Labour accused of Islamophobia after candidates de-selected in Tower Hamlets

Labour Party. Editorial credit: chrisdorney / Shutterstock.com

The Labour Party has been again accused of Islamophobia after three Muslims were informed that they would be removed as council candidates in Tower Hamlets.

The candidates were put up by the Labour Party in the following three wards – Blackwall and Cubitt Town, Bethnal Green West (St. Peters), and Whitechapel, but were removed on March 6 apparently without explanation.

This has led to accusations that they were discriminated against and targeted because of their Muslim background; and that the interview process (and particularly the questions they were asked) was culturally insensitive and Islamophobic.

The three candidates have until March 20 to appeal.

A motion has been put in by existing Muslim councillors, proposed by Cllr Puru Miah, asking for an investigation as to whether the local party leadership has breached the Labour Party Islamophobia Code of Conduct.

The motion asks for a reversal of the decisions, arguing the treatment and singling out of the three Muslim candidates by the party leadership is a prima facie case of Islamophobia.

The motion by the Tower Hamlets Labour Group said that:

  • The three Muslim candidates were reinterviewed, without any prior explanation, and have been recommended for removal, again with no explanation given.
  • There are serious concerns of cultural insensitivity and Islamophobia in regards to the way the interviews were conducted, including an allegation that an event held to celebrate the work of the Anti Apartheid “London Recruits” was mistaken by one interviewer as being a jihadi recruitment event.
Keir Starmer. Editorial credit: ComposedPix / Shutterstock.com

The Labour Group said it will:

  • Write to the London Regional Party to raise concerns about the conduct of the interview panel and say that the incident should be investigated as a racist incident.
  • Get a confirmation in writing as to whether the interview panellists have received training on the APPG Islamophobia definition adopted by the Labour Party.
  • Recommend in future that all interviewers and appeal panellists receive training on the APPG Islamophobia definition.

A Labour spokesperson told 5Pillars: “All prospective and sitting councillors are subject to internal Labour Party selection processes, including requirements on their personal probity. There is an appeals process in place as part of that process. The Labour Party complies with the Equality Act through all its candidate selection processes and has a Code of Conduct which covers all forms of racism including Islamophobia. The Labour Party takes all allegations of racism seriously and will investigate and take action where appropriate.”

In 2020 a report found huge levels of dissatisfaction and distrust in the Labour Party by its own Muslim members and supporters.

The report, commissioned by the Labour Muslim Network, found that 46% of Muslim members and supporters believe the Labour Party does not represent the Muslim community effectively, whereas only 29% feel that it does.

The survey also found that 59% of Muslim members and supporters do not feel “well represented by the leadership of the Labour Party.” And 55% said they do not “trust the leadership of the Labour Party to tackle Islamophobia effectively.”

At the time Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer and Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said in a joint statement: “We thank Labour Muslim Network for this important report, as well as their work to ensure our Muslim members are represented, included and heard. Islamophobia has no place in our party or society and we are committed to rooting it out. We look forward to working with LMN to implement their recommendations and will be meeting with them to discuss the next steps in tackling the scourge of Islamophobia.”

Add your comments below