Monday, 5 March 2012

Formal complaint re: Steve Rotheram MP

Love Football, Hate Racism UK - Twitter: @LFHRUK

5 March 2012
Mr Ed Miliband MP
House of Commons
Open Letter, sent by email

Dear Mr Miliband,

I am writing to you with a formal complaint about a member of your party, Mr Steve Rotheram, MP.
As both a trade union and community activist I have campaigned against racism all my life. I am a member of the PCS Union National Executive Committee, the TUC Race Relations Committee and co-founder of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK, a national organisation established to campaign against the disproportionate impact of cuts on black workers, service users and communities, as well as a member of the Consortium of Liverpool and National Black and Minority Organisations.The Consortium has raised concerns about the handling of the Suarez and Evra affair through a letter to Liverpool Football Club and establishing the campaign Love Football Hate Racism. We established an online petition details of which you can access here:

The petition has four key demands as follows:
We the undersigned call on Liverpool Football Club to meet four key demands;
(1) Publicly accept the findings of the FA into the Suarez case.
(2) Liverpool FC and Luis Suarez to publicly apologize to Patrice Evra.
(3) In partnership with Liverpool and national black and minority ethnic organisations commit to and sponsor an international conference on the issue of eradicating racism in football.
(4) Together with civic leaders sign up to a public declaration reaffirming commitment to combating racism and promoting race equality through proactive actions.
On Friday 2nd of March 2012 some Liverpool fans tweeted their opposition and criticism of the petition and the authors of the petition and called on people to ‘educate’ us.
On the same day one of these individuals tweeted @ Steve Rotheram MP ‘Hi Steve I think you should look at the rather dodgy labelling of Liverpool city on this online petition’. He included a link to the petition and went on to tweet to Mr Rotheram, ‘it’s basically tarnishing both the city and LFC as racist. Dangerous’
Mr Rotherham tweeted in response also on the 2nd of March ‘Lads you can’t stop people intent on causing trouble from this sort of action other than ignoring them’
I have taken screen shots of both tweets should you require them. My complaint is about Mr Rotheram’s blatant disregard of the serious issue of racism and concerns raised about racism. Petitions are widely used tools in campaigning that are recognised, raise wider awareness of issues and can bring about positive results. The fact that Mr Rotheram regards me as someone who is intent on causing trouble by setting up a petition is of grave concern. By branding me and others involved in the campaign as trouble makers he is demonstrating that he does not see racism as an issue and if he has a different opinion does not believe in engaging, communicating and working to resolve issues.
I am concerned that as a member of parliament representing a diverse constituency he believes that anti racists and those who campaign against racism are intent on making trouble and believe that his expression of those views on a public forum such as Twitter bring the Labour Party and its values into disrepute and that he is acting irresponsibly as a member of Parliament. MPs are supposed to engage and take seriously the concerns of their constituents. Whilst I am not personally a constituent several members of the consortium and members of the communities they represent are residents in Liverpool the city that Mr Rotheram’s constituency is based in. Racism in football is a serious issue which must be tackled rather than ignored as Mr Rotheram has suggested. When discrimination is not addressed it empowers those who discriminate and leads to increased discrimination as we have seen recently with a rise in racism at football matches.
In addition to the petition already mentioned in this letter our campaign has submitted a petition aimed at government, which is currently awaiting approval, calling for a parliamentary debate on racism in football.
I am requesting that you raise my concerns with Mr Rotheram and seek an apology for his comments and call on him to engage with anti-racist organisations such as Love Football Hate Racism, Kick it Out, Show Racism the Red Card and others with a view to working to meet the aims of our petition and to campaign against racism in football, communities and society.
Yours sincerely,
Zita Holbourne
On behalf of the Consortium of Liverpool and National Black and Minority Organisations

Update: response from Steve Rotheram MP: