The Persistence of Labour Party Islamophobia
Categories: Latest News
Friday March 25 2022
A recently conducted survey by the Labour Muslim Network has been released demonstrating the views and perceptions of Muslim Labour Party members over a year since its groundbreaking Islamophobia 2020 report. In the 15 months since the Labour Muslim Network published the report on the Muslim experience of Islamophobia within the Labour Party, it is concerning to find that the crisis has only deepened, as revealed by a new poll by Muslim Census.
This poll reveals that an increasing number of Muslim members and supporters feel that the Labour Party does not represent the Muslim community, rising over 20% since the 2020 report. When asked how effectively Islamophobia is being tackled, 40% of the respondents stated that the Labour party has dealt with issues of Islamophobia ”very badly” Similarly, 46% said that Sir Keir Starmer, as the party’s leader, has handled Islamophobia ”very badly”. Such findings indicate that Muslim members and supporters are being let down and alienated by the Labour Party and its leadership, which could considerably impact the political system, as Muslims are not only being excluded from the political process, but indifference towards Islamophobia is becoming apparent.
Indeed, the survey findings come days after the Labour Party was accused of Islamophobia after three Muslim candidates were told that they would be removed as council candidates in Tower Hamlets. It was reported that the candidates were discriminated against because of their Muslim background; the selection interview process was thought to be culturally insensitive and Islamophobic, including an allegation that an event held to celebrate the work of the Anti-Apartheid “London Recruits” was mistaken by one interviewer as being a jihadi recruitment event. The Labour Party claims to be an anti-racist party committed to combating and campaigning against all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. However, the poll findings and the latest allegations suggest that the Labour Party is breaching its new code of conduct, which was approved by Labour’s ruling national executive committee last July to create a safe space for its members and supporters. It is concerning to see that the Labour Party, the longstanding party of choice for the overwhelming Muslim voters, appears to be turning a blind eye to Islamophobia within its party despite having adopted the APPG definition of Islamophobia. While adopting a definition is a critical first step in tackling this phenomenon, the Labour Party must treat Islamophobia with the same urgency as antisemitism by utilising the APPG definition as a framework for rooting out and eradicating Islamophobia within the party.
The denial and overlooking of Islamophobia within political parties will inevitably jeopardise Muslim participation in politics and further alienate Muslim voters. A survey carried out by Muslim Census found that 1 in 4 Muslims aged 18-24 are disengaged with politics because they see that “all current parties are deeply Islamophobic”. They do not find representation in any political party. Instead, they would rather make a statement by not voting rather than voting for a party that will potentially further harm their community. Consequently, the Labour Party are at risk of losing 55% of their regular Muslim vote. As such, representative parties must have relatively high levels of political engagement, including Muslims, to ensure their policies reflect the community’s needs. It is equally vital to encourage the next generation to participate in the political system and influence positive change in society.
Ultimately, Islamophobia in the UK is widespread and is not confined to one party or political orientation
. Political parties must root out Islamophobia within their ranks. Failure to do so inevitably facilitates an environment that allows Islamophobic hate crime and enables structural Islamophobic policies like the Prevent strategy to continue unchallenged. Therefore, MEND urges the widespread backing of the APPG Islamophobia definition across all political parties and supports the Labour Muslim Network’s recommendation that the Labour Party must work with its Muslim supporters to tackle Islamophobia wherever it exists.