Labour Black Socialists (LBS) note that Preston Tabois, a Labour Party Councillor in Tottenham, a Unite trade union activist backed by Momentum, and the only African Caribbean on the party’s list of 10 for the Greater London Assembly, has been removed as a candidate by a newly reconvened NEC panel, chaired by Margaret Beckett MP.
LBS demand the immediate reinstatement of Preston Tabois to the Labour List for the Greater London Assembly. LBS demand that the decision to remove Preston from the List and the Panel that took it be immediately investigated. Our charge is one of racism based on a biased and unfair application of rules of the Labour Party.
Apparently, the cause for his removal is likely to be a Tweet about antisemitism from six years ago, for which he has already been taken to task by a previous NEC panel who recommended he remain on the list after he acknowledged the issue and apologised. The latest development is discriminatory and goes against natural justice.
A panel led by Ms Margaret Beckett should have the compassion and political sensitivity to know that political misspeaking is a problem that all of us can slip into quite easily. Recently, Ms Beckett was not suspended for calling a fellow NEC member, who was doing her job for the members, a “silly cow”. That is an old anti-feminist trope. And an experienced MP and NEC member should have known that was politically a misstep. Her apology for one of the oldest anti-feminist abstractions used by men was accepted.
That same panel should have noted when Keir Starmer misspoke about BLM as a moment rather than a movement, his apology was accepted and he was sent off for a bit of unconscious bias training to address his alleged prejudices.
There has been no meaningful sanction against another more prominent party member who, as is common knowledge, had an almost two-decade self-admitted corporate complicity with South African Apartheid when serving as a Labour Councillor and who is now a senior Labour Party MP; an MP who admitted profiting from a crime against humanity that affected tens of millions of black people; a person complicit with Apartheid who has failed to demonstrate any redress for those faults, yet as an MP is still a member of the party and still has the Labour whip. In contrast to Jeremy Corbyn, an MP who had spent decades fighting against Apartheid and still waits to have the whip restored.
Against this backdrop, it is morally inconceivable that a councillor should be removed as a GLA candidate for a tweet from 6 years ago for which he has already acknowledged his fault and apologised, and has continued to hold office with no objection by Party office.
In Liverpool, the leading candidate was a black woman who had not said, or done, anything wrong. Leaked videos revealed that there were actually problems with what was said in court by the Labour party and what had actually happened. The cancellation of her candidacy for Liverpool Executive Mayor was completely unjustified. An unedifying mess has followed. In preference to the black woman cancelled by the Labour Party, the Tories are now going to exercise technocratic control over a Labour-majority Council that had never been ruled by the Tories, and this with Labour Party approval !
The current Labour Party candidate in Hartlepool is not on the cutting edge of equality. He has been parachuted in, and onto on a long-list of one.
Labour Black Socialists urges the Labour Party NEC to reverse its decision in the case of Preston Tabois. He is a good councillor, brings the perspective of working-class black people into local government. The Labour Party has to stop this attack on black, Muslim and socialist candidates, especially those who want justice for all, including all people in Israel-Palestine.
The Labour Party should stop cultivating this unsafe and unwelcome environment for black people, Muslims and socialists. The Labour Party, if it wishes to be a government-in-waiting, has to be a broad church. For the past year, there has been an unqualified commitment to shift the Labour Party to the right at the cost of black people, Muslims and socialists. The Labour Party must reinstate Preston Tabois as a sign of creating a safe and welcoming space for black people in its house.
This episode again demonstrates that the Labour Party is losing its way on equalities issues.