Labour leader Keir Starmer has appealed to Black voters not to leave the party, following backlash over an interview in which he dismissed the Black Lives Matter goal of defunding the police as “nonsense”.
HuffPost UK revealed in June that scores of Black people were leaving or considering leaving the party over concerns that anti-Black racism was not being adequately addressed by the leadership.
It was sparked by a leaked report into anti-Semitism in the party, drafted in March and leaked in April, which also appeared to uncover examples of Afriphobia – prompting Starmer to appoint a four-person panel to investigate.
Still, Black voters have expressed disappointment with silence on the matter from leadership while this is underway.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Monday, Starmer said: “Nobody should be saying anything about defunding the police.
“I was director of public prosecutions for five years. I’ve worked with police forces across England and Wales bringing thousands of people to court, so my support for the police is very strong.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tells #BBCBreakfast it’s "a shame" the sentiment behind the Black Lives Matter movement is getting “tangled up with these organisational issues" and it’s "nonsense" to call to ‘Defund the Police’. pic.twitter.com/7ydITWGZWN— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) June 29, 2020
Now, amid growing backlash from people who described his interview as “disappointing” and cited it as grounds to part ways with Labour, Starmer is appealing to Black people to stay.
“I don’t want anybody to leave the Labour Party,” Starmer told HuffPost UK on Thursday.
“The Labour Party is a broad church. It is a place that I hope and am determined that Black people feel that they are welcome, that they want to be; we definitely need as much Black representation in the Labour Party as we can possibility get.”
The Labour leader described the party as “anti-racist” and suggested that disciplinary...