Labour accuses Priti Patel of ‘gaslighting’ Black Lives Matter protesters

Home secretary Priti Patel in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Home secretary Priti Patel in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV. - Credit: Archant

Labour has accused Priti Patel of using her Indian heritage to undermine concerns that Black Lives Matters protesters have about racism in this country.

Around 33 Labour MPs wrote a letter to the home secretary accusing her of 'gaslighting' the protesters with her own experiences of prejudice.

The letter came as Patel is accused of 'silencing' Labour MP Florence Eshalomi who called on the government to do more to combat discrimination.

In an exchange in the Commons on Monday, Eshalomi asked the home secretary had to 'act now' to resolve 'structural inequality, discrimination and racism' members of community have faced.

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Responding, Patel said she would not 'take lectures' on the issue of racism, sexism, and tolerance from opposition MPs.

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But, shadow minister Naz Shah and Labour representatives Diane Abbott, Tan Dhesi and Rosena Allin-Khan, have questioned her motives.

'We write to you as black, Asian and ethnic minority Labour MPs to highlight our dismay at the way you used your heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by black people and communities across the UK,' they said.

'Our shared experiences allow us to feel the pain that communities feel, when they face racism, they allow us to show solidarity towards a common cause; they do not allow us to define, silence or impede on the feelings that other minority groups may face.

'Being a person of colour does not automatically make you an authority on all forms of racism.'

Gaslighting refers to the act of psychologically manipulating someone to doubt their own experiences.

Patel published the letter on Twitter saying she was 'sad' to have received it.

'I will not be silenced by @UKLabour MPs who continue to dismiss the contributions of those who don't conform to their view of how ethnic minorities should behave,' she wrote.

Patel received support from fellow BAME Tory MP James Cleverly who wrote on Twitter: 'BAME Labour MPs tell Priti Patel to stop disagreeing with them. They champion diversity of race in politics but not diversity of option.'

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