The LRC condemns the statement made by Labour MP Jack Straw that “there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men… who target vulnerable young white girls … who they think are easy meat”.
We call on the Labour leadership and the whole labour movement to disown Straw’s disgraceful comments. We also call on the NEC to open an inquiry into whether Straw should be allowed to continue as a Labour MP and party member.
It is obvious that the crimes committed by these men were heinous, but the fact is there is no statistical evidence to support Jack Straw’s statements.
Straw has clearly failed to examine all the evidence, which would contradict his assertions. He also used incredibly provocative language in doing so, which made his statement all the more inflammatory.
To make matters worse, his comments were made in the run-up to the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, following the despatching of Phil Woolas – whose own racist comments brought shame upon the Labour Party, and which were condemned by the LRC and many others.
It is deeply problematic that there appears to be an acceptance of casual racism in the Parliamentary Labour Party – where Woolas was defended. There has also been little condemnation by the PLP of Jack Straw’s comments.
While it is important that politicians are able to address controversial issues, this should be based on facts and rational debate, not prejudice and hyperbole.
There is of course a more important need to tackle the underlying issue of violence against women. This requires significant cultural and political change in all communities.
We call on all labour movement bodies to support our call for the NEC to investigate Jack Straw’s comments to determine whether he has brought the Party into disrepute.