Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Starmer Dismisses Black Lives Matter

Yet again, I have to write about Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer misjudging the Black Lives Matter movement and perhaps inadvertently insulting BAME communities, through his desperation to appeal to the right wing. Yesterday on the BBC, Starmer suggested the Black Lives Matter organisation and movement were separate entities and that he supported the movement but not the organisation. What a load of drivel!
"Black Lives Matter is an organized movement advocating for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality against African-American people." Wikipedia
Let's be absolutely clear, Black Lives Matter is not a movement to be co-opted by white liberals so they can tell black people they know better. It was started by black activists campaigning for social justice and an end to police brutality and systemic racism. The organisation is the movement and to suggest white liberals can either disregard or redefine the central messaging is hugely insulting. Racist probably.
How dare Sir Keir Starmer try to belittle those black activists, to say he had no truck with anything they have to say!
Labour has been mired by an antisemitism scandal in recent years and no Labour politician would dare be so disrespectful to Jewish organisations or communities. If they did so, they would be expelled from the Labour Party and quite rightly too, but it would seem this Labour Party has a racism hierarchy. An awful thing to say, and I do so, not in any way to pit one racism against another but to point out all racisms should be treated as equally unacceptable.
The Labour leadership does not appear to take, for example, the racist abuse levelled at Diane Abbott anywhere near seriously enough for my liking. The party's attitude to anti-black racism in recent months has seemed arrogant and dismissive. Indeed the leadership has been as silent on the matter as it could possibly be - and that is a disgrace.
Why is it considered okay to disregard the concerns of black people in this way? Is it because many of the alleged racists are Starmer supporters?
Most damning perhaps is how Starmer has won the praise of Nigel Farage for his dismissal of the Black Lives Matter "organisation". Sure Farage was stirring the pot, but Starmer gave him that open goal. The two clearly see eye to eye on this matter and it's hardly unreasonable to say the Labour leader should be closer to Black Lives Matter than to the former UKIP  and current Brexit Party leader. FFS I can't believe I even have to say this!

Of course, the elephant in the room is that Black Lives Matter is clearly a progressive, anti-capitalist movement and it would be difficult for Starmer to outright reject calls for economic equity while masquerading as a socialist. Murmurings within the party suggest Starmer is looking to water down Labour's key manifesto pledges, including the Green New Deal. If we can't trust the man to take the future of our planet seriously enough, how can we trust him to push for racial and economic justice? To put it simply, we can't.
Starmer is a man of the establishment, a knight of the realm, and our capitalist establishment is built on white supremacy.
Starmer rather dismissively described the worldwide BLM protests as a "moment" and suggested they were for the world to reflect on the murder of George Floyd. "It’s reflecting on what happened dreadfully in America just a few weeks ago, and showing or acknowledging that as a moment across the world,” he said. This is absurdly reductionist and extremely ignorant of the reality. This movement began way before this one horrific murder.
Black Lives Matter was founded on 13th July 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing teenager Trayvon Martin, but the campaign against police brutality has been going on decades, and the struggle for racial equality has been going on centuries.
Now is not a time for optics politicians to kneel in fake solidarity and take no meaningful action. It is certainly not a time to arrogantly dismiss the "defund the police" message without looking at the nuance. Without considering that while in the US, people are primarily referring to police demilitarisation, in the UK people are asking for funds to be redirected into youth services and crime prevention, tackling the root causes and fixing society, rather than simply waiting for things to go wrong and then flinging victims of economic inequality in prison.
Starmer could have easily addressed the nuance, but black people weren't his target audience - white conservatives were. So instead he dismissed legitimate concerns about our approach to crime prevention  and said "I won't have any truck with anything the organisation is saying about defunding the police or anything else". Fucking outrageous.

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