Starmer not easily accessible, says adviser on race Baroness Lawrence

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, who advices Starmer on race relations, claims the Labour leader is surrounded by too many ‘gatekeepers’

File photo of Doreen Lawrence leaving the Royal Courts of Justice on March 27, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Belinda Jiao/Getty Images)

Shajil Kumar

While opinion polls may favour the Labour Party and its leader Kier Starmer, there is disquiet among some party members over his functioning.

The latest to do so is Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, who advices Starmer on race relations, The Times reports.

At a recent private meeting of Labour’s ethnic minority MPs and peers, she lamented that Starmer was not listening to her and that the party’s relationship with black voters was deteriorating.

She complained that ‘gatekeepers’ around Starmer prevented free access and he should spend more time with diverse communities and black churches.

She said black and ethnic minority voters have numerous complaints against the party leadership, and she does not how to respond.

The Baroness wondered why the party decided to scale back a conference last month at which Starmer was to unveil plans for new race equality legislation.

The private meeting was also attended by Sue Gray, Starmer’s chief of staff, and senior shadow cabinet ministers David Lammy, Shabana Mahmood, and Thangam Debbonaire.

Lawrence, however, clarified that her ties with Starmer continue to be close and she does not doubt his commitment to fighting racism.

She observed that she would always push the party to do more in fighting racism.

The Baroness is also upset that Starmer had failed to restore the whip to Diane Abbott.

Labour party had suspended Britain’s first black female MP, because of her observation that Jewish people did not suffer racism, but prejudice akin to mockery of people with peculiar hair.

Abbott later apologised but is still barred from sitting as a Labour MP.

Starmer has refused to restore the whip to Abbott, and claims he does not want to intervene in the disciplinary process.

The baroness enjoys close ties with Starmer as she considers him instrumental in securing justice for her family after her son died of a hate crime in 1993.