A Labour Party leaflet distributed in Orford, Cheshire, for the 2021 local government election campaign promises that a Labour council would “deal with traveller incursions”. (Pictured below.)
For many opportunist Labour politicians, calling for harsh crackdowns on travellers can be seen as an easy – and still-respectable – means of getting votes from bigoted constituents. In 2019, another Labour front-bencher, Toby Perkins, published election leaflets that said that “Travellers were extorting thousands of pounds for leaving illegal settlements,” and that he was “disgusted” by this.
What is really disgusting is anti-traveller racism, and Labour appealing to the most intolerant, backwards sentiments for cheap applause. The Labour Party should stop doing it!
On 1 April, Labour MP for Warrington North and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Charlotte Nichols tweeted a series of pictures of herself out campaigning with this leaflet. Nichols, who worked as an unelected staffer for the trade union USDAW for five years between University and parliament, has promoted herself as a left-winger. She backed Rebecca Long-Bailey for Labour leader and the “Momentum Renewal” slate in the 2020 Momentum internal elections.
Nichols has responded to criticism of the leaflets on her Twitter account, claiming that she did not know what the word “incursion” meant.
We need to challenge the nationalist, socially reactionary agenda that is gaining round in the Labour Party, in the name of class solidarity, anti-racism and a struggle for social provision.