Blog News

Newsletter – August 2017

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.



Abroad …


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 …

CAC Elections

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.


Chika Amadi

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.


Yours faithfully,

Samuel Fawcett

Social Media and Website Editor



Announcement of New Chair

We are proud to announce that Joan Smith is the new Chair of Labour Humanists! Following on from the excellent work of Naomi Phillips, Joan will be taking our grBylinePicoup forward, working for humanist causes and to get us recognised as an affiliate of the Labour Party.

Joan is perhaps best known for her book Misogynies and her crime novels. A dedicated feminist, republican and humanist, Joan has written and campaigned extensively for a more equal and just society. She has had columns published in the Guardian, The Times, the Independent and Tribune. She chaired the English PEN Writers in prison Committee for four years and is currently Co-Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women & Girls Board.

We are living in a period of political and religious extremism, and we believe humanist values are needed now more than ever. We are delighted that Joan has chosen to lead Labour Humanists forward at this critical time.


Blog News Uncategorized

Clive Lewis MP to Chair All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group

We are delighted that Labour MP Clive Lewis will take over as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG). We thank outgoing chair Lord Warner, who had led the group since 2010.

Clive is the new MP for Norwich South.

The APPHG brings together over 100 humanist MPs and Peers from across the parties in Parliament and is supported by the British Humanist Association (BHA). The APPHG has covered issues such as inclusive education, human rights including freedoms of belief and expression, equal marriage, teaching evolution in schools, calling out and opposing religious privilege, human fertilisation and embryology, stem cell research, secular public services and much more.

The APPHG has regular meetings and its members raise key secularist and humanist issues in both Houses of Parliament through debates, questions and amendments to legislation. Labour Humanists will continue to work to support Labour MPs and Peers, working constructively and collaboratively with humanists from other political parties and affiliations for our shared aims.

Blog News

Surveying Labour candidates ahead of the General Election

We are writing to Labour parliamentary candidates ahead of the General Election, asking them to answer 10 questions (below).

This is to give our members and the wider Labour electorate more information about their Labour candidates and their perspectives on some issues that matter to them, such as education, human rights and constitutional reform.

If you have been in touch with your Labour candidate yourself about issues such as faith schools, do consider sharing that information with us.

Candidate survey, General Election 2015

  1. Do you support fully inclusive admissions with no religious selection in all state-funded schools, including faith schools?
  2. Do you support the teaching of non-religious world views such as Humanism equally alongside religious perspectives in schools?
  3. Would you support moves to prevent state-funded faith schools from hiring and firing otherwise qualified teachers on religious grounds?
  4. Would you support legislation to ensure that humanists in England and Wales will be able to have a legal marriage ceremony that reflects their own beliefs conducted by a celebrant who also shares them? (Humanist marriage has been legally recognised in Scotland since 2005).
  5. Do you support an end to having reserved seats for Church of England Bishops in the House of Lords?
  6. Should Labour defend freedoms of thought, expression and belief at home and internationally, including through opposing blasphemy laws?
  7. Do you think public services should be equal, inclusive, and protect and promote human rights, including when they are provided by religious groups working under public contract?
  8. Would you support a change in the law to permit assisted dying for people who are terminally ill or who are permanently and incurably suffering, who have who have made a clear decision, free from coercion, to end their lives and who are physically unable to do so themselves?
  9. Do you believe the NHS should fund unproven alternative “treatments” such as homeopathy?
  10. Following the General Election, would you consider joining the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group?