Thank you so much for your continued support over the years. We are pleased to announce Labour Humanists membership is growing steadily, and we have over 3,000 followers on Twitter. As we continue to expand our support base in influence within the party, we’re happy to launch the first of our new monthly newsletters covering Humanist and progressive issues at home, in the party, and abroad. As ever, we are always keen to hear from our members, so feel free to contact us with any suggestions you’d like to add.
At Home …
DfE research shows mixed schools perform better than segregated counterparts
A study conducted by the Department for Education into schooling in Oldham, one of the areas that saw race riots in 2001, has demonstrated that pupils at mixed schools perform better than their counterparts at schools that select pupils by their faith. According to the report, pupils in mixed schools have a better view of other races and religions, as well as a more positive outlook in general, that is beneficial to intergroup relations. Campaigning against faith schools has always been a key issue for Labour Humanists, and we believe that Tory plans to expand them pose a grave threat to social cohesion and tolerance as well as to the quality of education for pupils in these schools.
Labour Shadow Minister resigns over disputed article on “political correctness” in child sexual exploitation enquiry
Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham, resigned as Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities following an article she wrote for The Sun where she claimed “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”, and that authorities are afraid of tackling child sexual exploitation rings through a fear of being called racist. Champion suggested that we should be questioning whether there are “cultural issues” around the sexual exploitation of women and girls, and “this isn’t racist, this is child protection”. However, she soon distanced herself from the published article by accusing the paper’s editors of altering the opening paragraphs thus losing the “nuance” of her argument. The Sun denied this. Nevertheless, fellow Labour MP Naz Shah and many other MPs called on Jeremy Corbyn to sack Champion. Instead Champion resigned, stating “I apologise for the offence caused by the extremely poor choice of words in The Sun … I am concerned that my continued position in the shadow cabinet would distract from the crucial issues around child protection which I have campaigned on my entire political career”.
Do you think Champion was right to resign? Let us know in the comments section!
Modern slavery “in every UK town and city”
The BBC reports the National Crime Agency has stated that modern slavery is “far more prevalent than previously thought”, and previous estimates of 10,000–13,000 cases are just “the tip of the iceberg”. The most common form of modern slavery is still sexual exploitation, but evidence of the practice is found across sectors, from food processing, to construction, to care workers. Indeed, the NCA estimates that “ordinary people unwittingly come into contact with victims every day”.
CCTV to become compulsory in English abattoirs
While welcoming this move, Labour Humanists urge the government to also look at the welfare of animals condemned to ritual slaughter. Humanists UK have shown that approximately 650,000 animals a week are slaughtered without being stunned beforehand. We believe that the right of animals to a humane as possible slaughter takes precedence over religious teachings. At the very least, meat packaging should clearly indicate whether the animal in question was killed without being pre-stunned.
Needless to say, we were all horrified by the far-right violence in Charlottesville and the death of anti-racist protester Heather Heyer on 19th August. The resurgence of morally and intellectually bankrupt notions such as scientific racism and anti-Semitism among a section of the American Right is of deep concern, especially given the easy transmission of such propaganda through social media. It is very disappointing, to say the least, that President Trump stopped short of explicitly condemning the far-right and their actions, and that Nigel Farage defended Trump’s weak Tweets and alarming statements.
The Independent reports on women in Afghanistan launching the #WhereIsMyName campaign in protest at the Afghan custom of erasing women’s names. According to this patriarchal custom, women’s forenames do not appear on their birth certificate, wedding invitations or even gravestones. Instead, they are written as the mother/sister/daughter of Mr X. A member of the campaign, Batool Mohammadi, recounts: “I went to a private bank office to fill up the form, when the manager asked my mother’s name, I paused for few seconds, because I had actually forgotten my mother’s name. Nobody in all these years asked or called her by her name.”
“Don’t mess with my outfit”
Turkish women took to the streets to protest against increasing physical and verbal threats and violence perpetrated against them for their choice of clothing. Bearing signs “don’t mess with my outfit” as well as carrying denim shorts on hangers, the women were railing against conservative attitudes towards dress codes, which they say have been reinforced by President Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted party and policies.
Party news …
There is still time for members to vote in the Conference Arrangements Committee elections. Labour Humanists is not a factional grouping, and we welcome supporters from across the party in our efforts to increase the voice of humanism in Labour policy. As such, we are not backing a slate in the elections. However, we do ask supporters to consider voting for Michael Cashman, who is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG) and an associate of the National Secular Society.
Labour Humanists are pleased to see the party has taken quick action in suspending Labour councillor Chika Amadi after her unacceptable comments on homosexuality. Amadi’s comments are deeply hurtful to LGBT people in and outside the party, and further comments from Amadi supporting FGM have since surfaced. We welcome the suspension, and urge the party to ensure stringent vetting of candidates whose views do not align with progressive values and could bring the party into disrepute.
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