A UKIP Parliamentary candidate has slammed Labour for discriminatory behaviour after sources said white people and men were deliberately pushed out of their candidate shortlist for the Lewisham East by-election, before announcing an “all BAME [black and minority ethnic] women” list.
Open discrimination along racial lines in UK politics is not specifically permitted, but according to left-wing blog Labour List, who reported ahead of the shortlist’s announcement, three white people — Tom Copley, Joe Dromey, and Kevin Bonavia — were “dissuaded from entering the race in anticipation of an all-BME shortlist or expect to be knocked out for that reason”.
The website claimed an all-female, non-white list was “expected” in response to “a distinct lack of BME candidates” in previous elections, and highlights calls from activists for more non-white MPs and even for white people to be banned, as men already are, in some Labour shortlists.
All-women shortlists are legal due to the Sex Discrimination Act 2002 and the Equality Act 2010, which permits their use until 2030. There is no specific exception for all-ethnic minority lists.
David Kurten, UKIP’s rival candidate in the by-election and a London Assembly Member, told Breitbart London: “No political party should actively discriminate on the grounds of race or sex, but it appears that Labour may be using its own creation – the Equality Act 2010 – to do just that.
“The Act allows discrimination which is anti-white and anti-male in certain circumstances.”
MPs have written an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn which I will publish tomorrow. We think that it is important that the next MP for #LewishamEast is a woman.
— (((Dawn Butler MP))) (@DawnButlerBrent) May 13, 2018
Just hours after the Labour List article was published, on Tuesday the 15th, Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) announced an all-female, non-white list as expected, consisting of Claudia Webbe, Brenda Dacres, Janet Daby, and Sakina Sheikh.
The by-election was triggered after Heidi Alexander, the former shadow health secretary, resigned her seat to take up a role as deputy mayor for transport under Labour’s London Mayor, Sadiq Khan.
The four candidates will now be put to a members’ vote at hustings over the weekend. Three of them are already embroiled in controversy, after promoting a local imam, Shakeel Begg, who was found in court to be an “extremist” advocating violence.
One candidate, Sakina Sheikh, just two weeks ago shared a platform with him at the Lewisham Islamic Centre, where the killers of Lee Rigby prayed. The former frontrunner, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, was forced to pull out on the 13th, after comparing Israel’s defence to the Holocaust.
I am very pleased that David Kurten AM has been selected as the UKIP candidate for the Lewisham East By-Election on 14th June. pic.twitter.com/UsQrWDiPx7
— Gerard Batten MEP (@GerardBattenMEP) May 14, 2018
Mr. Kurten added: “The side effect of discriminating on the grounds of ‘protected characteristics’ is that the best person for the job rarely gets it.
“This is patently true in Lewisham, as three of the four shortlisted candidates have appeared on a platform with a radical Islamist preacher who was found guilty of encouraging violence in support of Islam.
“London is reeling from a horrific surge in violent crime under Sadiq Kahn, and has suffered two terrorist attacks in the last year where radical Islamic terrorists committed acts of mass murder. It is beyond belief that Labour would even consider selecting a candidate who would show their support for a preacher of Islamist hatred.
“Labour politicians are always ready to virtue signal their credentials of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity. In the case of these BAME women, diversity means tolerance of hatred. This is the reality of Corbyn Labour’s ‘kinder, gentler politics’.”
— Ryan Denston (@RyanDenston) May 12, 2018
In January this year, The Guardian reported “anger” in the Labour Party because too few ethnic minority candidates have been selected for the party in marginal seats, with party officials promising to act.
Labour MP David Lammy told the paper he found it “disappointing” and demanded the party made changes. The Operation Black Vote group argued that Labour’s all-women shortlists had forced out non-white men, and campaigners called for more non-white women to be selected as a solution.
Alice Perry, a member of Labour’s national executive committee, said the NEC hoped to see a substantial uptick in the number of BME candidates selected, claiming, “the NEC is discussing the best ways to achieve this at local and national levels”.
A Labour Party spokesman said: “Labour is committed to further increasing the representation of BME candidates at all levels of the party and, as part of our democracy review, is looking at how we can further improve the diversity of our party.”
— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) May 15, 2018