Majority of MPs from BAME backgrounds experience racism at Westminster

17 February 2020, 18:25

MPs from across the Commons said they had experienced racism or racial profiling
MPs from across the Commons said they had experienced racism or racial profiling. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Most MPs from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have experienced racism at Westminster, an investigation has found.

Just over half of those asked in the research said they had also experienced racism or racial profiling from fellow MPs.

The ITV News survey asked all 65 BAME parliamentarians about their experiences in and around the Commons, with 62 per cent of the 37 respondents confirming they had received racially-based abuse or profiling.

Almost all of those who responded (92 per cent) claimed their ethnicity had made it more difficult to become an MP, with four-fifths adding that it had made their work as an MP more challenging.

Most who answered the survey said they had also experienced racism from members of the public.

MPs from across the political spectrum were asked for their insight by ITV, which will be shown by the broadcaster on Monday evening.

Dawn Butler said she was once escorted by police out of Parliament's members' tea room
Dawn Butler said she was once escorted by police out of Parliament's members' tea room. Picture: PA

Deputy Labour leader candidate Dawn Butler explained that she was once escorted by police out of Parliament's members' tea room.

"A police officer came to physically escort me out of the members' tea room even though he was told I was a Member of Parliament. He later sent me a written apology," she said.

Fellow Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, of Bangladeshi descent, described an example of racial profiling she experienced while pregnant.

Ms Siddiq said she told a colleague she was expecting a child and was met with surprise that she was having a girl because her colleague thought Asian people were more likely to abort baby girls.

She said: "Speaking to a colleague of mine, she looked at me in astonishment and said, 'You know you're having a girl because normally they don't tell people of Asian origin they're having a girl because you know, then Asian people decide...' I looked at her and I couldn't believe what she was saying."

Layla Moran said the abusive comments were "hurtful and horrible"
Layla Moran said the abusive comments were "hurtful and horrible". Picture: PA

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who has a Palestinian background, said that the abusive comments are "hurtful and horrible."

"Whenever I mention anything to do with my background or ethnicity that comes back and you immediately get that torrent of people who want to tear you down," said Ms Moran.

"The comments about going home come to me a lot. It is really hurtful and horrible. You learn to wear an armoured jacket so you don't listen to it. I've got as much right to be here as anyone else."

Labour's Afzal Khan also highlighted the abuse that he receives on social media.

He said: "You get loads of tweets saying, 'You're drumming on about Muslims. There is a simple solution, go back to Pakistan...' There is a licence now to challenge people's right to be here. For over 50-plus years I've been here, this is my country, everything I have, everything I want to give back is to this country."

Another MP, who chose to speak anonymously, said that they had been spat at on the street due to their religious beliefs.

Responding to the report, a spokesman for the House of Commons said: "It is unacceptable that some MPs have experienced racism, and we are particularly concerned to hear of instances occurring on the Parliamentary estate.

"We are committed to taking any necessary steps to ensure this does not happen in future."

Comments

Loading...

Happening Now