Seg­re­ga­tion storm over Labour rally

Men and women on dif­fer­ent sides of the aisle... again

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By James Tozer

LABOUR was caught up in another sex seg­re­ga­tion row yes­ter­day af­ter pic­tures showed Mus­lim women sit­ting apart from men at a by-elec­tion cam­paign event.

Only young women were vis­i­ble on one side of the au­di­ence lis­ten­ing to speak­ers in­clud­ing Old­ham West and Roy­ton can­di­date Jim McMa­hon. Across the aisle, only men could be seen, apart from a cou­ple of white women.

Af­ter a Labour MP tweeted the pic­tures, Ukip – which is fight­ing to over­turn the late Michael Meacher’s 15,000-vote ma­jor­ity in Thurs­day’s by- elec­tion – ac­cused its op­po­nents of hypocrisy in claim­ing to be the party of equal­ity while sup­port­ing seg­re­ga­tion.

But Labour de­nied there had been any seg­re­ga­tion by gen­der at the event – which was or­gan­ised by Labour Friends of Bangladesh – with one Mus­lim MP putting the ar­range­ment down to the young women’s cul­tural sen­si­tiv­i­ties.

About a fifth of vot­ers in Old­ham are from an eth­nic mi­nor­ity, with 17 per cent of res­i­dents say­ing they were Mus­lim in the lat­est cen­sus.

Pic­tures of the cam­paign event in Old­ham over the week­end were posted on Twit­ter by Deb­bie Abra­hams, Labour MP for neigh­bour­ing Old­ham East and Sad­dle­worth.

How­ever, they quickly drew com­ment for the ap­par­ent sep­a­ra­tion of men and women – and were com­pared to sim­i­lar scenes at a Labour rally in Birm­ing­ham in May.

Ukip by-elec­tion can­di­date John Bick­ley said: ‘Is this re­ally Labour’s mod­ern Bri­tain? Where a po­lit­i­cal event is seg­re­gated by gen­der?

‘For a party that claims to be pro­gres­sive, Labour seems to ac­cept some pretty funny ideas about gen­der equal­ity if they think them elec­torally help­ful.’

Party leader Nigel Farage said: ‘Jeremy Cor­byn and the Labour lead­er­ship need to ask them­selves some search­ing ques­tions about what they are for in the mod­ern world, as they cer­tainly no longer rep­re­sent equal­ity in mod­ern Bri­tain.’

A Labour spokesman de­nied claims that the meet­ing had been seg­re­gated, adding: ‘ Ukip are clutch­ing at straws for some­thing to say in this elec­tion.’

Labour MP Khalid Mah­mood, who was at the event, said the young Mus­lim women had sat to­gether vol­un­tar­ily be­cause they were more com­fort­able in a group.

Sep­a­rate: The cam­paign event in Old­ham at the week­end

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