New BAME Labour members should be welcomed, not questioned

Asim Khan, a Labour member in Glasgow, has written to the Herald about the deeply troubling response by some in the party to reports of new BAME members joining Labour.


Dear Sir/Madam,

As a member of the BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) community; member of the Labour Party; former CLP secretary and former parliamentary candidate, I have been distressed to read comments in articles about the rise in Labour Party membership.

For the first time in the history of British politics we have the opportunity to elect a leader of Scottish Labour who belongs to an ethnic minority. I believe this is highly significant in this current cycle of politics in Scotland because we could be electing the first First Minister from an ethnic minority.

My daughter is one of those members who has recently joined the party. She is 15. She has joined because she sees the potential of someone with her same ethnic origin becoming the next First Minister of Scotland.

And for those who are older than my daughter I suspect they too have joined because in Anas Sarwar they see someone like them; someone with whom they can have an affinity; someone who understands what it is like to live as a member of an ethnic minority in Scotland and in Britain today.

Ethnic minorities are still underrepresented in all walks of life and especially politics. We need role models and for teenagers like my daughter we need role models so that they can aspire to lead in their communities and positively contribute to society.

I am disappointed by many of my comrades in the Labour Party who are decrying the surge in membership from ethnic minorities. Are they suggesting that people from the ethnic minorities should not join the Labour Party? I sincerely hope not and I urge the current leadership of the Labour Party to robustly denounce those members who decry this surge in membership. Such criticism cannot and should not be tolerated.

The Labour Party I know was founded on principles of democratic socialism. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone. Common endeavour must include everyone in our society including people from all minorities. I joined the Labour Party because it represents my voice as a member of the ethnic minority living in Scotland.

Yours sincerely

Asim Khan
LLB; Dip L.P; LLM; N.P

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21 thoughts on “New BAME Labour members should be welcomed, not questioned

  1. Actually in UK terms electing a White ethnic Scot into any position in Labour would be electing a minority ethnic. Not sure why Anas thinks his minority ethnic should be considered over Richards. Best to leave ethnics out of the equation altogether sounds too much like blood and soil Nationalism to me.

  2. Asim. Of course if Labour Party members are ‘decrying the upsurge’ in Asian members you are right to call this out. I note though that you are very well qualified legally. I assume you will regard it as fair to produce evidence? Note-we are talking here about Labour members not SNP supporters or part time political punters outside of Labour membership. Also I would expect that ‘decrying’ would mean that those making the comments are directly opposing membership -not for legitimate reasons such as false identity or not being eligible- but because they are being regarded as an unwanted minority, which if true is shameful and should (with evidence) be reported to Labour Party governance. Please do respond and provide specific concrete examples. Sorry to be a little pedantic here but facts as I am sure you will agree are important.

  3. It’s up to the voter but I don’t believe anyone should be elected on the grounds of race, be it a positive or negative discrimination. I wouldn’t join a party just to elect someone of the same race, I would join a party to elect someone of the same principals. I believe the leader should be elected on principals alone. New BAME members, welcome! Lets vote with our conscience and elect the right person for the job.

    1. For me it’s not a question of principles either. Both contenders clearly have good principles. Leadership for me is about being able to present our shared principles to the public, unite our party and be a credible candidate for First Minister.

      1. I respectfully disagree. The presentation is merely the gloss on the surface – the PR. That stuff puts me off. We need to get into a space where politician stand for something and you vote for what they stand for at their core. Not someone who a focus group find amiable, or can spin a story well, or can debate like a lawyer. Someone who means something. I’m sick of media politicians. I want an honest to-god-person who says what he does and does what he says.

        1. Then we do disagree. The leader is not there to shape the party to his or her principles. A good leader has the capacity to set aside personal views when it is in the interests of the party and the country, not impose them. Individual MPs, MSPs and councillors are rightly elected on their personal principles; but a leader needs to embody the heart and soul of the party, and find the compromises necessary to deliver our values in government; not to demand everyone else conforms to his or her ideals.

          I think both the current candidates are capable of being such a leader. I fear the supporters of one of them have very little interest in either compromise or unity, both of which are necessary for power.

          1. So what happens when the interests of the party and the country diverge? Does a Labour leader serve the party or the Country?
            Its always interesting to note the order of priority Labour acolytes give to service. Party first then everything else in no particular order.
            See I think a Leader of a party who has ambitions to be the Leader of the country should consider his loyalties a bit more carefully than you do Duncan.
            You cant expect non party members to vote for somebody who’s first if not only priority is his party and not the country now can you?

          2. Happily Labour has a clear recent example of what happens when the interests of the party and the country diverge. In 2014 we poured our all into ensuring that Scotland remained part of the UK because it was in the best interests of the country, despite it resulting in significant short-term electoral damage for the party. By contrast the SNP put the party aim of independence first, ahead of the people’s interest which was clearly in retaining the pooling and sharing of the United Kingdom. The Tories’ recent history too points to them putting party before country – the EU referendum was called solely to solve an internal problem for their party, and it has now done untold damage to the country.

            I’ve said it many times; I’m proud Labour puts country before party. Few others can say the same.

        2. Ian

          Time to reconsider your political loyalties then. You’re not going to find what you’re looking for in the Labour party.

      2. Problem is not only are Labour principles not shared they are constantly in a state of flux.
        By the time you get around trying to present a set of principles to the public they’ve moved on and become a different set.
        And it gets even more complicated when you consider the differences in principles employed within the different constitutional Countries within the UK.
        So we have a constant state of flux in different sets of principles which are uncoordinated across the UK.
        So you see its best if you don’t ask people to judge Labour on principle but on their ability to operate without them.
        What you need to find as a credible candidate for a Labour party FM is a weather vane principled stalwart so they can fully represent the fast moving principles of the Labour party in Scotland.

        Or you can fall back to asking the electorate to vote for the Red Rosette again.

          1. Labour have adopted the principles “ON PAPER” in Scotland and England the SNP have employed in Government since 2007 after directly opposing them since 2007.
            Labour in Wales are still opposing these “PAPER PRINCIPLES” by employing the opposite set of principles through policy choices.
            What hasn’t changed is your wilful deceit and unwillingness to acknowledge reality.
            Agenda driven dishonesty. Now that’s what Labour calls Party loyalty.

          2. On principle the SNP don’t take up invitations to become peers in the House of Lords. On Principle Labour sell opportunities to become peers in the House of Lords to party donors backers and supporters.
            That’s one principle that hasn’t changed I will grant you that.

          3. Aye Duncan, theirs an old saying that perfectly describes yersel ;

            ” you have more faces than the toon clock”

            trying to say labour put country before party – LOL

      3. Anas Sarwar lied on principle by denying he was part of the Better Together campaign during the potential leaders debate on STV Duncan.

        In all honesty I have to admit it is indeed a principle well shared between members of the Labour party.

        And of course you were right when you pointed out its not the kind of principles I personally like.

  4. “Happily Labour has a clear recent example of what happens when the interests of the party and the country diverge. In 2014 we poured our all into ensuring that Scotland remained part of the UK because it was in the best interests of the country, despite it resulting in significant short-term electoral damage for the party.”

    Except you had no idea it was going to cause you any electoral damage when you decided Scotland was better off under Tory rule from Westminster than a potential Real Scottish Labour Government in Scotland.
    You would rather put the Tory party needs before the needs of Scotland let alone Labours.

    “By contrast the SNP put the party aim of independence first, ahead of the people’s interest”

    The people of Scotland gave the SNP an overwhelming mandate to call that referendum by not doing so they would have neglected the will of the people of Scotland and broken an election promise to them.

    In contrast the people of Scotland oppose Trident renewal on the principle that it is an obscenity in terms of morality economics practicality usefulness and location.
    There was a time Labour supported CND with Labour MPs marching with them in protest. What happened to those principles Duncan?

  5. “Happily Labour has a clear recent example of what happens when the interests of the party and the country diverge. In 2014 we poured our all into ensuring that Scotland remained part of the UK because it was in the best interests of the country”

    Labour is a single UK wide political party in what universe is it not in the best interests of the UK Labour party to support Scotland remaining in the UK irrespective of how the people of Scotland feel about it Duncan?

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