‘hostile environment’; and in particular to be disproportionately affected  – or rather targeted – by the criminal justice system.   These facts highlight that racism is deeply embedded in our society and that the system is stacked against Black people. These multiple and connected issues demand serious and committed policy choices, not instant and dismissive sound bites.

We call on the Leader of the Party to withdraw his comments, and pledge to work with Black MPs, party members and other activists in the Black Lives Matter movement to identify meaningful and concrete actions to tackle racism in all walks of life.


Comments (17)

  • Jan Brooker says:

    There is also *proven* race discrimination in the employment field, exemplified by research showing that having an African [or *other* sounding] name meaning that you are less likely to get through the short-listing stage to an actual job interview.

  • Stephen Carlill says:

    I find the contrast between Starmer’s hypersensitivity to the feelings of supposedly mainstream Jews and his crass insensitivity to the feelings of BAME people quite staggering. Perhaps JVL should explain to him that some Jews are BAME.

  • Mary Davies says:

    I’m disgusted with him – so the taking the knee was an act of hypocrisy.

  • shoada patrick says:

    Brilliant TY… Also though, what about the levels of racism exhibited during the ‘Anyone but Corbyn’ movement within the Labour Party

  • Ellie Palmer says:

    Keir Starmer’s glossy media pitch for power was based on his credibility as a high ranking member of the legal profession and as a notable defender of human rights. Sadly, to date he has been found wanting in both.

  • Sabine Ebert-Forbes says:

    Mr Starmer is in my view just doing the talk, but not really the walk. I miss in him the conscious and sincere commitment to become aware and reflect on racism and how it may manifest.

  • Stephen Williams says:

    Starmer will always be remembered for his failure to mount a prosecution of the Met Death Squad which executed Charles de Menezes… execution which was predictably reminiscent of Israeli tactics. Not only the assault itself (how many bullets were fire at him from close range? nine?) but the subsequent cover-up was also familiar.
    This was not his only supine reaction to police violence.

  • Ted Clement-Evans says:

    He is not fit to lead the Labour Party. We need to choose a new leader leader

  • ian duncan kemp says:

    I agree he seems to only deal with one side that his advisors emphasise. He is towards the failed centralist ideology.

  • Richard Purdie says:

    Calling on Starmer to turn away from Blairism mk. 2, or for that matter away from support for Zionist apartheid, is a waste of energy unfortunately.

  • Joern Janssen says:

    Keir Starmer is an embarrassment to the Labour Party

  • Carmen Malaree says:

    When Keir Starmer talked about ‘Black Lives Matter” on the interview by the BBC I couldn’t believe the words were coming out of the leader of the Labour Party. Why is he so afraid of condemning racism and injustice? It’s OK to say that the police needs more funding but at the same time he should have the courage to criticise the handling of some police officers on stop and search. When he said that the protests were “a moment” he sounded very dismissive of the real issues connected to racism. I wonder what David Lammy, a strong defender of black minorities in the UK, thinks about his leader regarding the issue of racism.

  • Bob Walker says:

    It’s really come to something when Sky TV and the Premier League are discussing #BlackLivesMatter more than the leader of the Labour Party.

  • DJ says:

    I agree Bob. Marcus Rashford has done more to expose the Tories than the leader of the party set up to defend the interests of our class. Keir Starmer should be grateful to those who had the moral fibre to take to the streets to fight for justice. He should engage with the to articulate some demands to address this situation rather than stand on the sidelines.

  • Rafi says:

    Our world is becoming more insensitive and polarised.I give up in my belief of ever achieving utopia and will withdraw to my little corner contemplating what might have been!
    The Labour Party of my youth is fragmented and leaderless, the right wing are in the ascendancy and social democratic idealism has been replaced with selfishness, parochialism and nihilism.
    As they say in the classics “ Oy Vay”

  • Sabine Ebert-Forbes says:

    Keir Starmer is part of the privileged few, part of the establishment. I fear he is not part of the solution, but rather part of the problem: in my view he does not get inequality, discrimination and how this amongst other things affects bame communities. But then again in his role as prosecutor he has mainly prosecuted targeted bame people. I was very much shocked and disappointed by his attitude and statement as it showed lack of awareness and empathy.

  • Lucy Knopf says:

    ALL lives matter.
    All those who are victimised and discriminated against “matter”
    All life is valuable

Comments are now closed.