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Sunday Oct 06 2019
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Naz and Salma spar as old wounds refresh

LONDON: The Labour party’s selection process for West Midland’s mayor has been plunged into a serious crisis after Labour’s shadow minister and Bradford MP Naz Shah accused prospective candidate Salma Yaqoob of being unfit for office for running a campaign of hate and biradarism against her during the general election campaign of 2017.

In a letter to the National Executive Council (NEC) of Labour Party, the shadow minister for women and equalities has demanded that Salma Yaqoob should not be allowed to stand as mayoral candidate for the West Midlands because she ran a “despicable” general election campaign against her in Bradford West two years ago.

Salma Yaqoob, a former councilor of Birmingham and leader of George Galloway’s defunct Respect Party, rejected allegations by Naz Shah and said Naz had refused to accept her public apology for standing as a Respect candidate in Bradford West.

Naz believes that the Labour’s NEC should not have allowed Salma to oppose the MP Liam Byrne and a union leader in the race to be selected as the party’s official candidate to take on the West Midlands Conservative mayor, Andy Street.

This reporter has seen a copy of the letter Naz Shah wrote to the NEC and also Salma Yaqoob’s reply to the allegations. Naz told the NEC that Salma endorsed a campaign of misogyny, religious and sectarian hate, patriarchy and biradari (clan) politics in 2017.

Naz Shah has publicly said that her life was put at risk, she was subjected to public humiliation in Pakistani and Kashmiri community of Bradford and treated as inferior by Salma’s campaign group, on her behest, during the controversial campaign and that she was driven to contemplate suicide.

During the heated election campaign, local community men using platform of Salma Yaqoob’s campaign repeatedly subjected Naz Shah to attacks.

Naz Shah defeated George Galloway in the 2015 elections on Labour’s ticket and won the seat again in 2017 on an increased majority. Naz Shah's Bradford West constituency has more Muslim voters than any other constituency in Britain. The number of registered voters in Bradford stands at over 43,000 - out of which 23,00 are eligible Muslims.