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LABOUR is launching a “deeply damaging attack” on the rights of its black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) members by resurrecting the “moribund and discredited” BAME Labour group, campaigners have charged.
Grassroots group Momentum branded proposals passed at a meeting of the party’s national executive committee today a “travesty of justice which would disenfranchise thousands of BAME members and deny their democratic voice” in Labour.
It warned that reviving BAME Labour would betray recommendations – backed at the party’s 2018 annual conference – to replace the body with a democratic BAME wing and a policy-making annual conference for eligible members.
The call followed a review into democracy within Labour, commissioned by then leader Jeremy Corbyn, which heavily criticised BAME Labour — a society which is not a wing of the party, just affiliated to it.
The body “operated as an undemocratic fiefdom, without rules or real democracy, its membership total was unknown and basic functions were not carried out,” said Momentum.
A spokesperson said Sir Keir Starmer’s administration is proposing to “deny BAME members their democratic voice, replacing them with a widely discredited body you have to pay to join, which organises patronising ‘engagement events’.”
Following the much-delayed publication of the Forde Report earlier this year, which condemned a “hierarchy of racism” in Labour that sees Islamophobia and anti-black racism devalued, the party risks “further alienating BAME voters ahead of the next general election,” due by 2024, the group said.
Grassroots Black Left co-founder Marc Wadsworth urged Labour’s BAME members to “organise a conference themselves next year.”
He told the Morning Star that the move is “urgently needed to discuss important representation and policy issues – enough is enough.”
Liverpool Riverside MP Kim Johnson said that despite joining BAME Labour “years ago,” she has received “no information, no invitation to their AGM or any activities and no communication from their committee.
“It’s not fit for purpose and under no circumstances should it be resurrected from the dead.”
Ms Johnson, who is the city’s first black MP, blasted the move as another “kick in the teeth,” adding: “This is a step backwards in the fight against racism and black and Asian members of Labour deserve better.”
The party has been contacted for comment.
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