Workplace racism and discrimination are more talked about now than they have ever been in recent memory. There exists a plethora of organisations and institutions whose purpose it is to draw our attention to racism at work, often shining light to reveal discrimination in places we did not expect. One place that we may not expect to find racism is in the civilised chambers of Whitehall.
2019 saw the highest number of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) MPs elected to parliament. This means that Westminster now has 65 BME MPs. However, despite this historically diverse field many BME MPs and parliamentary workers still feel as though they suffer from racial discrimination.
In an interview for ITV Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West, recounted an incident where she was told whilst working in parliament that she should “go home”. In a similar and equally disturbing event, Afzal Khan, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, was told to “go back to Pakistan”. In the same ITV interview Tullip Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, recalled an exchange she had with a colleague in which her fellow member of parliament had implied that Asian families are more likely to kill their female children than families of other ethnicities.
A recent report commissioned by ParliREACH, a workplace equality network that was set up to provide a forum for BME people who work in parliament, found numerous examples of racial discrimination within Westminster’s halls.