UK: Labour right targeting women of colour for deselection – even when not on left

bySKWAWKBOX (SW)

Anti-black and anti-Muslim racism continues rampant among party right

Clockwise from top left: Taiwo Owatemi, Zarah Sultana, Diane Abbott, Apsana Begum

The Labour right regime is targeting black and Asian women MPs disproportionately for deselection, according to new reports. While the right has set its sights on a couple of white male MPs on the left of the party, at least four women of colour are on the hit-list – hugely disproportionate to their representation in the party. Two are Muslims, again disproportionate.

Labour’s first black woman MP, Diane Abbott, has faced pressure to step down while Apsana Begum, the victim of a concocted political attempt by the right to oust her via imprisonment that fell apart in court, Zarah Sultana and Taiwo Owatemi are all the focus of plans to deselect them, despite Owatemi not being considered particularly on the left of the party.

The Labour right has long – and rightly – been criticised for rampant anti-Muslim and anti-black racism. The Labour Muslim Network’s explosive report last year revealed all manner of abuse and discrimination – and Keir Starmer and his sidekick David Evans promised to implement its recommendations in full, but appear to have done nothing and none of the perpetrators have been removed. Some have been promoted. Events since then, such as the blatant Islamophobia of Labour’s Batley and Spen campaign, have only deepened the stain.

Likewise, the Labour Black Socialists group were forced to announce a ‘campaign strike’ because of the lack of solidarity – and black MPs, again often women, were targeted for demotion as soon as the new regime took over the party.

A leaked Labour report last year revealed disgraceful comments among staff about black MPs and colleagues, yet while the Forde report on the content of the leaked document is still being withheld by the party, Starmer’s Labour spent a six-figure sum trying to track down those who leaked it – and was willing to throw several former staff under the bus in a legal case even though it has said that it can’t say for sure who was responsible for the leak.

Former Corbyn speechwriter Alex Nunns has rightly pointed out that the bland reporting of the targeting of the left for deselection exposes the whipped-up histrionics of the Labour right’s whining about deselections during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. This is even more true when some of those now being targeted are among the most hard-working and effective MPs on behalf of their constituents.

But the right’s focus on women of colour is even more sinister. Twitter activist account ToryFibs has warned that Labour’s discriminatory targeting of women of colour should be treated as a matter of grave concern – and that the targeting is ‘systematic’:

Appallingly, no one at Labour HQ is likely to listen, let alone care.

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