Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to take unconscious bias training after receiving criticism for describing the Black Lives Matter protests as a “moment” during a BBC Breakfast interview last week.
During an appearance on LBC radio on Monday morning, the Labour leader was challenged by a black, female party member who called into the show to accuse him of "unconscious dismissive language and attitudes" that "feed into structural racism and unchallenged pervading elements of society".
Keir Starmer has:— Kerry-Anne Mendoza (@TheMendozaWoman) July 6, 2020
Failed to defend BAME Labour MPs from racist abuse
Kicked the anti-Black racism inquiry into the long grass
Called a central aim of #BlackLivesMatter “nonsense” & condemned pulling down Colston statue
“Unconscious bias” training won’t fix his Centrism.
Starmer explained to the listener that what he meant was that the Black Lives Matter movement “needs to be a defining moment,” and a “turning point,” not just a “fleeting moment”.
He told LBC, “I have to admit that if I'd actually put 'defining' into the 'moment' it might have been a lot easier, but that's what I meant”.
The caller challenged Starmer to take unconscious bias training to which he promised that it would be introduced to all Labour staff, adding “I’m going to lead from the top on this and do that training first”.
Very disappointing to hear @Keir_Starmer feels he needs "unconscious bias training" after calling out BLM on defunding the police policy. He should also have called them out on anti-semitism too. Instead he retreats at the first sign of pressure from the hard-left. What a pity.— Worcester Man (@WorcesterMan1) July 6, 2020
“I think everybody should have unconscious bias training. I think it is important. There is always the risk of unconscious bias and just saying ‘oh well it probably applies to other people, not me’ is not the right thing to do”, he said.
The listener said after “I absolutely applaud that and that was really what I was looking for - everyone should look into that”.
The Labour Party is also under fire due to a leaked report on antisemitism in its ranks, which revealed extracts of Whatsapp conversations between staff, including hostile comments about former shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbott.
The reported Whatsapp messages allegedly described Abbott as “truly repulsive” and a “very angry woman”. The report also revealed that Dawn Butler’s appointment to the shadow cabinet and Clive Lewis, the shadow business secretary, were negatively commented on by staff.
The Labour Party has since appointed a panel to investigate the content of the leaked report. Starmer has said he will not comment on it until the results are in.