Labour Youth, Women, Disability & Black Groups Rally Against Conference Equalities Attack


“The rationales offered to justify this downgrade of equality positions on CLPs simply don’t stack up.”

Mish Rahman, Labour NEC

By Our Correspondent

The NEC last week passed proposals to remove key equality officer positions from local party executives, wuth youth, LGBT+, BAME and Disability the roles being downgraded. The changes will be voted on at Labour Conference on Sunday afternoon. Ahead of this, Labour’s official equality affiliates will be among those rallying against the changes.

In the wake of the changes, Disability Labour slammed the Party for being ‘institutionally ableist’ and creating an ‘unsafe space’ for disabled members – in latest of Leadership’s failings towards disabled people.

Starmer has also downgraded women’s conference, scrapped previously-agreed democratic structures for BAME and disabled members, ended the traditional Youth Day at Conference and previously silenced the party’s own youth wing over policy differences.

Supporting the rally, Mish Rahman, Labour NEC member, said: “Labour members are being let down once again. Barely a year on from the Forde Report, we are seeing active steps back on equalities actively fostered by the Labour Leadership. The rationales offered to justify this downgrade of equality positions on CLPs simply don’t stack up: this is nothing less than an attempt to disempower members from marginalised groups, at a time when the Leadership is consistently failing to stand up for their rights in the face of far right Tory authoritarianism.”

Labour Women Leading added: “Labour’s women members are tired of being treated as second class citizens in our own party. The party’s own rules dictate that women’s conference should be a two-day affair, and the last such event was a vibrant success. Yet now our conference has been watered down to a one-day event, without any fringes. The Labour Leadership should listen to its women members, and members from other marginalised groups, reinstate women’s conference to its full capacity and abandon this attack on equality roles in CLPs.”

Nabeela Mowlana, Chair of Young Labour commented: “Young members are vital to Labour’s campaigning efforts across the country – we must not be taken for granted. After Labour changed stances on tuition fees and rent controls, this rule change would disempower young Labour members locally, ahead of a General Election where we will be crucial to getting out the vote. With young people on the sharp edge of the housing and climate crises, and as the Tories turn their back on the future, we implore the Labour Leadership not to do the same.”

Hilary Schan at Momentum said: “Starmer’s attack on equal rights is merely the latest failure on equalities from a Leadership which treats its own members with contempt. Our rights to democratic policy-making are ignored, as are local parties’ ability to choose their own candidates, while women’s conference is downgraded and now mandatory equality roles in local parties scrapped. We need a democratic Labour Party and a leadership which stands up for progressive values in a context of rising hate, instead of silencing its own members.”

And a Labour Assembly Against Austerity spokesperson also gave their support to Sunday’s rally, saying “Liberation and equality positions and self-organised bodies are essential to fighting the Tories’ reactionary agenda and developing policies to transform our country – these attacks must be opposed.”

Featured image: Press photographers at the 2016 Labour Party Conference. Photo credit: Rwendland under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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