It’s being reported that Naz Shah MP will launch legal action against the Labour Party in an attempt to block the selection of Salma Yaqoob as Labour candidate for West Midlands Mayor.
Shah, who is Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, said on Twitter that Yaqoob had run a campaign against her for the Bradford parliamentary seat in 2017 that had left her feeling suicidal.
She said Yaqoob’s campaign incited hatred towards her and played into patriarchal and misogynistic stereotypes which targeted her personally. She said Yaqoob’s campaign questioned her “Muslimness,” “slut shamed” her, and even insulted her mother.
Shah also said that Yaqoob had stood against Labour in elections six times in the past and Labour had broken its own rules by fast-tracking her as a candidate. Yaqoob only joined Labour four months ago whereas potential candidates usually have to be members for at least two years.
Yaqoob ran as an independent candidate against Shah in Bradford West in 2017 and was defeated.
Two other groups of Labour MPs have also raised concerns about Yaqoob’s candidacy, with both the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and LGBT+ PLP writing separate letters to the party about Ms Yaqoob’s alleged behaviour.
The Women’s PLP wrote: “Ms Yaqoob’s campaign against Naz in the last general election should render her ineligible to hold party membership…it is, among other things, a disservice to her that the party might allow a woman who bullied and personally targeted her to represent us in an election.”
In their letter, the LGBT+ PLP accused Ms Yaqoob of homophobia, including allegedly referring to being LGBT as a “choice of lifestyle.”
Yaqoob is a prominent anti-war activist, whose candidacy has been backed by the influential pro Corbyn group Momentum as well as other figures close to the Labour leader.
On Monday evening Yaqoob, who is based in Birmingham, issued a statement on Twitter addressing the various allegations, which she described as either “false” or “seriously misleading.”
“I want to be clear that I stand in full solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and I am absolutely committed to confronting all forms of homophobia, bi-phobia and transphobia in our society,” she wrote.
In relation to her election campaign in Bradford West in 2017, Ms Yaqoob has previously said: “I did not run or endorse a campaign of misogyny, patriarchy and clan politics. Even as a political opponent I showed [Naz Shah] respect as a woman and a public figure.
“As Shadow Equalities and Women Minister, I would hope she would welcome the principle of women coming forward for political office – even those she disagrees with. I am saddened that she is lobbying nationally to limit the right of local Labour members to make their own choice by seeking to remove me from even a potential shortlist.”