Ex-MP leads protest calling for deselected Sandwell councillors to be reinstated

More than 70 people turned out for a protest in support of four deselected Labour councillors.

Former MP Adrain Bailey leads the protest in West Bromwich
Former MP Adrain Bailey leads the protest in West Bromwich

Former West Bromwich West MP Adrian Bailey led the protesters to Labour's regional HQ in West Bromwich to deliver a letter demanding the councillors be reinstated amid claims of "institutional racism" against party bosses.

Councillors’ Iqbal Singh Padda (Greets Green and Lyng), Mohammad Rouf (Soho and Victoria), Sandwell Mayor Mushtaq Hussain (Oldbury) and Samiya Akhter (St Paul’s) were blackballed by Labour’s National Executive Committee after years of political infighting in the ruling party’s group.

Speaking through a loud hailer after leading chants of “No racism in Sandwell” Mr Bailey said: “All four of these councillors are Asian and the communities that have done so much for the Labour Party and this area have been treated awfully. I do not believe the people in the West Midlands Labour Party are to blame, but it is the National Executive which has made this unbelievable decision.”

He added: “Keir Starmer needs to get a grip, to win the next election Labour has to win West Bromwich East and West and this is not going to happen if the party carries on like this.”

Asked if he would back the councillors if they stood as independents, he said: “I have never supported any candidate who has stood against the Labour Party.”

Councillor Akhter, a nurse, said: “This is a direct racist attack on me. I have worked hard for St Paul’s and should carry on being its councillor after working hard for four years.”

She has been replaced by Aqeela Choudhry who said she is “absolutely delighted” to have been selected.

Labour is expected to publish a full list of 24 candidates to contest the May elections in Sandwell in coming weeks.

It is understood that three of the four wards that are the subject of complaints will have BAME candidates.

A number of former councillors have made the list, including Luke Giles, Bill Gavan, Julie Webb and Liam Preece.

Meanwhile the Labour group is set to choose a new leader on Monday after the shock resignation of Rabir Singh as leader and as a councillor. Kerrie Carmichael is the strong favourite to win the contest.

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