7 Nov 2019
Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party
This letter is re-posted with permission by the ‘Africans for JC values’ (November 5th 2019).
Africans For JC Values (Africans For Jeremy Corbyn Values) came about in 2016 to support the 10-Point Plan which was part of the Jeremy Corbyn campaign for leader of the Labour Party.
We are a left-leaning group which supports a Corbyn-led Labour Party and the policies developed for the 2017 Manifesto. Our group engages with Africans and other communities within and outside the Labour Party, and encourages them to get involved in politics and activism, in order to bring about much needed change.
For Africans For JC Values, African denotes all people of African descent, whether from the African continent or from the diaspora.
The aim of this letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party is to highlight issues which we would like taken into account in the Manifesto being consulted upon for the December 2019 elections. Long term, we would like to see the Labour Party champion the issues we raise.
Before itemising our areas of concern, we feel duty bound to sound a note of caution regarding Brexit. In our view, Brexit could be an unhelpful distraction. The election campaign emphasis should continue to be addressing Austerity and the crisis in Employment, Education, Housing and the NHS. These issues need to be addressed robustly from a left perspective, which puts people before profit.
- With regards to Racism and Identity, where Racism is subdivided e.g. anti-Semitism, anti-Gypsism, Islamophobia, etc, it is important that Afriphobia is also named or it perpetuates the marginalisation of Africans and ignores the particular racism faced by Africans.
- Please note that Afriphobia, which should be spelt with an “i”, is racism against African people – that is all people of African heritage, irrespective of antecedents. Afriphobia also describes the hatred of things African. We contributed to the Chakrabarti Enquiry in 2016 into anti-Semitism and other forms of Racism, which unwittingly discriminates against African people by ignoring the discrimination we continue to face – structural and institutional.
- The BAME terminology is outmoded and causes offence. We suggest AAME – African, Asian, Minority Ethnic
- People of Colour is an unhelpful term – it presupposes that white is not a colour.
- As we are midway through the UN’s International Decade for People of African Decsent (IDPAD) 2015-24 initiative, the Labour Party should commit to marking the Decade with a Programme of Action and Activities, which recognises the General Assembly adopted Resolution 68/237. The African community should be consulted and engaged in the development of such a Programme. It is disappointing that the Conservative government has failed to discharge its duty as a UN member state. We are hopeful that a Labour government, in contrast, will show leadership by making the UN IDPAD initiative an important part of policy.
- In terms of messaging for the elections, we would like to stress that Corbyn’s position on Brexit is the position agreed at Labour Party conference and that far from being indecisive, it is a clear demonstration of a Party which acknowledges the views of members.
- We support the focus on the Environment and investment in the Green Economy.
- Private Education should not be included in the Manifesto. In terms of the African community, we are aspirational and would like excellent schools. Labour should focus on improving State Schools and bringing them to the high standards found in the Independent sector.
- In terms of the Commonwealth and Windrush Scandal, we would like Labour to give an Amnesty to all those caught by the debacle. We believe it is important to use the correct terminology, as calling it the Windrush Scandal gives the false impression that it is limited to people from the Caribbean or people who came on a particular ship.
- An ethical Foreign Policy needs to include the terms of Trade so that Fairtrade, the Gold Standard in ethical trading, is the norm.
- The National Education Service is a popular and important initiative. Tuition fees need to be abolished and student debt addressed. Bursaries for Nurses need to be brought back and investment made into training of nurses, paramedics, doctors etc, rather than the present policy of poaching medical personnel from countries who have had the foresight to invest their limited resources in developing people.
- We would like Labour to halt the sale of current and future Council Housing Stock. We support the plans to build Council Housing, but would like to see Labour shift the focus from ownership to renting as is prevalent on the European continent, where it is not unusual for tenants to stay in properties for a generation or more. It is important in our view to reduce the percentage of household income which is spent on housing cost.
- Whilst we applaud the commitment to have an Emancipation Education Trust (EET), we strongly believe that it should focus on Global African History and the main aim should be to mainstream African History within formal and informal educational establishments. In our view, Africans with expertise, such as Community Historians, should be part of the decision-making stakeholders. Addressing Racism should be a cornerstone of the aims of the EET. Delivery should not be confined to the formal Education Sector but should include Community settings.
- We support plans to reverse all privatisation of the NHS, which needs to be publicly owned and protected from profiteering. Transportation of Patients for appointments should be returned to public ownership.
- We support bringing utilities back into public ownership. In our view, private enterprise should not be welcome in Water, Gas or Electricity provision nor should it be part of the public transport network, where currently profit is private but risk and loss is publicly owned.
- The Prison Service, the Police Service and the Fire Service should be publicly owned and privatisation of public services should be eliminated altogether.
- There should be a robust review of the use and misuse of Police Stop and Search.
- We support the introduction of a National Care Service to address the crisis in Care and ensure that our Senior citizens and Disabled Community receive quality support.
- We would like to see the labour Party halt the “Witchhunt” and address the perception on the Left that their right to speak out about injustice towards Palestinians and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) Campaign is being curtailed.
We look forward to a transformative Labour Government which brings hope to communities and addresses the urgent problems of our time.
Africans for JC Values Secretary