• Monday, April 15, 2024

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Katharine Birbalsingh accuses Labour MP of racism

Jess Phillips is the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley

FILE PHOTO: Katharine Birbalsingh arrives at the BBC studios in central London on January 29, 2023. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

THE former chairwoman of the Social Mobility Commission, Katharine Birbalsingh, has accused a Labour MP of ‘racist and bullying behaviour’, reports said.

The head teacher of Michaela Community School in northwest London, Birbalsingh alleged that her race urged Jess Phillips MP to ‘whip up a social media mob’ against her, The Times reported.

She published an open letter to Sir Keir Starmer after a string of exchanges on Twitter with Phillips, the MP for Birmingham Yardley and shadow Home Office minister.

Birbalsingh wrote, “Her behaviour is a clear example of ‘unconscious bias’. I mean that she hates me, despite not knowing me, because she subscribes to the idea that black and Asian individuals in public life owe a duty to voice opinions that match with a left-wing view of the world, or they are worthy of her contempt.”

According to the head teacher, the row started after she inadvertently tweeted a picture of Tina Turner alongside her abusive former husband Ike Turner amid tributes to the late star.

Phillips then tweeted: “Hold the line!” and added: “Stay with me! Domestic abuse is never OK and we will defeat those who prop up the status quo.”

Later, Birbalsingh deleted the tweet, then posted: “To the lunatics accusing me of celebrating wife beating – I tweeted a gif with a number of photos of Tina.

“For some reason it rested on one photo which I didn’t notice when I tweeted… nor did I know that was Ike.”

She added, “the explanation is not that I like wife beating”.

In response, Phillips wrote on Twitter: “Seems that far from holding any kind of line that headteacher woman seems not to be able to take criticism of her actions. I’d be keen to hear of domestic abuse policies she has in her school or teaching plans, perhaps I’ll write.”

Birbalsingh claimed that Phillips’s tweets were followed by “a deluge” of abuse.

The educator also claimed that after Phillips’ tweets, people contacted her institution saying it was ‘unsafe for female teachers and pupils’.

She added that a request had been made to the Teaching Regulation Agency, urging for her removal from the post.

While responding to these ‘war of words’, Sunder Katwala, the director of the British Future think tank, said, “It is not in any way a defensible position that public figures with large followings cannot criticise other public figures. The allegations about racism or racist bullying require very extensive leaps of logic and responsibility and seem unjustified to me.”

Meanwhile, Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, has defended Phillips saying that ‘she is not a racist’.

“As members of parliament, we’re also subject to a code of conduct . . . and there are processes in place for people who are unhappy with an MP’s behaviour, to report it in that way. I think it’s important that, if people have concerns, if they’re unhappy about the conduct, that can be investigated as part of that process,” she told Sky News.

In April, Birbalsingh faced criticism for asserting that girls are less inclined to opt for physics at the A-level as it involves hard maths. She subsequently acknowledged that her comments had been poorly expressed, describing them as ‘clunky’.

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