Official Portrait courtesy of HM Government

RIGHT-WING Labour NEC member, Luke Akehurst, has confirmed in a series of tweets that Diane Abbott, the first black woman elected to Parliament and the longest-serving black MP in the House of Commons, was excluded from an event, ironically billed as ‘regaining the confidence of BAME party members’ because she is not seen as a supporter of the leadership.  Other black MPs excluded were Clive Lewis, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Dawn Butler and Marsha de Cordova.  By a strange coincidence all are members of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs.

Akehurst, a prominent anti-socialist member of Labour’s NEC and a Starmerite, inadvertently confirmed in a tweet on Wednesday that the platform was tilted towards MPs who support the leadership.  He went on to say, “We are running a party trying to win power, not an internal debating society”.

Twitter users were quick to point out what dangerous territory these comments were taking the party into. As @Slimbo32 tweeted: “So an event for discussing concerns in the Labour Party around race issues only allowed BAME speakers who didn’t have concerns with the way the current leadership is handling race issues?” @UmutSelvi was incredulous. They tweeted: “So you didn’t invite the first Black woman MP because of your factional agenda…. Every Labour member and supporter should open their eyes.  It is now the party of a far-right faction”.

Others made the point that BAME structures should be self-organising and sarcastically thanked Luke Akehurst for confirming that it was a leadership-organised event.  Akehurst merely responded to the dissent by tweeting “And? So what?” The arrogance and sense of entitlement is seeping from every one of his pores. 

The risk of course, is that this is part of the drip-drip approach which starts to normalise the abnormal. Refusing to support striking workers, not allowing any dissent on Ukraine, putting patriotism at the heart of Labour’s strategy, grovelling over the monarchy, supporting the Tories’ immigration policies, are all issues that are pushing Labour further and further away from a socialist agenda. 

Yes, we all remember those ten pledges, including the one about promoting unity, pluralism and improving the culture. We should be grateful, at least, that Luke Akehurst has well and truly confirmed that the final nail is now in that coffin.  No one can be under any illusions about where Starmer’s Labour stands.  It is not in a good place.

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