Labour leader Keir Starmer, deputy leader Angela Rayner and general secretary David Evans have issued a statement promising to take steps to tackle Islamophobia after meeting with the Labour Muslim Network today.
The party was urged to tackle Islamophobia within its own ranks when a new report was put together and released two weeks ago by the Labour Muslim Network to mark Islamophobia Awareness Month in November.
The largest ever consultation of Muslim members and supporters of Labour found that more than one in four – 29% – have directly experienced Islamophobia in the party, while over one in three have directly witnessed it.
44% of those consulted reported that they did not believe the party takes the issue of Islamophobia seriously, and 48% said they did not have confidence in Labour to deal with Islamophobia effectively via its complaints process.
A majority of 59% of Muslim members and supporters consulted said they did not feel “well represented by the leadership of the Labour Party”, while 55% said they did not trust the leadership to tackle Islamophobia effectively.
Afzal Khan, who became the LMN’s new parliamentary chair this year, said: “Whilst the Labour Party has enjoyed the overwhelming support of the Muslim community for decades, we cannot take their support for granted.”
Starmer had been criticised by some Labour members for not tweeting about the LMN report since it was released two weeks ago, but the leader has now confronted the concerns raised after meeting with the organisation.
The joint statement issued this afternoon reads: “We take Islamophobia seriously and are utterly committed to eradicating it – both in our party and society. We thank Labour Muslim Network for their recent report, as well as their work to ensure our Muslim members are represented, included and heard.
“We have met with LMN today to follow up on their report into Islamophobia within our party. We are committed to taking swift and appropriate action to address Islamophobia and to ensure that it has no place in our party.
“We have agreed to prepare a plan of action to take forward LMN’s initial recommendations. We look forward to continuing our partnership with LMN to implement their recommendations and will be meeting with them regularly to discuss the next steps in tackling the scourge of Islamophobia.”
The key recommendations of the LMN report were as follows:
- A “public commitment” from the leadership to equality for Muslims
- Developing “comprehensive” Islamophobia training with LMN, the Muslim Council of Britain and other Muslim organisations
- Conducting an equality impact assessment on all policies adopted by the party
- Adopting the all-party parliamentary group definition of Islamophobia by all Labour-run councils, groups and local parties
- Establishing a code of conduct around Islamophobia setting out specific “behaviours, policies and cultures” that can be Islamophobic
- Publishing a handbook to educate members on Islamophobia including a list of commonly used tropes
- Implementing a new “transparent and impartial” complaints process