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Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer speaking at the 2020 Labour Party leadership election hustings in Bristol in February. Photo: Nigel Chadwick / cropped from original / licensed under CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, linked at bottom of article

Starmer isn't fighting racism, he's fighting the left, writes Lucy Nichols

Once again, the issue of antisemitism within the Labour Party has been brought to the forefront of general political discussion, with Jeremy Corbyn – again – being touted as public enemy No. 1 by the mainstream media and right-wingers in the party.

Antisemitism is a toxic form of racism that is still prevalent in Britain, including in political parties. 

However, claims of antisemitism have been used to undermine the Corbyn project from the very start, and are still being used to discredit socialist politicians – the sacking of Rebecca Long Bailey being the most recent example of this.

Back in April, Labour’s review into antisemitism in the party acknowledged that Corbyn’s leadership genuinely tried to get to grips with claims of antisemitism. As well as showing that antisemitism claims had been used against Corbyn, the review also revealed another thing. It highlighted multiple instances of racism faced by many black MPs within the party.

The treatment of Diane Abbott by senior members of the Labour party has been particularly virulent, a notable example being staffers bragging in a Whatsapp group about leaking Abbott’s whereabouts to a Channel 4 journalist – after she had been crying in a public toilet. Even MPs have joined in on the abuse, with Jess Philips mocking Abbott on national television, or telling her to ‘go fuck herself’. In light of this, it was unfortunately unsurprising to hear that in the run up to the 2017 election, Diane Abbott received more abusive tweets than any other MP.

Since this report, there have been a number of high-profile instances that demonstrate the that racism against BAME members is rife. The leadership’s inaction suggests an alarming indifference to anti-black racism. Dawn Butler has been forced out of her constituency office due to racist abuse aimed at her and her staffers. Keir Starmer has largely ignored this, and Dawn Butler has had very little public solidarity from the leadership of the party she has represented in Parliament since 2005.

Starmer has also reduced the Black Lives Matter movement to a ‘moment’ and has refused to condemn the level of racism recently on display by the Metropolitan Police. Rather than demonstrating solidarity with the many thousands who have taken to the streets in protest against the vicious racism that killed George Floyd and Belly Mujinga, Starmer has remained on the side of the establishment.

A theme seems to be emerging from the new Labour leadership. Instead of actually making efforts to tackle cases of antisemitism, the focus is being placed on the actions of a man who is no longer the Labour leader and who represents the kind of politics the new leadership is trying to bury. Meanwhile, the party is making no effort to confront the very prevalent racism faced by some of its most famous and longest-standing MPs.

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