Faiza Shaheen is the latest ethnic minority female election candidate to be dumped by Labour

Faiza Shaheen is the latest ethnic minority female election candidate to be dumped by Labour

Faiza Shaheen is the latest ethnic minority female election candidate to be dumped by Labour – on shaky grounds to do with anti-Semitism.

Let’s do a bit of background on Dr Shaheen, shall we? This is from Wikipedia:

She first worked at the Centre for Urban Policy Studies, University of Manchester. In 2007, she joined the urban policy research charity, Centre for Cities. In 2009, she became senior researcher on economic inequality at the New Economics Foundation.

In 2014, she was appointed Head of Inequality and Sustainable Development at Save the Children UK. From 2016, she was director of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS), a policy think tank originating from the trade union movement.

Between 2021 and 2023, Shaheen was the Inequality and Exclusion Program Director at the Center on International Cooperation, New York University. She is a visiting professor in practice at the International Inequalities Institute of the London School of Economics where she teaches the Masters course on inequality.

You’ll have noticed multiple mentions of inequality there, and one would have thought Labour would be delighted to have somebody as well-qualified as Doctor Shaheen as a candidate and possible member of government. Her connection with the Trade Union movement should have helped her, too.

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Ah, but she joined Labour after Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015, and may therefore clearly be defined as left-wing.

A frequent contributor to TV politics shows, she supported Diane Abbott when the then-Shadow Home Secretary was gaslighted by BBC Question Time host Fiona Bruce and fellow guest Isobel Oakeshott, who told her Labour was behind in the opinion polls when the latest poll showed the party three points ahead of the Tories.

She was selected as Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green – the constituency held by former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith – in 2018. She later said she was motivated by the need to expose the “heartless” reforms he introduced, and their impact on her late mother.

And the Green candidate in the 2019 general election stood aside in an attempt to give Dr Shaheen a clear chance to defeat Duncan Smith. According to The Independent, John Tyne said: “The actions of IDS as the architect of the failed rollout of Universal Credit mean that we believe he is unfit for office.”

Put all of the above together and it clearly seems to be madness for Labour to disown such a great candidate. But that is exactly what the party has done, as a clearly shocked Dr Shaheen stated to viewers of the BBC’s Newsnight, moments after receiving an email from Labour’s head office:

There are typical ‘Labour witch-hunt’ characteristics here:

The party briefed the press before notifying the candidate that she was being dropped; that is exactly what happened to This Writer – me – when I was falsely accused of anti-Semitism while standing for election to Powys County Council in 2017.

She was dropped on the basis of social media messages – tweets – that she made over the last 14 years, meaning some were from the period before she was even a member of the Labour Party, and was therefore not subject to Labour rules.

Three of these tweets supported actions of a friend who was in the Green Party. Notice that Labour was delighted that her Green connections won her the support of that party, and its candidate, in the 2019 general election. Isn’t this hypocrisy by Keir Starmer’s cronies?

More seriously, one was about her own experiences of Islamophobia in the Labour Party. While this may well be seen to be harmful to Labour election chances, would it not have been more appropriate to investigate her allegations and expel her persecutors, rather than attack the victim? Or were the Islamophobes close friends of Starmer and his top team?

Note that Dr Shaheen did not withdraw her claims. In the Newsnight interview she asserted that Labour is riddled with double-standards and referred to the party’s treatment of Diane Abbott as an example.

Interviewer Victoria Derbyshire referred to tweets that were allegedly anti-Semitic. Apparently, these had been referred to party authorities by the Jewish Labour Movement, which is notorious for witch-hunting innocent party members.

One of her tweets stated that anyone saying anything remotely critical of Israel is immediately assailed by scores of “hysterical” people telling them that they are completely wrong and biased against that country. “Those people are mobilised by professional organisations.” She recanted her comment, saying she understood that this comment “plays into” an anti-Semitic trope.

But let’s have a think about that. Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism unless it is an attack on Jewish people because they are Jews. In all other respects, that country must be as open to criticism as any other. We can see how Israel’s supporters wrongly attack others as anti-Semites in the huge amount of social media commentary on the Israel-Gaza conflict, in which many of us see Israel very clearly committing genocide.

As for those supporters of Israel being mobilised by professional organisations – isn’t the Jewish Labour Movement a professional organisation? Hasn’t it made many claims of anti-Semitism in the past? And have those claims not motivated others to contact the alleged perpetrators – innocent or guilty – to take issue with them?

The JLM is only one such example. I could refer to an infamous network of Twitter (now X) trolls that spread vitriol, often about people who were entirely innocent (in This Writer’s hugely educated opinion). How many others are out there?

Dr Shaheen referred to the work she has done to bring people of different ethnicities together – none of which mean anything to the Labour witch-hunters.

She said she felt foolish for believing that she would not be attacked by the witch-hunters.

And she addressed a few words to Labour leader Keir Starmer: “On top of Gaza; on top of Diane Abbott; and now this to me, when there are such double-standards of how people have been treated … when they have said racist things… What message are you sending my community? What message are you sending the black community? Labour is really far ahead in the polls, but our communities have really supported Labour and we’re being tossed aside in a way that is so harsh.”

Ms Derbyshire made the point that Dr Shaheen is ideologically much closer to Jeremy Corbyn than Keir Starmer. Is Labour still the party for her?

She replied that Labour needs to be a “broad church” but that is becoming more difficult. “I am a strong supporter of Palestine; I do watch the news and I am really worried about what’s happening there. I was hoping to be a strong voice for human rights… I’ve expressed that within the party … I’m really concerned about the stance the Labour Party took earlier on with Gaza.”

Could this be the point where people on the Left finally give up on Labour and leave? Dr Shaheen pointed out that many have already left.

But she said this was less about the Left and “more about the message to Muslims and black people. It’s really not the message that the party wants to send.”

That message is clear: Muslims and black people are not welcome in Keir Starmer’s Labour Party and it will not help them if elected to form a government.

Will Starmer be able to refute that?

Or will he make matters worse?

As for Dr Shaheen:

It’s not too late for her to join the rising tide of Independent candidates. Her high profile might help them wash away the Establishment parties and their stink.

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One Comment

  1. Martyn May 31, 2024 at 7:10 am - Reply

    the backstabbing traitors in the Labour party have heaped deep shame and disgrace on the labour movement as a while…Vote for Labour at the next election, at your peril! They are as big a liars, as racist and corrupt as Sunak’s tory criminal cartel!

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