The death of George Floyd

JVL stands in solidarity with African Americans in the United States who are being killed by the police today as they have been over many decades. We connect with their pain and their anger and stand in solidarity with those who are protesting police brutality, and the centuries of racism that are still deeply embedded there.

The UK has no reason to be complacent. Black people have died here too, in police custody or whilst under arrest. And in both countries, racial profiling, and disproportionate levels of incarceration and school exclusion have lasting impacts on BAME communities. Black people in this country too have had enough and we welcome and support the strengthening of the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK.

The high rates of Covid-19 deaths among BAME people also reflect the systemic racism of our societies: their communities are more likely to live in overcrowded housing, to be poor, low paid, in insecure employment. They disproportionately have the health vulnerabilities resulting from these conditions – but they also disproportionately have jobs that mean they work not from home, but in service industries with higher contact with infected people.

This is systematic, indeed institutionalised, racism. The media and our political system should be uniting to expose and fight it. But what concern with racism have we actually seen in the UK in recent years? A media and political concentration on – a virtual obsession with – antisemitism, as if this were the systemic, structural racism in our society. Where are the headlines about the rise of racism against Black and Asian communities, about an Islamophobia which goes largely unchecked? The continuing Windrush and hostile environment scandals are an afront to civilised values.

We want the Labour Party to be in the forefront of the fightback against racism – all racism – in our society. We are concerned that some Black members are leaving the Party; a precipitating factor being the failure to suspend officials, including leading senior officials, at the headquarters of the Party for the racism and other misconduct exposed by the leaked report. The contrast with the importance placed on responding to allegations of antisemitism is stark. The failure to take Islamophobia seriously adds yet another dimension.

We call on the Labour leadership to support the statement made by the Campaign Group of MPs (see below); to express its solidarity with all who have suffered and continue to suffer from the ongoing and deep-rooted structural racism in Britain’s hostile environment; and also to take a long hard look at the systemic changes that are needed in this country. It would do well by starting to look at the BAME communities’ increasing disillusionment with the Labour Party itself.


Appendix: Socialist Campaign Group statement


Comments (13)

  • Jessica Leschnikoff says:

    It is disgraceful that only 22 brave and principled MPs have put their names to a public statement like this.

    Shows EXACTLY where the Labour Party stands on racism. Truly pathetic.

  • Charlotte Williams says:

    I commend JVL for stating its (our) support for Black and Asian communities in the terms that it has done in this statement.

  • JanP says:

    Thank you JVL and the Socialist Campaign Group. I have confidence that these statements are backed up by firm, unchanging principles about anti racism and equality – unlike other groups and individuals who will mouth sentiments for any occasion.

  • David Townsend says:

    Like Jessica Leschnikoff, I am dismayed to see only 22 signatures on the statement from the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs.

    Whilst I note that the statement comes from a particular grouping of Labour MPs and not from The Labour Party itself, I am surprised that it seems there are only 22 Labour MPs who are prepared to campaign for the values of democratic socialism.

    That such a campaign exists within Labour says a great deal about the values of the modern Labour Party and just how far it has moved from its roots in democratic socialism.

  • Helen Richards says:

    I too commend and thank the JVL for this statement. So few signatories from our own party speaks volumes.

  • Ellie Palmer says:

    Compare the equivocation by Lisa Nandy shadow foreign sec in interview on BBC morning news Thursday 4 June

  • RC says:

    So these ‘anti-imperialists’ who are so opposed to subjugation and dispossession world-wide, have nothing to say about the more recent murder of Iyad al Halaq by the Israeli Border police in Jerusalem? What have they to say to our ‘sister party’, the Israeli Labour Party, which organised the nakba dispossessing and expelling at least 750,000 Palestinians (900,000 according to General Eisenhower) at the inauguration of the Israeli state? Are they boldly going to claim that this was not a racist endeavour? that it was not racist? or that their sister party is so deeply racist that it calls for no endeavour on their part to commit such murderous acts? According to article 5 of the BoD’s pledges, anyone who associates, even briefly, with racists should automatically be expelled; thus anyone who maintains an institutional and fraternal link with such racists should incur still greater penalties. Why does this not apply to the so-called Jewish Labour Movement?

  • Holly Burton says:

    RC what about the expulsion of Iraqi Jews ?
    It doesn’t take long to accuse Israel of all the ills in this world by people like RC

  • RC says:

    Poor Holly Burton, who tries to justify Israel’s founding nakba atrocity which basically started in 1947-8 and still continues, by the fate of Iraqi Jews in 1950-1! ANY use of ‘what aboutery’ has long since been exposed as the sort of dead cat tactic resorted to by bankrupt irrelevance-mongers. Even ‘tu quoque’ is a paradigm of logic by comparison.
    When and where have I accused Israel of all or most of the ills of the world, or even of the Middle East? Please answer with precise references.
    As it so happens, since she adduces the fate of Iraqi Jews, it is proper to ask her how she refutes the account of Naim Giladi, himself an Arab Jew from Iraq, which gives us strong reason to believe that Zionist as well as British agents were complicit in the provocation and incitement which led to the flight of Arab Jews like himself – only to be drenched in DDT powder on their arrival in Israel and (if they applied ) dismissed into a ‘bantustan’ section of Mapam – a fate similar to the oppression visited on them and other Mizrahi immigrants -a humiliation which drove Mizrahis to take their distance from the Israeli Labour establishments to Herut and beyond and to trample on Palestinians – a common pattern for the communalist oppressed.
    The Lavon provocations in Egypt of the early 1950s shows that Giladi’s account is supported by other incitements of antisemitism by Zionist agents – decorated by Israel in 2005. And the torrent of fiction about the LP ‘having a problem with Jews/antisemitism’, deceiving it seems some 87% of British Jews, is a similar example of Zionist propaganda engaging in terrorising the diaspora – as they hoped – towards aliyah. The torrent of fiction is currently being intensified within the LP, as witness the slanders against the Wavertree Four and others. Herut supporters here are agitating in favour of the proposed annexation of most of the West Bank – all part of the NATO-wide campaign against the Palestinians.

  • Hazel Seidel says:

    I am simply amazed that you cannot simply write a whole-hearted support of the Black Community and stand with them in their action against racism, without simultaneously taking a side-swipe at those who have stood up against antisemitism. All racisms must be dealt with and this is not a competition.
    Where the Labour Party is concerned, while the leaked report did reveal appalling racist comments by some staff, it gave no grounds at all for your accusation that complaints about other forms of racism have been ignored in favour of complaints about antisemitism. There is certainly much that the Labour party needs to do to build confidence among and representation of (non-Jewish) BAME members. Labour needs to be very firm about eliminating all forms of racism, and this does not exclude antisemitism. Again, it is not a competition, and you should be ashamed of setting up minorities against each other when they wish to stand together in solidarity.

  • RC says:

    We would be foolish indeed to rely upon the leaked report for a full picture of events at Southside, let alone of the LP as a whole or its policies and their impact – as Hazel Seidel seems to do. Both sides referred to in that report, together with its authors and indeed Ms Seidel, assume without evidence that actions or expressions of antisemitism are widespread throughout the LP, and/or that British Jews as a whole are victims of persecution and/or structural inequality.
    Perhaps Ms Seidel could deign to supply some evidence for this belief of hers.
    I trust she will not rely upon the IHRA ‘definition’ of antisemitism, which is with its centrality of the Israeli state including all its policies, is itself an expression of one of the most vicious forms of racism – the dispossession, exile, plundering and murder of Palestinians in their hundreds of thousands. This form of racism is prevalent in the upper echelons of the LP. Yet she seems quite unconcerned with it, bleating that ‘it is not a competition’. This bleat is an abnegation of the correct doctrine that ‘the religion of socialism is the language of priorities’.
    Which brings us to the ‘hostile environment’ imposed, especially but not only, on the Windrush generation, and still not opposed by, the bulk of the LP. But what environment could be more hostile than that imposed on the Palestinians, such as Dyad al Haq, an autistic young man murdered in cold blood in Jerusalem by the Israeli border police?
    Ms Seidel has a great deal of thinking and research to do, which I am sure she will bring back to these columns.

  • Susan Ritchie says:

    RC is so biased against Israel and his prose so quaint that I cannot take him seriously.
    He needs some history lessons and become objective.
    Poor RC the typical arm chair and pop academic sitting so high on his horse of dogma and manipulative sophistry !!!!

  • RC says:

    Please try to educate me and the rest of JVL, Ms Ritchie, in the virtues of apartheid , ethnic cleansing, and the systematic murder of unarmed demonstrators…Your history lessons will be read with interest and attention.

Comments are now closed.