BAME Labour: Socialist Society
BAME LABOUR Socialist Society was set up as a political settlement to the acrimonious battle for Black Sections in the Labour Party. The Trade unions NUPE (National Union of Public Employees and the National Union of Mineworkers were the first trade unions in the 1980s to consistently support the establishment of the Black Sections in the Labour Party with many prominent Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs). At the end of the 1980s, almost every affiliated trade union had supported the establishment of the Black Socialist Society.
There was a split in support for Black Sections with some calling out racism in the Party while others denied racism in the Party. Indeed, Sharon Atkins, the then Councillor in Lambeth – who was selected as a Black Sections Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Nottingham East – was deselected for calling out racism in the Labour Party.
Over 30 years later the Forde Report, commissioned by the Labour Party has laid bare the extent of the issue of racism which the Party is still grappling to address. The Labour Party is still not sure how to deal with Black members in its structures – as Chapter 12 of the Rule Book on BAME Organisation and Representation is yet to be implemented although adopted at the Labour Annual Conference in 2021. And it continues to blame BAME Labour for its failures to make progress on this issue.
Trade unions were instrumental is settling this issue of Black Representation and in securing the political settlement. At the heart of this is the 50:50 representation between the CLPs (Constituency Labour Party and the Trade Union members. BAME trade union members are Political Levy payers – who opt-in to the Labour Party and sustain the Labour Party with funding since its formation. Anti-Trade union laws have been used, for example, the Trade Union Act 2016 and lots of 1980s Anti-Trade Union laws, to shackle the power of the trade unions and its support for Labour.
The Labour Party has long been considered the natural home of BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) members. From Labour’s Race Relations Act of 1968 to Labour’s previous terms in Government - Labour had more MPs from BAME backgrounds than all the other parties combined. Labour has consistently been at the forefront of championing equality and diversity.
The Labour Party Movement Black Sections made history when they campaigned to elect the first four Black MPs to the House of Commons in 1987. They achieved huge successes in increasing Black representation in elected positions across the Labour Party. By 1990, Black Sections was integrated into the Labour Party structures with full trade unions support as the Black Socialist Societies and eventually became BAME Labour as it exists today. Black as a political term was extended to the term BAME – a tool to divide the membership into different groups and undermine the effectiveness and cohesiveness of BAME Labour. The reality is that BAME Labour receives no funding, development grants as other groups from the Labour Party. It is funded by BAME Labour members – the trade union membership, the levy payers in the trade unions who want a political voice, representation and to see a Labour Party in power and in Government.
BAME Labour seeks to empower ethnic minority members within all levels of the Labour Party and campaigns for greater representation of ethnic minority communities in public life. It states that it is a democratic organisation that is affiliated to the Labour Party, but politically and organisationally independent.
The organisation consists of an elected representatives – an Executive Committee; has an elected reserved seat on the Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) and four reserved elected seats on the National Policy Forum (NPF) since the Partnership into Power process was set up.
Organisations affiliated within the Labour Party can affiliate with BAME Labour, for example, trade unions and CLPs.
Copyright: ©SM-GM -BAME Labour SS September 2023.