7 Labour Councillors quit party over Faiza Shaheen deselection and ‘institutional racism’

"This purging of loyal members in favour of subservient candidates reflects a party more concerned with power than principles."

Faiza Shaheen

The row over Labour’s last minute deselection of general election candidates continues to rumble on. In a new development, seven Labour Councillors in Slough have quit the party over, among other things, the decision to block Faiza Shaheen from standing as a Labour candidate.

In a letter published on June 3, the seven Councillors cite a number of reasons for their decision including concerns over the democratic processes in the Labour Party. They go on to write that the deselection of Shaheen and the treatment of Diane Abbott “highlight the institutional racism within the party”.

They added: “This purging of loyal members in favour of subservient candidates reflects a party more concerned with power than principles. Slough [Constituency Labour Party], predominantly composed of BAME members, has faced threads of deselection for speaking out against injustices in Gaza and criticising Israel.”

Their letter concludes by saying: “We have exhausted every party mechanism to ensure our residents’ concerns were heard at both local and national levels. In light of these insurmountable barriers, we, the rank-and-file members, are left with no option but to resign. We must stay true to our values and conscience, even if the party we once believed in has abandoned them.”

The seven Councillors who have quit the party are: Zaffar Ajaib, Sabia Akram, Haqeeq Dar, Mohammed Nazir, Naveeda Qaseeum, Waqas Sabah and Jamila Sabah.

Responding to the letter, Slough’s Labour candidate Tan Dhesi told the Slough Observer: “It’s very strange that some of them were out canvassing with me recently, including over the last two days and didn’t raise any such grievances.”

Shaheen was blocked as standing a Labour candidate in Chingford and Woodford Green after a panel of Labour’s National Executive Committee reviewed 14 tweets she had either liked or posted herself. Dating back to 2014, these included her liking tweets from Green Party politicians before she was a Labour Party member, her discussing her experiences of Islamophobia in the Labour Party, and her liking tweets about Israel.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

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