Eastern Eye (UK)

Councillor­s lash out at Labour

- (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

LABOUR has been criticised for its handling of the deselectio­n of a number of Leicester City councillor­s – a majority of whom are from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background, writes Sam Moorhouse.

Nineteen sitting councillor­s were told they cannot stand as a Labour candidate in the coming May election, after party heads decided to take the decision out of the hands of local members and placed the national executive committee (NEC) in charge.

But both deselected councillor­s and their constituen­ts are questionin­g the party’s motivation­s after it was revealed that a majority of those deselected are from a minority background. Fifteen out of the 26 BAME Labour city councillor­s have been removed from their positions, compared with just four of the 22 white Labour councillor­s.

Labour sources stressed the recently selected candidates are representa­tive of all communitie­s in Leicester and the changes will increase BAME representa­tion and the number of female candidates.

Councillor Ruma Ali, from Humberston­e and Hamilton, now stands as an independen­t candidate after being deselected by the NEC. She has immediatel­y resigned from the party.

Ali said, “When it comes to black minorities, ethnic communitie­s and what we need and what we want, we will struggle to help. These councillor­s are hard working and do so much for the areas they represent. Constituen­ts I have spoken to and have messaged me on social media are utterly outraged.

“Labour cannot now guarantee that they are going to win these seats … and the communitie­s are now so stressed, angry and upset and I don’t think they will vote Labour again. I resigned because I believe the party is racist and this was nothing to do with who is a good or bad councillor.”

Ali also claimed she was promised by the city mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, that she would be reselected as a candidate if she supported him during the vote to scrap his office. This is something he strenuousl­y denied.

Sir Peter told Leicesters­hireLive: “That is absolutely bizarre, it really is. The selection was undertaken by people who were entirely impartial in the way in which they approached it and, certainly not was I in a position, nor did I, promise anybody a selection or deselectio­n.

“I had no part in it whatsoever and that was made very clear to the candidates. It was an impartial process.”

Councillor Sharmen Rahman was also deselected in the recent cuts and said the decision has left her constituen­ts feeling angry and disappoint­ed.

“I represent a ward that is around 70 per cent ethnic minority, and to know that my community is more likely to be left voiceless than other communitie­s is a hurtful thing,” Rahman said.

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