More than half of Muslim members of the Labour party do not trust Keir Starmer to tackle Islamophobia, with nearly the same proportion saying they do not have confidence in the party’s complaints process, a new poll has found.
The report by the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) is the latest sign that the party’s new leadership is losing the trust of minority ethnic members and supporters, even as it struggles to recover from an antisemitism crisis that led to a collapse in support from Jewish voters.
The findings echo complaints aired earlier this year by members of the party’s own black and minority ethnic staff network that there is a perception of a “hierarchy of racism” within the party, wherein some forms of racism are regarded as more serious than others.
A survey of 422 Muslim members or supporters of the party found that nearly six in 10 – 59% – did not feel “well represented by the leadership of the Labour party”, and nearly half – 44% – did not believe the party takes the issue of Islamophobia seriously.
It found 55% did not “trust the leadership of the Labour party to tackle Islamophobia effectively” and 48% did not have confidence in the party’s complaints procedure to deal with Islamophobia.
Issues raised included concerns over examples of Islamophobia highlighted in the leaked report into Labour’s governance and legal unit, the party’s approach to the government’s anti-radicalisation Prevent strategy, and general anxiety over how the party’s approach to Palestine would change under the new leadership.
Keir Starmer and his deputy, Angela Rayner, said they would work with the Labour Muslim Network to implement its recommendations.
One Labour supporter quoted in the report said: “Like in most institutions within the UK, as a Muslim it often feels as though we are towards the bottom of the list when it comes to human rights, being respected and having our best interests heard/advocated. It feels as though within all institutions within the UK it has become increasingly acceptable to condemn and even abuse Muslims.”
A Labour source told the Guardian that there was significant concern within the party over the way that Islamophobia complaints are handled, with no code of conduct for dealing with Islamophobia comparable to that which has been put in place for dealing with antisemitism. As a result, high-profile cases, such as that of Trevor Phillips, suspended by the party in March over allegations of Islamophobia, are still in limbo.
The source said that the party had changed its processes around antisemitism following scrutiny from the media: “But such a thing doesn’t exist with Islamophobia. Also, other parties are significantly worse. The Tories are just off the charts with Islamophobia, as well as antisemitism.”
An LMN spokesperson said the findings of its report were deeply concerning and called on Labour to take “comprehensive action” on the racism experienced by Muslims in the party.
A statement provided by Labour and attributed to Starmer and his deputy, Angela Rayner, did not address the issues raised with leadership, but said they would work with LMN to implement its recommendations.
It said: “We thank Labour Muslim Network for this important report, as well as their work to ensure our Muslim members are represented, included and heard. Islamophobia has no place in our party or society and we are committed to rooting it out.”