I was scrolling through the news articles on my phone trying to come up with a blog post (I’ve really been struggling with writer’s block recently) when I saw that Keir Starmer (the current Labour party leader) had made a very questionable statement during a live interview this morning.
During this interview he referred to Black Lives Matter (BLM) as a ‘moment’ and attempted to reduce what we’ve been successfully campaigning for to something fleeting, temporary and short-term. Also to claim that BLM is a reflection on what happened in America is deliberately obtuse, the BLM UK campaign isn’t focused on America only, its primary focus is based on the inherent anti-blackness and systemic racism that exists within the UK.
“The #BlackLivesMatter movement, or moment if you like, internationally is about reflecting on what happened in America”
– Labour leader Keir Starmer reduces BLM UK movement against Afriphobia to mere “moment” & fails to acknowledge racism in UK.pic.twitter.com/TcF159O6bF
— Nadine White (@Nadine_Writes) June 29, 2020
The fact that this extremely patronising statement comes just weeks after Keir Starmer was doing the most by kneeling to show his ‘support and solidarity with BLM’ comes as no surprise.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) June 9, 2020
It was in my opinion, pretty easy to read between the lines and identify Keir’s action as being opportunist in their nature. Prior to Keir’s sudden support of BLM the Labour party was facing damning accusations of inherent anti-blackness within the party. Earlier this year in April, an internal report was leaked which showed that MPs such as Diane Abbot and Dawn Butler were being degraded and undermined by other party members, which Keir Starmer failed to specifically address. Yet, just two months after he was now in full support of BLM.
At the time that Keir decided to kneel there was so much going on that I didn’t dwell on it, I felt it was performative but not necessarily damaging. Now Kier has tred into the damaging territory, by expressing that this is merely a ‘moment’ and that any debate about defunding the police is ‘nonsense’. For those who were already resistant to BLM they will be sure to soak this up and use this to their advantage. It also raises a common debate I have in mind about whether I should be voting for Labour. Their lazy reliance on receiving votes from black and other minority ethnic groups is very triggering and to top it off I don’t believe Labour has our best interests at heart, however the other option is to vote for Conservatives which isn’t appealing. It’s truly a case of being stuck between a rock and a hard place!
In all honesty, I don’t think this is a negative and will have much impact on progressing forward with BLM, for those who truly believe in the cause these comments and knee jerk reactions won’t sway their thinking. However, I do think that this is an eye-opening moment and a timely reminder that not all those who express support and claim to be allies are being genuine.