Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, makes a speech at a campaign event in Rotherham.
by REENA KUMAR
LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he will prioritise tackling race inequality and injustice in British society if he is elected prime minister.
In an exclusive interview with Eastern Eye in Euston on Tuesday (6), just two days before the public were due to go to the polls and cast their votes, Corbyn declared that anti-racist campaigning had been “the story of my life”.
Corbyn said he wanted more funding for the Equalities and Human Rights Commission with a particular focus on race inequality. Labour would also look into making the British workforce more diverse and ensure there was greater representation of ethnic minorities in higher positions.
“There has got to be a specific attention made to race injustice and race inequality in our society. I would make that priority,” he said.
Setting out his plan to deal with the large pay gap experienced by black and Asian workers, Corbyn said he would ensure there were better opportunities for children in pre-school, nursery and primary school education, because of huge disparities of achievement due to lack of funding.
He told Eastern Eye: “We would have much stronger anti-discrimination legislation and we have put out for consideration the idea of blind name applications for jobs. There is evidence that people with Muslim or African names have to apply many more times for jobs than others.
“You challenge employers on the fairness of the (recruitment) process, the law begins to kick in once somebody has been shortlisted for a job. You have to be fairly treated and it has to be a reasonable appointment that takes place.”
The party leader said he would be happy to have conversations with both big and small employers about tackling the issue.
Since prime minister Theresa May called the snap election in April, the gruelling campaign trail has been halted on two occasions following the Manchester Arena suicide bombing which killed 23 adults and children, and last Saturday night’s (3) bloody rampage at London Bridge.
Youssef Zaghba, a 22-year-old Moroccan-Italian, Pakistan-born Khuram Butt, 27, and Rachid Redouane, 30, both from Barking, drove into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing people in the bustling Borough Market area.
It was Britain’s third Islamist attack in as many months. On dealing with home-grown radicalisation, Corbyn said extremist ideology had to be challenged.
He wants communities to be supported to root out extremism rather than being alienated through government schemes like Prevent.
Corbyn cited a recent UN report which warned of the dangers the strategy posed in “dividing, stigmatising and alienating” segments of the population. Labour would offer an alternative approach in the fight against extremism,” he said.
“It is crucial that we have a strategy which supports communities to root out extremism, rather than alienating those who are determined to do so. Labour’s review of Prevent will ensure we have a strategy which prevents radicalisation while giving our police and security services the resources they need to keep us safe,” Corbyn said.
Labour pledged to hire an additional 1,000 people to work at GCHQ, Secret Intelligence Service and MI5 to boost the UK’s capabilities against extremism and radicalisation. It also promised to provide 10,000 more police officers on the streets, and reverse the cuts to emergency services.
“Austerity has to stop at the A&E ward and at the police station door. We cannot be protected and cared for on the cheap… If the security services need more resources to keep track of those who wish to murder and maim, then they should get them,” Corbyn told Eastern Eye.
The Labour leader also said the party would change Britain’s role abroad. Corbyn highlighted the fact that security professionals had pointed to the connections between wars Britain has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism at home.
He said: “That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions. But an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people, and that fights rather than fuels terrorism.”
“The responsibility and fight against extremism is the responsibility of the government as well as all members of society. Labour will take whatever action is necessary to keep our country safe and to protect our people on our streets, in our towns and cities, and at our borders.”
He added: “You also have to look at ungoverned spaces in other parts of the world like Libya, Iraq and Syria and look at the funding of ISIS (Daesh).”
Corbyn also said that it was essential to look at the sales of arms to Saudi Arabia and terror funding in Gulf states which have fuelled extremist ideology.