Organisations and individuals including Kehinde Andrews, Hanif Kureishi, Ahdaf Soueif, Gillian Slovo, Robert Del Naja and Anish Kapoor urge BAME and migrant communities to vote for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn. Guest article from Red Pepper.
As BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) representatives, organisations, anti-racist activists and individuals involved in local, national, and international campaigns, we urge BAME and migrant communities to vote for the Labour Party on 12 December, to elect Jeremy Corbyn, a long-standing friend and supporter of the anti-racist causes we campaign for.
Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour Party has transformed politics in the UK, bringing hope to millions from our communities, who had previously been ignored, silenced, and oppressed by over nine years of Conservative and Liberal Democrat governments. Labour’s membership has soared since 2015, with a significant influx of BAME and migrant members. Our communities joined Labour because of Jeremy’s positions and exemplary record, over many decades, of standing beside us in our struggles against injustice and structural racism, at home and abroad. In the 2017 General Election, we turned out in record numbers to vote for Corbyn’s inclusive Labour party.
No other British politician in recent memory has been so dedicated to working with us in our communities, in order to overturn racism and achieve justice for those of us facing oppression and injustices. Jeremy’s first speech as Labour leader in 2015 was to a “refugees welcome” rally, reflecting his longstanding commitment to achieve basic rights for migrants. Since becoming an MP in 1983, he has personally intervened on countless occasions to prevent deportations. In 2012 and 2014, Jeremy was one of only six MPs (alongside shadow cabinet members John McDonnell and Diane Abbott) that voted against the racist ‘Hostile Environment’ legislation that created the Windrush scandal, and has hurt hundreds of thousands of people in our communities.
Jeremy’s position on migrant justice is based on a true internationalism with a commitment to anti-racist and anti-colonial principles. In 1984, he was arrested protesting outside the embassy of Apartheid South Africa. In 1998, the Chilean former dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London only after Corbyn supported a 25 year campaign against his fascist regime. In 2001, he publicly opposed the NATO invasion of Afghanistan.
In 2003, he spoke at the demonstration against the illegal British and American invasion of Iraq. He has always stood in solidarity with the Tamils of Sri Lanka, calling for accountability and ending the arms trade. He has spoken out against the oppression of persecuted peoples across the world, including Palestinians and Kurds in the Middle East, as well as communities in Mexico, Haiti, West Papua – often when no one else would.
Jeremy Corbyn was a key organiser in the Haringey Labour anti-racist group in the 1970s which later became the Anti-Nazi League. In 1977, he organised with the Indian Workers’ Association to turn back a violent National Front demonstration in Wood Green, North London. In 1992, Jeremy attended the inquest into the death of Leon Patterson, a young black man who died in police custody. In these ways and many more, he continues to keep police brutality against communities of colour on the political agenda, constantly tabling questions on police violence, including on Mark Duggan’s fatal shooting in 2011.
These are some of the reasons we know that Jeremy Corbyn is no ordinary politician. Each one of us, as individuals and organisations, have memories of Jeremy attending our events and demonstrations, large and small, championing our causes, and being our voice in Parliament – standing with us when we were dismissed and ignored.
In government he pledges to close detention centres, oppose imperial wars that have killed millions, and dismantle the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment policies, which criminalise our communities, and have led to the deaths of so many.
The Conservative government’s negligence allowed our brothers and sisters to die in the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower and has deported British citizens for the crime of being black during the Windrush scandal. We cannot continue like this: we must have a Labour victory in the upcoming election. We urgently need it.
Jeremy Corbyn will be the United Kingdom’s first anti-racist Prime Minister. We call on all of you, BAME and migrant communities to mobilise everyone you know, and ensure we get Labour elected on December 12. At this critical moment of possibility, and the chance for change, we stand with Jeremy Corbyn – just as he has always stood with us.
Initiating and supporting groups:
Arab Labour Group
Black Labour Movement
Labour Against Racism and Fascism (LARAF)
Labour Friends of Kashmir
Lantinx for Corbyn
Kurds for Labour
Indians for Labour
Labour Friends of Yemen
Jewish Socialists’ Group
Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike
London Young Labour BAME Network
South Asia Solidarity Group
Dr Adam Elliott-Cooper – King’s College London
Ahdaf Soueif – Novelist
Dr Ala’a Al Shehabi – University College London
Professor Amia Srinivasan – University of Oxford
Sir Anish Kapoor C.B.E.
Anjum Mouj – Trainer and consultant
Ash Sarkar – Novara Media
Ashok Kumar – Lecturer of Political Economy
Asmahan Nouman – Chair of Network of Eritrean Women UK
Atallah Said O.B.E. – Founder of Arab Labour
Bill MacKeith – Campaign to Close Campsfield
Bobby Chan – Veteran Chinese human rights activist
Crissie Richter – Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike
Dalia Gebrial – Novara Media
Professor David Graeber – London School of Economics
David Rosenberg – Convenor of Cable Street 80 commemoration
Don Flynn – Migrants rights campaigner
Elif Sarican – Kurdish Women’s Movement
Estella Schmid – Peace in Kurdistan
Farhana Yamin – Associate Fellow, Chatham House
Farzana Khan – Healing Justice London
Professor Felix Padel – Associate of University of Oxford
Firoze Manji – Publisher and academic
Gillian Slovo – Novelist, playwright and memoirist
Grant Marshall – Massive Attack
Professor Gautam Appa – London School of Economics
Professor Gurminder Bhambra – University of Sussex
Professor Gus John
Amrit Wilson – South Asia Solidarity Group
Nisha Kapoor – University of Warwick
Richard Rieser – World of Inclusion
Zrinka Bralo – Migrants rights campaigner
Hanif Kureishi C.B.E
Harsev Bains – Indian Workers Association (GB)
Dr John Narayan – King’s College London
Dr Kalpana Wilson – Birkbeck University
Katrina Ffrench – Human Rights Advocate
Professor Karma Nabulsi – University of Oxford
Professor Kehinde Andrews – Birmingham City University
Khadija Mohammad-Nur – Co-founder of Network of Eritrean Women
Professor Laleh Khalili – School of Oriental and Afican Studies
Leena Dhingra – Actress
Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins – University of Warwick
Linton Kwesi Johnson – Poet and musician
Dr Mezna Qato – University of Cambridge
Mirza Saaib Beg – Lawyer, Kashmir Reading Room
Mukhtar Dar – Founding member of South Asian Alliance (Birmingham)
Dr Musab Younis – Queen Mary University
Dr Nivi Manchanda – Queen Mary University
Noorafshan Mirza – Independent Cultural Worker
Peter Herbert O.B.E – Society of Black Lawyers
Rahila Gupta – Southall Black Sisters
Dr Rahul Rao – Senior Lecturer in Politics, SOAS
Remi Joseph-Salisbury – Racial Justice Network
Robert Del Naja – Massive Attack
Rossanna Leal – Organiser and migrant rights campaigner
Sara Callway – Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike
Sarli Nana – Migrant justice and anti-racist campaigner
Selma James – Global Women’s Strike
Shakila Taranum Maan – Artist and filmmaker
Dr Sita Balani – King’s College London
Dr Sivamohan Valluvan – University of Warwick
Professor Sundari Anitha – University of Lincoln
Suresh Grover – Anti-racist activist, Stephen Lawrence Inquiry
Dr Tanzil Chowdhury – Queen Mary University
Professor Virinder Kalra – University of Warwick
Yemsrach Hailemariam – Free Andy Tsege Campaign
Zita Holbourne – National Chair BARAC UK
First published in Red Pepper, 10 December 2019
Featured image: Red Pepper