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