Islamophobia in political parties

24th Apr 2020
Islamophobia in political parties

 

No less than half of Labour’s 14 Muslim MPs have been given posts in Keir Starmer’s new Opposition frontbench. From a distance, it may seem like a huge breakthrough in diversity and minorities gaining full representation. But on closer examination, there are some 140 shadow positions, including almost 100 going to the Party’s 202 members of the House of Commons (the remainder to the upper chamber).

The newly elected Opposition Leader pledged that his Shadow Cabinet would be diverse. There are 17 women in the frontbench posts compared with 15 men. 104 of the total 202 Labour MPs are female. In terms of ethnic diversity, Labour said that the Shadow Cabinet had seven BAME members. However, they aren’t many in senior positions.

No Muslim has been appointed to the Shadow Cabinet. Rosena Allin-Khan in her junior ministerial role for mental health will be attending cabinet meetings.

Not one BAME MP has been included in Labour’s seven-member Covid-19 committee tasked with responding to the pandemic. How can such an unrepresentative task force deal with the gravest peacetime-crisis faced by Britain in modern times?

It is not to say that the seven Muslim Labour MPs tasked in such shadow jobs as in defence procurement, education early years, community cohesion, DFID, employment rights and Deputy Opposition Leader of the House of Commons as well as at mental health will not take up their posts with their normal zeal.

Starmer said his team showcased the “breadth, depth and talents” of the Party. It is just unfortunate that the balance of his front-bench does not reflect the realities of the make-up of British society.

Not that the record of his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn was much better in diversity nor indeed even more importantly Boris Johnson’s right-wing Tory Government.

Corbyn did not have a single Muslim in his Shadow Cabinet. Since Sajid Javid left the Government in protest and Transport Minister, Nusrat Ghani was sacked by Johnson, there is not a single Muslim not only in the Cabinet but also there are no Muslim ministers.

There are also no Muslim MPs in other opposition parties, the SNP and Liberal Democrats! It seems both Labour and Conservative leadership are not interested in giving Muslims positions of power as it gives to MPs of other faiths. Is it because of the rise of Islamophobia in political parties in the UK?

[Photo: UK Parliament. © Copyright Oast House Archive/Creative Commons]

Muslim MPs lose out in Starmers Shadow Cabinet

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