Labour party vows to teach British colonial history

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party vows to teach Britain’s colonial history in schools in their race and faith manifesto.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn poses with fellow politicians at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in London, Britain. (Reuters Photo)

The UK’s Labour Party on Tuesday unveiled an add-on manifesto for the December 12 General Election which pledges to set up a new educational trust that would ensure that Britain’s colonial history and injustices of the Raj are taught in schools across the country.

The party's ‘Race and Faith Manifesto’ comes in the wake of its main manifesto last week, which had pledged to issue a formal apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar by troops under the British Empire in April 1919.

“The creation of an Emancipation Educational Trust will ensure historical injustice, colonialism and role of the British empire is taught in the National Curriculum,” notes the supplementary manifesto.

“Only by acknowledging the historical injustices faced by our communities can we work towards a better future that is prosperous for all, that isn’t blighted by austerity and the politics of fear,” said Dawn Butler, Labour’s Shadow Equalities and Women’s Secretary.

Currently the history of the British Empire is not a compulsory module in the UK school curriculum, an issue often highlighted by campaigners as a failure to present an accurate picture of the country’s history for school children.

“It is important that children are taught about colonialism, injustice and the role of the British Empire. This is a major step that meets our long-standing demands,” said Harsev Bains, National Vice-President of the Indian Workers Association of Great Britain (IWA-GB), one of the oldest Indian workers’ groups in the UK.

“On behalf of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Centenary Committee (JBMCC) consisting of Indians, Pakistani and Bangladeshi organisations in Britain led by the IWA GB, we also welcome the inclusion of a formal apology for the massacre in Amritsar,” said Bains, a member of the committee set up to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy that affected thousands of lives.

Labour's 'Race and Faith Manifesto', launched by party leader Jeremy Corbyn in London, also pledges to extend the gender pay gap reporting to minority ethnic groups to tackle pay discrimination based on race.

It seeks to set up a Race Equality Unit based within the UK's Treasury department, which would review major spending announcements for its impact on minorities if it wins the elections next month.

“Our Race and Faith Manifesto presents our unshakable commitment to challenge the inequalities and discrimination that has faced to many communities,” said Corbyn.

However, the manifesto was met with an expected attack from the ruling Conservative Party for one of the documents many pledges, to end “rip-off charges” for passports, visas, tests and other documentation imposed by the UK Home Office.

“Not charging people who want to come to the country for visa and immigration services means UK taxpayers will have to pay instead. The bill will be more than 1.5 billion pounds – money that could otherwise be spent on schools and hospitals,” said UK home secretary Priti Patel.

The Indian-origin Tory minister also accused Labour of "rampant" anti semitism in its ranks, as the party continues to battle allegations of being anti-Jewish.

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