AN internal investigation into over one thousand complaints of racism alleged to have been committed by Labour Party staffers, members and officials, has been shelved, leading to Diane Abbott, Dawn Butler, and other black MPs to write an open letter of complaint.
The inquiry, headed by Martin Forde QC, was set up last May to investigate a leaked internal report containing alleged racist comments about Black MPs mainly by party staffers.
The inquiry, which has already been delayed once, has now shockingly been shelved indefinitely over concerns it might prejudice a yet ANOTHER investigation from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The letter from Black MPs including Marsha de Cordova, Diane Abbott, Clive Lewis and Dawn Butler, was addressed to party leader Keir Starmer and warned that failing to publish Forde’s report risked “doubling down on the impression that the party does not take issues of anti-Black racism seriously”.
Labour’s leaked internal report highlighted racism that Bame people have experienced and witnessed within the party.
One of the signatories told LabourList that the Forde Inquiry development and the handling of the news was “either cock-up or conspiracy, or the third option ‘we don’t care’”, and that tackling anti-Black racism did not seem to be a priority for the party.
“[Over] the past year, the fear that there is the creeping understanding that there is a hierarchy of racism in the party just gains ground every week,” the MP said, who wanted a “proper statement” about the news.
The full letter, sent to party leader Keir Starmer, can be read below:
We are disappointed and seriously concerned with reports that the Forde Inquiry has now been delayed indefinitely. The Forde Inquiry will be a crucial part of understanding the way in which the party has dealt with accusations of anti-Black racism.
As Black Labour MPs, we wish to draw particular attention to the evidence in the leaked report the Forde Inquiry has been tasked with looking into, which showed repeated hostility and abuse shown towards Black Labour MPs. The possibility of a racist culture and a hostile environment for Black members within the party needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency and the Forde inquiry is an important tool for doing just that.
However, continued delays to the report harm the confidence party members have in its findings. The importance of addressing crucial concerns around racism and the importance of maintaining the confidence of party members must be weighed up with alleged concerns about prejudicing the ICO’s work. The party’s obligations are to its members and not just the ICO.
Delaying the Forde inquiry and failing to provide a future date by which its findings will be published risks further doubling down on the impression that the party does not take issues of anti-black racism seriously. The abuse contained within the report and the issues it seeks to address are incredibly serious and must be part of our attempts to ensure the Labour party is an inclusive and tolerant place. The fact that members who contributed to anti-black racism have been readmitted to the party is a cause of concern and this delay only adds to the anxiety.
The party have a responsibility to ensure that the findings of the Forde Inquiry are published as soon as is practical and must consider the perspectives of Black and Ethnic Minority Members in making that decision. We urge the party leadership to reconsider this delay and publish parts of the report that do not relate to the leak but to the prevailing culture in the party. We appreciate the professional approach by Forde and his team and would welcome the opportunity to peruse said report.
Marsha de Cordova