Express & Star

Labour candidates branded 'genocide enablers' at Independents General Election campaign launch in Sandwell

The Gaza conflict has become a touchstone issue in Sandwell this General Election after an incendiary intervention by former Mayoral candidate Akhmed Yakoob who branded Labour candidates "genocide enablers".

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The firebrand politician launched the campaigns of Independent candidates, Mohammed Yasin in West Bromwich, Mohammed Yaseen Hussein, known as Billa, in Tipton and Wednesbury and Jay Anandou Smethwick at Tipton War Memorial on Sunday.

Mr Yakoob filmed one of his trademark campaign videos flanked by the candidates and supporters.

He said: "We are going to get rid of Labour from these constituencies. The genocide enablers need to go, they have blood on their hands. They have neglected the inner city areas of the West Midlands for far too long. We must show our frustration by way of the ballot paper, there is no stronger message than the ballot paper."

The Sandwell Independents campaign launch in Tipton on Sunday

He then turns to the placard holding supporters and says "is that right everybody" and is greeted with a cheer.

The George Galloway backed Independent politician shot to national fame after winning almost 70,000 votes in the West Midlands Mayoral election in May from campaign launched just four weeks before the poll.

Capitalising on anger in the Muslim community at Labour's refusal to demand Israel halt its ground offensive in Gaza, Mr Yakoob almost denied Labour victory in a result which went down to the wire.

Former Labour councillors, members and volunteers flocked to his campaign and after the campaign the organisation and apparatus was kept on to help Independent candidates stand in the General Election.

However, the following week, the lawyer shared a fake video which showed what appeared to be a Labour volunteer using a racial slur, he revealed her identity and she and her Wednesbury school were subjected to a barrage of online hate. Mr Yakoob was forced to apologise and is now under investigation by the lawyers' professional body.

Former Labour Tipton Green Councillor Billa was Mr Yakoob's campaign organiser for the Mayoral election and believes the political landscape has changed.

He said: "We came third after a four week campaign getting 70,000 voters, young and old to the polling booths. All the volunteers who got the vote out are still willing to campaign for us so it makes sense for independent candidates to pool their resources and be part of a movement.

"The Tories have left our communities deprived after 14 years in power. Labour took our entire community for granted for decades and now residents and voters know they can create change. There is an alternative now, and it is Independent.

"In Tipton and Wednesbury they have parachuted a London candidate in which has done the local activists no favours."

Former Old Warley Conservative Councillor Jay Anandou is the Independent candidate for the new Smethwick constituency.

He said: "This is the first Independent coordinated General Election campaign in the country, the Sandwell Independent Movement is happening."

When asked for a comment by the Express & Star Labour would not comment on Mr Yakoob's remarks but stressed the party had been calling for an Israeli ceasefire in Gaza and its new manifesto will call for recognition for a Palestinian state.

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