Editor’s comment: Motion will do nothing to heal party rift

The tweet by former Hackney councillor Patrick Moûle. Picture: Patrick Moule/Twitter

The tweet by former Hackney councillor Patrick Moûle. Picture: Patrick Moule/Twitter - Credit: Archant

I can understand the indignation from some Labour members about the national party being accused of institutional racism: certainly, it is gruelling to be labelled racist by parts of the media that have condoned and perpetuated some of the most vile and offensive anti-immigration rhetoric, and by politicians whose own record on equality is appalling.

But a concern is no less valid because it has been raised by hypocrites. And I must say I am baffled that any enlightened organisation in Hackney would claim not to be institutionally racist, especially in the face of complaints to the contrary: we are all socialised and institutionalised by a fundamentally racist society, from throwaway comments that go unchecked to representation in sitcoms to differing education outcomes to who is most likely to be poor. The onus is on us all to be critical of our prejudices and biases, and we are not automatically exempt from that just because we have a good record, or because we have offended one group while trying to do the right thing by another.

Moreover, how anyone thinks a motion “firmly rejecting the notion that Labour is in any way institutionally racist” will do anything but antagonise people is beyond me. The party’s observation that capitalism is to blame for the conditions that foster and excuse racism is spot on, but claiming to have somehow risen totally above that when we all still live in a capitalist society, and are bombarded by racist sentiments – and as we benefit to a greater or lesser extent from inequality – looks to me like an exercise in proving the critics right.

Does it really need saying that the fact most Labour members haven’t been expelled for antisemitism does not mean the party does not have a problem?