Labour set to address Islamophobia, anti-Black racism and BAME structure

Sienna Rodgers

Labour is set to address Islamophobia and anti-Black racism by introducing new codes of conduct and bringing in new training courses, while also making progress on the establishment of a new BAME structure.

At a meeting of the national executive committee (NEC) today, it was agreed by members of the ruling body that the party should make new efforts to address Islamophobia and anti-Black racism within the party.

The new codes of conduct will build on existing definitions – such as the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) definition of Islamophobia, which Labour adopted in 2019 – to ensure a consistent approach to complaints.

LabourList understands that the codes will be developed in consultation with internal and external groups, including the Runnymede Trust, The Diversity Trust, Labour Muslim Network and BAME staff network.

Labour also plans to develop new training courses on Islamophobia and anti-Black racism for elected representatives and staff, particularly party employees who have responsibilities in the internal disciplinary process.

“Labour is committed to tackling Islamophobia and anti-Black racism in our party and wider society and we were proud to adopt the APPG definition in 2019, something the Conservatives continue to refuse to do.

“The new codes and training courses will be designed and developed in a way that ensures they have the trust and confidence of Muslim and Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities,” a Labour spokesperson said.

LabourList understands that the codes and training are related but separate measures, not expected to be rolled out alongside each other, and that Labour plans to develop similar codes on other protected characteristics.

Labour’s NEC agreed at the same meeting today to make progress on representation with the establishment of a new structure for Black, Asian and ethnic minority members that will include an annual conference.

There are plans for the new party-wide organisation, of which BAME Labour members will automatically be members, to be supported by a national committee to ensure it is effectively administered and organised.

The aim is for the structure to guarantee effective participation, representation and voice to those who experience racism, while the BAME members committee will will be democratically elected representing all levels of the party.

The committee is expected to see the parliamentary party, local parties and trade unions specifically represented, and be underpinned by BAME committees and branches in each of the English regions, Wales and Scotland.

LabourList understands that the procedures and arrangements of the BAME conference will mirror those of Labour’s annual and women’s conferences, and include action to ensure LGBT+, disabled or young members can attend.

The conference will have delegates and be gender-balanced, sources say, and it will be entitled to send up to two policy motions to the subsequent annual conference, which will be automatically be timetabled for debate.

Marsha de Cordova said: “We are strengthening the role for our Black, Asian and ethnic minority members and trade unionists so that their voices and views are a more integral part of Labour’s decision-making and democracy.

The women and equalities lead added: “At a time when the Conservatives are trying to reheat Thatcherism and turn the clock back on equality, it is so important for Labour to fully represent our communities in all their diversity.”

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