Friday, 29 June 2018
These are exciting times to be back in the much new and improved Labour Party.
The current debate surrounding reshaping the party and including internal constitutional reform, all initiated and by Jeremy Corbyn, is an absolutely critical component to rebalancing democratic accountability in the party and more broadly speaks to the important project of the restoration of public trust and confidence in democratic processes and public accountabilities.
We need to be a 21st-century, inclusive and progressive party, with in a fast-moving political environment. In an era of fake news and propaganda, we are faced with a deeply, dysfunctional, political culture that poses unprecedented challenges to the principles and ethics of truth, fairness, equality and justice.
Talking of the 21st-century, we will be using #LeedsBlackLabour to communicate with conference delegates and the wider community.
Our organisation, Momentum Black Caucus, (MBC) has followed this debate and agreed that urgent reform is overdue, if we are to capitalise on the recent surge in Labour party membership, it is vital that we become a political movement fit for purpose in the 21st-century.
I’ve written before on the lamentable performance of BAME Labour in recent times, regrettably they have become entirely redundant and irrelevant to the wider campaign for Black civil rights, equality and justice. They’ve led no campaigns, they’ve made no public announcements of any significance, and their elected or selected leaders are unknown, as is their political agenda, if such a thing exists.
In short, they have no mandate from Britain’s black and any minority Labour Party members. In looking at this how of an organisation descended into irrelevance, one is struck at how useless and silent on all of the major issues of the day, BAME Labour has been. Hide bound by archaic rules and procedures, their bureaucracy simply expanded to meet the needs of their ever-expanding bureaucracy. All designed to exclusively entrench power in the hands of a minority, used largely as a boost to their own political careers at the expense of advancing the cause of black communities fight for justice and equality.
This analysis is confirmed by a recent survey of almost 1000 black Labour members conducted by Momentum. The results were devastating and can be read here. The opportunity therefore, for a comprehensive democratic review of BAME Labour Party internal processes, was long overdue.
As we meet in Leeds, there can be no excuses, the current leadership, has fundamentally failed in its duty to provide a dynamic and vibrant membership, a policy platform that can give voice to millions of British black people in the who are facing entrenched racism, amplified under austerity.
This is the real sin, the real crime, the acute political failure of these leaders, in the face of the most sustained resurgence of white supremacy, racism and race inequality, religious bigotry and discrimination, we’ve ever seen, in British post-war history.
So the opportunity to have a debate about which way forward for the organisation should be timely and welcome. Unfortunately and despite BAME Labour having conducted a so called “national consultation” with the virtually moribund membership, (based on one man and a dogs response) the review panel, having considered all of the options, have now produced two summary papers both suggesting, tepid reform of the existing organisation, as a way forward.
There are two problems with this, first among them, one set of proposals were only sent out at 4 pm Wednesday, 27 June for a conference that is set to consider these deeply contentious and complex issues, for a total of just three hours. The second of the summary papers BAME Labour Plus had not even been circulated at the time of writing this article. More evidence of the dysfunctional culture of ineptitude and disrespect we suffer from this current executive and the review panel.
How can one have proper debate and serious consideration about these issues, scheduling just three hour consultation, (with one hour for lunch) with a potential audience of over 250 people?. And, just to add insult to
injury, there will be no opportunity for BAME members, to amend these documents, vote on their contents or propose alternatives.
The suggested reform proposals, make no substantive acknowledgement of the failures of the past and fails to reflect the serious challenges facing the organisation going forward. Their suggestions are simply designed to keep the organisation intact whilst demanding greater representation on various national regional and local committees.
It is inconceivable that the review panel/executive could come to such weak conclusions, set against the backdrop of the catastrophic and total failure of the organisation.
What’s needed is comprehensive and radical constitutional reform and a policy rebuilding programme. There can be no going back to the failed methodologies and approaches of the past. There is a huge demand for change and a burning hunger, within our communities, for Labour to tackle and address the institutional race inequality and religious disadvantage that has now become entrenched in modern Britain.
This generation is facing the most unprecedented rise in rates of racial inequality and decline in social mobility ever recorded in British modern history. That’s the viewpoint of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, whose tri annual reports cite mounting evidence of the crisis facing our communities. And yet, during these unprecedented times, with Brexit, rises in institutional racism and Windrush, our organisation has been muted, bound and gagged, held hostage by a leadership that has failed on all counts.
So having waited for these documents, we are now of the view that it is time that the old leadership is dispensed with, and replaced by a brand-new constitution and leadership.
In short we are presented by a BAME Labour “take it or leave it” ultimatum, with no opportunity for proper discussion or amendment to the proposals in front of us.
These poorly organised consultation is an insult to our membership and is entirely inconsistent with the view of Momentum Black Caucus, that asks you to support a call conference to; elect a small working group from the conference floor, who are empowered to quickly consider new constitutional arrangements, capable of salvaging the organisation.
This working group can then quickly produce serious proposals that can be put before the membership. This is our proposal alternative to conference; time to end the culture of more political ineptitude, careerism, political cowardice and failure. We hope you will join us.
Momentum Black Caucus. National Press Officer.
The principle of Black self organisation within the Labour Party is
indivisible. It exists as a platform to articulate the needs of the
black, Asian and ethnic minority members and to tackle racism and
discrimination. No other political party in Western Europe has an
organisationof this kind.
BameLabour was founded as a successor to Black sections and to
provide a forum at every level of the party for back Asian and ethnic
minority members. It needs to reform and grow.
BAME Labour should be an independent self-governing movement
affiliated to the Labour Party. It’s members should self-identify at
the time of joining. The Labour Party should give a grant of £5 for
each member to the society.
- Hold An annual policy making conference.
- Organise and promote local Bame groups.
- Have two members of the NEC one woman and one man.
It should strive to:
Promote representation and policy making for the bame communities.
Its Committee should be elected by an electoral college made up of
50% trade unions and 50% members.
These are the main principles which upon New BAME Labour should aim to achieve.
To put these aims into practical terms,there should be a working:Group/Committee of…………people, Elected by this
Perhaps one member from NEC,one From BAME Labour,Katy Clark and three
members with experience of BAME issues etc.
Cllr Ahmad Shahzad OBE
Former Chair of BAME Labour.
TopTable at Launch of MBC London Region
Momentum Black Caucus (MBC)
Momentum Black Caucus was formed in order to re-invigorate Black
political mobilisation, contribute to the progressive agenda, align
with the progressive Labour movement and the Momentum project.
Black is a positive and inclusive term encompassing African, Asian and
Caribbean people in the UK discriminated against as a result of their
As a grassroots political movement, MBC will focus on broadening local
and national Black political engagement in the belief that the
diversity of Britain’s population must reflect a much greater
influence over the political decisions that directly affect our lives.
Consequently, the principle objective of MBC is the mobilising,
organising and creating of a sustainable Black political movement to
secure the election of a progressive Labour Party in order to bring
about real transformative change and delivery of the Black Agenda.
For further information about MBC please contact:
Momentum Black Caucus (MBC)
m: 07932 447 763