Protest to be held outside MP’s office over Labour's 'racist' selection process

A silent protest will take place outside the office of a local MP this weekend regarding a failure to acknowledge complaint letters.

Councillor Samiya Akhter. Photo: Sandwell Council
Councillor Samiya Akhter. Photo: Sandwell Council

Councillor Samiya Akhter has organised the protest for Saturday morning at 10am, in light of “no acknowledgement” to her complaint letter to her own party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

She said the reasons for her protest were related to concerns “about issues within Sandwell Council” and to “seek clarification” on what the intentions of the Labour Party are.

She said: “I’m doing this to seek justice for the racism and unfairness that us four councillors have suffered, regardless of the NEC stating that they have selected BAME candidates for the elections in 2022.

“Have they considered how competent they are to suffice their roles as councillors?”

Last week, up to 75 protestors attended a protest at Terry Duffy House, the headquarters of West Midlands Labour, against the decision by Labour to remove councillors from their elected position in Sandwell.

Three of the deselected councillors, and a former MP, Adrian Bailey, also joined the protest, before delivering their letters of complaints to the headquarters.

A small silent protest will take place outside the office of John Spellar. Photo: Google Street Map

Both Councillor Singh and Councillor Akhter attempted to deliver their letters of complaints to the headquarters, but no one from West Midlands Labour was there to open the door.

Councillor Akhter’s letter, sent to David Evans, general secretary of the Labour party, accused Labour’s selection process as being “institutionally racist”, and believed the party allowed “discriminatory practices”.

She claimed the Labour party has replaced “every single Muslim councillor” in Sandwell up for re-election and alleged, “not a single person of a non-minority was deselected apart from Muslims or Sikhs”.

Standing outside with protesters last week, Councillor Akhter, who works as a nurse, said it was a “ruthless decision” for the National Executive Committee – the governing body of the Labour party – to deselect her.

It comes after four Labour councillors of Asian background did not pass selection panel interviews to stand again as Labour candidates and that the majority of Labour candidates chosen to contest these wards next year identify as BAME.

It's understood their names are Samiya Akhter (St Paul’s), Mustaq Hussain ( Oldbury), Iqbal Padda Singh (Greets Green and Lyng), and Mohammad Rouf (Soho and Victoria).

But John Spellar MP, Warley, said it was “very little” to do with him.

He said: “I am not a member of the NEC, so I don’t really have a say over these matters.

“What they should do is file a complaint to the NEC. It’s normal procedure that they get a normal read out on why they failed something. Seriously, you need to talk to them. It is not my responsibility.”

MP John Spellar says he's not the person to speak to over the matter

Labour is yet to publish a full list of 24 candidates to contest the May 2022 elections, although a number of former councillors are understood to have been selected.

They include Bill Gavan, who quit the party in November 2019 and tried to join the Conservatives in 2020, but was unsuccessful. Julie Webb, who was expelled in 2019, has also been rumoured to be selected.

Meanwhile Kerrie Carmichael will officially become Sandwell council’s next leader, after standing unopposed for the position.

This will be finalised at the next full council meeting on December 7.

Councillor Maria Crompton will serve as deputy leader.

It comes after Rajbir Singh, who represented Bristnall, quit due to personal circumstances. He has also resigned as a councillor.

The Labour party were approached for comment.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News