A Muslim councillor says she has been dumped by the party because it has a problem with outspoken ethnic minority women
Amina Lone, a Manchester councillor and former parliamentary candidate, said she felt she had been deselected from her council seat and told she could not stand in next year’s elections “as a punishment for speaking out and as a warning to others not to speak out”.
She said: “So many black and minority ethnic women in the Labour Party are terrified. The silencing is so acute, the fear is so acute. I’m the only one that’s speaking publicly and I’ve been warned a lot this year.”
Lone, who is of Kashmiri heritage, spoke out last week in defence of Sarah Champion, the Rotherham MP forced to resign from the shadow cabinet after saying Britain “has a problem with British-Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”. Champion said yesterday she was “really sorry” at Lone’s ousting.
Lone is a campaigner against fundamentalism and misogyny among Muslims, co-authoring a letter to The Sunday Times in June warning about “a strain of extremism that is a toxic masculinity”.
She has criticised Labour for indulging separatism and for holding meetings where women and men were segregated.
Her deselection, which emerged on Friday, was officially because she did not attend enough council meetings. However, she said that during the “very short period” when she was accused of absenteeism she had been working on the EU referendum campaign and was recovering from a fire that wrecked her home. Another, white, councillor with a similar attendance record was not deselected, she said.
Other ethnic minority female councillors have complained of being targeted. In Oldham, Arooj Shah, a local rising star, claimed she had endured years of harassment from a “minority of venomous Asian men” after being elected in 2012.
Shah said influential Pakistani Labour members spread rumours about her and that any male councillor who supported her was said to be her lover. After she spoke publicly about the bullying, a former vice-chairman of the local constituency Labour Party, Aftab Hussain, stood as an independent against her and defeated her at last year’s elections.
Lone’s deselection has been linked to faction fighting in the Manchester Labour Party. She said: “I think it’s about power. Lots of male so-called ‘community leaders’ can promise the votes of a community. Women can’t. It looks like Labour’s only interested in BME [black and minority ethnic] councillors if they can deliver votes in a wholesale way.”
The Labour Party said: “The process for selecting local government candidates is clear and outlined in the party’s rulebook, including the right to an appeal with the regional board. We conduct a fair and rigorous appeals process with members from outside the area.”