In life, there is a saying you have to take the rough with the smooth, sometimes the rough can be a defeat. If you watch politics, you will have noticed Labour MSP’s plucky crusade on Islamophobia. Having been removed from the Health brief and also failing to become the leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, Anas set about building himself a platform to speak. Just as we had the McCarthy witch hunts in 1950’s in America, the new witch hunt for the modern times is the hunt for Islamophobia.
In the Labour Party, it isn’t always the thing to speak your mind, but I would say that many people think Anas Sarwar’s campaign on Islamophobia is pure bull shit. Because Anas Sarwar is seen as being ‘off on one’, he has shown why many people in the Labour Party refused to vote for him as leader.
Anas Sarwar’s campaign on Islamophobia is pure bull shit as observed by some people; his campaign said to be all about him gathering support by flagging up a problem which doesn’t really exist.
Here is a question; do you notice Anas Sarwar making the same effort about Anti-Semitism?
Join the club!
In the aftermath of losing a complaint against Labour Councillor Davie McLachlan, Anas has launched a damning attack on the Labour Party’s disciplinary process. Apparently his complaint had to wait 15 months to be dealt with before being thrown out. Although he has a legit gripe about the time taken, he doesn’t accept the result it seems. Anas Sarwar says he is “deeply hurt and demoralised” by the move and insisted he was “left with the sad impression that Islamophobia is one of the last acceptable forms of prejudice”.
Perhaps if he wasn’t crying wolf all the time; and being seen by some as using Islamophobia as a political vehicle for himself, he would be in a better place.
Anas Sarwar’s campaign on Islamophobia is pure bull shit.
The background to the complaint is that it was alleged last year that Councillor Davie McLachlan had told him "Scotland wouldn't vote for a brown, Muslim Paki". This was at the time of the Scottish Labour leadership contest which was a pretty nasty little affair. When he met with party bosses they insisted that he provide them with further details. David McLachlan, who had been leader of the Labour group on South Lanarkshire Council was suspended following the allegations which he, “categorically denied” making. Fast forward to yesterday and we see the case against McLachlan was dismissed at a meeting of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee (NCC) in Glasgow.
McLachlan said he had been “vindicated”.
But where does that leave Anas Sarwar?
Anas Sarwar is condemning the disciplinary process insisting he was only called as a witness four days before the hearing, and then barred from giving evidence because he had not given two weeks’ notice.
This statement seems strange, how can you be called as a witness then barred from giving evidence? It would seem that if there was a breach of process, then Anas Sarwar should take this up with Labour HQ in London.
In a lengthy statement, he said:
“Just five days ago I was expressing my delight that we had secured the support of political parties in Scotland for the adoption of the All-Party Parliamentary Group’s definition of Islamophobia. It was a landmark moment which demonstrated that Scotland was leading the way in the fight against Islamophobia. I am therefore devastated that it is my own party, the party of equality and with a proud anti-racist tradition; that has failed at the first test. When I made the decision in January 2018 to launch the campaign against everyday racism and Islamophobia and set up the Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia, I felt it was important to share my own experiences”
“As I said at the time, this was the most difficult decision that I had ever made in politics as it was the first time I was talking so openly about my own race and religion and highlighting my own difference. But I felt it was important to do that as it would hopefully encourage others to do the same, and through that open dialogue we could spark a national debate about everyday prejudice and how we could confront it. One of the examples I gave was of a council group leader telling me that ‘Scotland wouldn’t vote for a brown, Muslim Paki’. I didn’t disclose the name of the councillor in my interview. The Labour Party insisted that I disclose the name of the individual so that it could take action. I received many calls and emails encouraging me to do this including from the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and Deputy Leader, Lesley Laird, and from the Scottish General Secretary, Brian Roy.
"I disclosed the name to them and stressed at the time that this was not about any one individual or about one party, but about challenging a culture that was impacting people in playgrounds, college and university campuses and workplaces across the country. After 15 months of little or no communication or updates, I was notified by the Labour Party late in the afternoon last Thursday that the NCC hearing would be on Monday, April 29, at 11am – just four days later. I was asked if I could make myself available as a witness. I emailed back expressing my disappointment at the short notice and asking a number of questions about the process. I got a response back at 8.30am on Monday morning and all the relevant paperwork sent to me just before 9am for a hearing that was due to start at 11am”.
“When I arrived at the hearing I was informed by an NCC representative that I could not give evidence as I had not given the committee two weeks’ notice of my intention to appear as a witness. I was asked to leave and was unable to provide any evidence. The UK Labour NCC panel subsequently ruled that there was no case to answer without any verbal evidence being taken”.
“Given what I read in the paperwork that was produced for the NCC hearing and my experiences since raising this case and the circumstances of the NCC hearing day itself, I am left with the sad impression that Islamophobia is one of the last acceptable forms of prejudice. It is important that disciplinary processes are fair and transparent. But it’s now clear that the Labour Party’s disciplinary process is deeply flawed and not fit for purpose. It is not fair on either the complainant or the accused for the process to last 15 months. It is not transparent if witnesses are not adequately informed and then barred from providing evidence”.
“The UK Labour Party needs to provide a full explanation on its handling of this case, but more importantly it needs to understand the message that this sends about the party’s commitment to tackling Islamophobia and all forms of prejudice. It is ludicrous that complaints made in Scotland aren’t dealt with in Scotland. The Scottish Labour Party should be demanding that disciplinary matters are fully devolved to ensure that cases are dealt with efficiently, quickly and fairly here in Scotland. If even I, as a former deputy leader, interim leader, leadership candidate and Shadow Cabinet member, don’t believe I can get a fair hearing or adequate support from an institution like the Labour Party, then I am left wondering what chance those experiencing discrimination in other walks of life have”.
“This is why the work of the CPG and the campaign against racism and Islamophobia matters so much to me. This is painful, difficult, tiring, and at times lonely, but I feel a responsibility to keep going. I am very grateful for the messages of support I have received from colleagues and friends in the past 24 hours. I ask for your continued support and encouragement, because this is a fight for all of us.”
If there is any lessons to be learned here is that you shouldn’t place your trust in anyone you don’t trust. Anas Sarwar didn’t get a win, David McLachlan but I suspect the real bad PR will end up going to Labour’s NCC which is an allegedly autonomous, quasi-judicial body which is entirely independent of the party leadership.
A Labour Party spokesperson said:
"The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously, which are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken."
Finally, when I didn’t get a vote in the Labour Party candidate selection for Glasgow South West, I didn’t complain, because I knew that I would be wasting my time and energy. Since I didn’t get an opportunity to vote as a paid member, I felt no obligation to be an activist for the candidate. Anas Sarwar appears to have a legit gripe about how this hearing was run but his campaign on Islamophobia is pure bull shit because some people see it as a political vehicle for him to use as a platform since he was removed as shadow health sec by the Corbyn faction led by Richard Leonard.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University