Labour urged to tackle Islamophobia within party by new report

Sienna Rodgers

The Labour Party has been urged to tackle Islamophobia within its own ranks following a new report put together and released by the Labour Muslim Network to mark Islamophobia Awareness Month in November.

The largest ever consultation of Muslim members and supporters of Labour has 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.

The results also show that 46% of Muslim members and supporters surveyed disagreed with the statement “I believe the Labour Party represents the Muslim community effectively”, compared to 29% who agreed with the view.

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% revealed that they did not trust the leadership to tackle Islamophobia effectively.

Similarly, more than half of those who participated in the survey – 56% – told the Labour Muslim Network they did not feel that “the shadow cabinet team” put together by Keir Starmer “represents the Muslim community effectively”.

Commenting on the “deeply concerning” report, the Labour Muslim Network said the results were “a stark reminder” that the party “must tackle the issue of Islamophobia in our midst and in wider society with serious commitment and action”.

The group added: “There can be no doubt that now is the right time for comprehensive action on the issue of racism experienced by Muslim members and supporters of the Labour Party, including by taking immediate steps to begin implementing the recommendations of the report.

“We are confident that we can work with the Labour Party and all key stakeholders to move forward in rooting out Islamophobia from our party and society as a whole.”

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.”

The Labour MP for Manchester Gorton and shadow deputy leader of the House of Commons has since noted that he is “pleased” Starmer has committed to implement all recommendations made in the report, which include the following:

  • 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

In response to the report, a spokesperson for the Labour Party said: “We thank Labour Muslim Network for this important report, as well as their work to ensure our Muslim members are represented, included and heard.

“Islamophobia has no place in our party or society and we are committed to rooting it out. We look forward to working with LMN to implement their recommendations and will be meeting with them to discuss the next steps in tackling the scourge of Islamophobia.”

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