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Stop the deselections says BAME Labour

Ahmad-ShahzadThe head of an organisation representing Labour’s Black and ethnic minority members has expressed exasperation at continuing deselection of sitting councillors

Ahmed Shahzad (pictured above), chair of BAME Labour, said he had been raising the issue at the highest levels of the party for the past few months. He is now taking the matter to the party’s ruling National Executive Committee.

His comments follow a call over the weekend by Tottenham MP David Lammy for an investigation into the ditching of Black councillors across London as candidates for next years’ local elections.

Operation Black Vote has also expressed concern, calling it an “ever increasing crisis within the London Labour party.”

Shahzad told OBV Blog today: ‘I am very much concerned about it, and have received several complaints from grassroots organisations and several BME councillors.

‘I have raised this with Number 10 and with the general-secretary’s office. I hope there will be a resolution to those problems.’

Shahzad had already written to the National Executive Committee (NEC), where BAME Labour has a seat held by Keith Vaz MP, but will be seeking to raise it as a formal item to be discussed.

Vaz was a leading member of the Labour Party Black Sections which campaigned for greater Black representation at town hall and national levels. Journalist Marc Wadsworth recently launched a booklet marking 25 years since the campaign began.

The latest deselections involve three Haringey councillors – Brian Haley, the local cabinet member for the environment; Jayanti Patel; and Sheik Thompson.

There have also been a spate of other deselections across London, including in the boroughs of Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham and Enfield.

By Lester Holloway

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4 Responses

  1. Too little too late- BAME Labour should have been monitoring this from the outset and raising concerns as and when arisen. Waiting until the de-selections occured and then running to the NEC shows that the finger is clearly not on the pulse and shows clearly once again minority issues are not being properly addressed by the partys echelon.

  2. It’s clearly a case of local parties “playing it safe” and going for the whiter options.

  3. Shahzad has not bothered communicating with BME members. The last I heard from BAME Labour was a conference in Leicester a couple of years ago. Then they rally the BME members for the Deputy Leadership campaign as their part in delivering the black vote to the Party hierarchy. Had we had a credible BAME Labour, Shahzad and other would be in touch with Ethnic Minorities Officers, have regular meetings, identify the issues and would have raised them with the Labour Party Leadership, NEC, London Region and so on. Shahzad and his ilk should hold their heads in shame. They are just as much part of the problem as the self-serving leaders of local branches and CLP’s.

  4. Incidentally, it’s easier to be a candidate to be a Member of Parliament or Local Council than to be an Executive Member of BAME Labour. When was the last time BAME Labour communicated with BME members, Ethnic Minorities Officers or Ethnic Minorities Forums. Ask any BME member who the Chair and Executive Committee for BAME Labour are and see what response you get. It goes back to the Leadership of the Labour Party at all levels. How to they account for a largely moribund BAME Labour against their Diversity and Equalities Policies and values?

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