Express & Star

Rally for independent pro-Palestine Mayoral candidate attracts over 600 in Dudley

A crowd of more than 600 packed out a Dudley hall to pledge their support to Independent West Midlands Mayoral candidate Akhmed Yakoob on Tuesday.

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Mayoral candidate Akhmed Yakoob, former Labour councillor Billa and supporters in Dudley

The George Galloway backed pro-Palestine candidate was flanked by other independent candidates who will be standing in the local elections. Martin Hill Road and surrounding streets were packed with cars as people streamed into the Prince Banqueting Suite.

There were pro-Palestine slogans shouted throughout and in a worrying development for Labour's Mayoral and General Election prospects repeated calls for block voting allegiances to be switched from Keir Starmer's party for Independent candidates.

Wearing a Dudley Town FC tracksuit top Mr Yakoob told the Express & Star: "Dudley is vitally important in the West Midlands, that is why Andy Street and Keir Starmer come here trying to get votes.

"But they could not get as many people as we have here tonight, and they want change. There is a movement happening, Labour have taken the Asian vote for granted for too long and this election will prove that arrangement has ended. They only understand one language and that is the ballot box, the West Midlands Mayoral election will create national waves.

"Voting for Labour and the other mainstream parties is a waste. I want the West Midlands to be better, I want to improve the lives of the disabled, fight homelessness, why are Army veterans living on our streets? I want to clean up the streets, they are a disgrace. We are all one people, no matter the religion and everyone is joining our fight against injustice."

Other speakers on the platform told the cheering crowd a vote for Labour would be a vote against their religious leaders wishes.

The candidate took questions from the floor which included how he would tackle growing Islamophobia in the Black Country.

The 36-year-old lawyer said: "The other parties cannot even decide on the definition of Islamophobia, where as I see it every day in the criminal justice system."

The meeting at The Prince Banqueting Suite was part organised by former Labour Tipton Councillor Mohammed Yaseen Hussain, known as Billa. He was delighted with the turnout on the night.

He said: "Nights like this prove there has been a shift in political allegiances in the Black Country. To get more than 600 people to a meeting about the Mayoral election is unheard of. None of the other parties could get such a big turnout anywhere in the West Midlands let alone Dudley.

"Labour has lost a lot of votes because of the leadership shameful disregard for the innocent victims of Gaza and now they will see all those Muslim and Asian votes they took for granted disappear.

"Akhmed is standing for Mayor but we had independent candidates here tonight who are standing in the local elections in Dudley, Walsall and across the Black Country.

"We have the organisation, the political know-how and desire to cause a political earthquake on May 2."

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