Shaheen spoke to the supportive crowd (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Around 600 people attended an angry rally in Highams Park in east London on Friday night in support of Faiza Shaheen. She was the Labour Party candidate for the Chingford and South Woodford constituency but was removed this week by party HQ on charges of unacceptable social media posts.

There was nothing wrong with her tweets. One, for example, from a decade ago, simply liked a friend’s announcement they were a Green election candidate.

The rally heard speeches from Mick Moore—one of Shaheen’s campaign organisers—Kevin Courtney, the former NEU union general secretary, local Labour activists and other supporters.

Moore told the crowd to a huge cheer, “I want Faiza to represent us. Teachers, nurses and social care workers have to go to food banks. Faiza believes in public services and public sector workers.”

Elisa, introduced as a local mum, denounced, “The appalling way she’s been treated. We should all have a voice and it’s been taken away.” 

Tammy, another local supporter, said, “We are raging about what has happened”.

Courtney told the rally to huge cheers, “I want Faiza Sheheen to be the next MP for Chingford and Woodford. She was one of only six Labour MPs to win a swing against Tories in the 2019 election. Yet trumped-up charges have been brought against her by people who have since been given safe Labour seats. I am not in favour of turning our backs on working class communities.”

Sherry, manager of a local whole food shop, said, “We need Faiza and we need her now. This Labour Party does not represent ordinary people like you and me.” 

Salasse, a young black Labour Party activist, said, “Labour is taking the votes of young working people like myself for granted.”

Faiza Shaheen gave an emotional speech, telling the crowd, “After the way I’ve been treated, there is no way back to the Labour Party for me. My dad taught me how to stand up to bullies. I am not going to beg and grovel. I will have to sit down with my team in the next few days and consider how to take this fight forward.” 

She may run as an independent. The rally ended with loud chants of “Faiza, Faiza”.

Labour’s war on the left

Faiza Shaheen’s treatment is part of a wider pattern. The Labour Party hierarchy tried to ditch Diane Abbott as a candidate but the outraged response seems to have forced Keir Starmer’s supporters to back off.

On Friday Starmer said that Abbott is “free to go forward as a Labour candidate”.

The deselection of Shaheen, who was picked as the candidate for a second time to take on Iain Duncan Smith back in 2022, came just hours after Brighton candidate Lloyd Russell-Moyle was also deselected by Labour’s national executive committee.

While purging parts of the left, Labour has handed plum seats to Starmer allies Josh Simons and Luke Akehurst.

Dave Ward, general secretary of the CWU union, said, “The gerrymandering and jobs for the boys approach to selections whilst axing outstanding candidates is a disgrace.”

Despite the evidence of Labour’s rotten politics—and attacks on black, Asian and Muslim people in particular—the thin ranks of the Labour left largely stay silent for fear of themselves facing action.

Labour is no place for socialists. 

Charlie Kimber

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