Keir Starmer Pledges – Challenge Motions – Pledge 9 – Equality

January 25, 2021

Northern England Labour Left (NELL) intends to hold the Party Leadership to account. Our members have produced a number of motions for use in Branch and Constituency Labour Parties that challenge Keir Starmer to follow the pledges he made during his Leadership campaign. They can be adapted over time as required. This motion has been passed by at least one CLP.

This CLP NOTES Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign pledge on equality which states:

“Pull down obstacles that limit opportunities and talent.  We are the party of the Equal Pay Act, Sure Start, BAME representation, and the abolition of Section 28 – we must build on that for a new decade.”  

Keir Starmer has since stated that priorities for Labour’s manifesto will not be decided until nearer the next general election (BBC interview 1/10/20) and there have been no policy commitments that would enable the pulling down of obstacles limiting opportunities and talent – not withstanding mention of a new Race Equality Act arising from the Doreen Lawrence Report without any discussion of its content.

This CLP further NOTES the following serious obstacles that are not just limiting people’s opportunities, but destroying them:

1.   The COVID pandemic that has exposed society’s deep structural inequalities and discrimination affecting women, BAME people, disabled people and LGBT+ people;

2.   Austerity, scapegoating and the creation of pernicious hostile environments that have battered equality gains back to before the 2010 Equality Act; 

3.   Organisations and movements of those directly affected by structural and systemic sexism, racism, disablism and homo and transphobia, (such as Women’s Aid, Black Lives Matter, Disabled People Against the Cuts, Stonewall and helplines and domestic abuse campaigns) have fought to keep these issues on the political agenda while themselves facing funding cuts and hostility.

4.   Issues have arisen since Keir Starmer became Labour Leader where the absence of action by him has reinforced obstacles e.g. belittlement of Black Lives Matter; no strong position against racist deportation charter flights or against police disproportionate stop and searches of Black people highlighted by Black Lives Matter; silence on Palestine Solidarity Day; disabled people’s key document on Independent Living not supported by Vicky Foxcroft (Disability Shadow Minister) at a meeting with Disability Labour in September 2019 despite Keir Starmer supporting it in February 2019, and a failure to address the discrimination faced by Labour’s own disabled members with inaccessible meetings. 

5.   In addition there are the issues of job losses and lack of child care that disproportionately affect women, including BAME women, who are overrepresented in the sectors hardest hit by the COVID crisis (health, care, hospitality, leisure and retail).

6.   In promoting the Labour Party as ‘the party of the family’ Keir Starmer has not defined what he means by ‘family’, when historically this term has meant the white, nuclear,  heterosexual, able-bodied family and he has ignored the role of the British state in tearing apart Black families most recently in the charter deportations.


1.   All these issues must be prioritised now by Keir Starmer, Women and Equalities Shadow Minister Marsha de Cordova, and Disabled People’s Shadow Minister Vicky Foxcroft and the Labour Shadow Cabinet if Labour is to be able to pull down obstacles to equality.

2.   The considerable enthusiasm in CLPs to establish Women’s, BAME, Disabled and LGBT+ Branches can assist the Party in tackling these issues.

This CLP RESOLVES that the CLP Secretary should write to the Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer, Women and Equalities Shadow Minister Marsha de Cordova, and Disabled People’s Shadow Minister Vicky Foxcroft to demand that they –

1.    Make a public commitment now to tackling the above issues, as in 2. below, and that this includes involving the organisations of those who are directly affected;

2.    Produce a time framed equality action plan laying out how this will be done including the proposed Race Equality Act and legislative commitments to other equality issues. The Equality Action Plan should include support for positive action to tackle all forms of discrimination and equality proofing of all Labour’s policies;

3.    Expedite the production of guidance for the establishment of internal Party equality branches.