On 21st of February 2015, just 75 days before the general elections, the Labour Party eventually managed to select the candidate for the Bradford West constituency to enter the contest.
Ms Amina Ali, a councillor from Tower Hamlets, London has won the toss for this seat beating two local aspirants with a huge majority. Cllr Naveeda Ikram, the first female Muslim Lord Mayor of the city was tipped to secure the nomination followed by a rather newcomer to politics, Ms Naseem Shah. But surprisingly, both were unanimously rejected by the 237 members present at the selection meeting by a big margin.
It is reported that after the result was announced, there were skirmishes between Naveeda Ikram’s supporters and those who were alleged to have supported Amina Ali by using the block vote in order to exclude the other two candidates from victory. Also insiders have revealed to Urban Echo that lobbying for Ali continued during the three hour meeting by way of whispers and deterring eye contacts. During the two weeks preceding the selection meeting, reliable sources have informed Urban Echo that several private meetings were held by a particular faction of the Labour Party in which the use of block vote in favour of Ali was decided. In addition, a Member of Parliament made a special journey from the Midlands to vouch support for another candidate. These disclosures can only be indicative of undue and unfair interventions and irregularities of the whole process of selection.
Once again these extraneous influences have occurred in the selection process which the party wanted to avoid at any cost. The Labour Party, as a result of their nearly three year investigation of factors which led to their defeat in 2012, took the decision to declare Bradford West as a woman only constituency with the hope of achieving some unity within the party and the community. It is manifest now, however, that they have dismally failed. The party is still divided into factions and last month they tried and succeeded to demonstrate their influence and power.
As we know, the seat in Bradford West became vacant after the demise of Marsh Singh. Subsequently, Mr Imran Hussain was chosen to contest it and lost to the Respect Party by a mammoth ten thousand majority. It was a humiliating defeat for Labour and the man responsible for this defeat was none other than George Galloway – the most tumultuous politician and a bogeyman of the media. Galloway within a few weeks of his presence in the city mesmerised the electorate by his unmatchable power of oratory and his unequivocal support for Palestine. This stupendous victory of Galloway was described as the GG phenomenon. Although, the support for the Respect Party after the resignations of its five councillors in 2013 has eroded, the party is
still breathing and alive and it would be suicidal for Labour to underestimate or ignore Galloway as a political entity in in the forthcoming contest. For the Labour candidate, the time for campaigning is too short as being an outsider and reliance on loyalty and sincerity of some Labour members is dubious. Rumours are already rife within the community that the rift in the local labour party and the ulterior motive of a faction is to ensure that Labour does not win because of the” shoddy” treatment meted out to them. And, of course, if Ms Ali wins, they believe their chances will be limited.
In these circumstances the Labour Party has no room to harbour any illusion or complacency and sit on their laurels, as usual, hoping everything will be all right. They should not simply depend on honeyed words of dubious sincerity and loyalty but scrutinise these claims and ensure by the evidence of hard work and visible actions. Ms Amina Ali and her party are undoubtedly faced with many minefields; hence they have to navigate with utmost caution and prudence to win back Bradford West.
Editor, Urban Echo