This week UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to ongoing accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party, issuing this public video statement.
Meanwhile the Conservative Party face renewed accusations of Islamophobia after Boris Johnson’s comments about women in Burka’s caused considerable offence.
The media has been reporting both antisemitism in Labour and Islamophobia in the Conservatives all year. Some journalists and commentators have speculated as to which of the two major parties is worse for their bigotry. The simple answer is that both are an absolute disgrace, and these sorts of discriminatory and xenophobic prejudices should have no place in modern politics. But sadly it does.
Racism is nothing new, it has existed throughout human history. And racism is out there in society. Politicians are elected by the people, and yes there is a market for racist politics. The rise of the far right throughout much of Europe globally is evidence of this. But this doesn’t make it inevitable. The two main political parties in the UK need to show leadership and stand up to racism. Both May and Corbyn have come out against racist remarks made by party members. But in both cases, a stronger stance was needed much sooner. Not just by the leaders, but by all MPs and people in leadership roles. And most importantly by party members.
The UK is far from alone from having problems of racism in politics. But in the UK this issue has come to ahead in 2018. There is nothing good in what has come out, but this can be an opportunity for the political establishment in the UK to draw a line in the sand. If from this Labour and the Conservative’s to vow to take a much stronger stand against racism and bigotry within their parties, this would be a very positive development. Whether this happens remains to be seen…