Faiza Shaheen and supporters

Faiza Shaheen—who is challenging the U.K. Labour Party's move to block her from running for Parliament—stands with her family and supporters in 2024.

(Photo: Faiza Shaheen/X)

Jon Stewart: Labour Banning Leftist Candidate 'Dumbest Thing' Since UK Elected Boris Johnson

Leftist economist Faiza Shaheen said the party "has an ingrained culture of bullying, a palpable problem with Black and brown people, and thinks nothing of dragging a person's good name through the mud."

Faiza Shaheen is formally challenging the U.K. Labour leadership's Wednesday decision to block her from running for Parliament as the party's candidate in Chingford and Woodford Green, and speaking out about "a systematic campaign of racism, Islamophobia, and bullying from some within the party" that she has endured.

Shaheen discussed the move by Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) to exclude her ahead of the July 4 general elections in an on-camera interview with the BBC late Wednesday. The leftist—an economist and visiting professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)—described being in a state of shock.

Labour leadership emailed Shaheen about the decision, she said, after privately confronting her about a series of social media posts—including one she "liked" that features a famous clip of American comedian Jon Stewart, who is of Jewish heritage, highlighting how criticism of Israel is often met with backlash.

The post that included the Stewart clip was written by Philippe Lemoine of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, who used the video as an example of how the Israel lobby works. In a series of comments reacting to Shaheen being barred from the election, Lemoine on Thursday said: "I guess I should thank the Labour's [NEC] and the people who complained about Faiza Shaheen for illustrating my point."

After journalist Mehdi Hasan brought the "madness" of Labour targeting Shaheen to Stewart's attention, the comedian said that "this is the dumbest thing the U.K. has done since electing Boris Johnson," the former Conservative prime minister. He added, "What the actual fuck."

Shaheen told the BBC that some of the other social media posts from over the past decades that Labour leaders took issue with related to the Green Party and experiences with Islamophobia. She also said that she has concerns about Israel's assault on Gaza and has worked to bring people of various faiths together in her community.

"The deselection of Faiza Shaheen is unacceptable," the Labour Muslim Network said Wednesday. "To use her tweets accounting personal experiences of Islamophobia as evidence for deselection is utterly outrageous. Telling a Muslim woman she is not allowed to talk about her own experiences of racism is clear Islamophobia."

In a statement about the legal challenge to the NEC decision, Shaheen said that "I have come to the inescapable conclusion that Labour, far from being a broad church encompassing different views, has an ingrained culture of bullying, a palpable problem with Black and brown people, and thinks nothing of dragging a person's good name through the mud in pursuit of a factional agenda, with no thought of the impact on committed members' mental health and well-being."

"I have not experienced this level of relentless hostility in all my personal or professional life—not even from the Conservatives."

"I have not experienced this level of relentless hostility in all my personal or professional life—not even from the Conservatives," she continued. "I am just heartbroken at this decision—heartbroken for the loyal party members who have supported me, for the voters pledging their vote to me, and my friends and family who have helped me campaign through infertility treatment, a difficult pregnancy, and a complicated birth."

The new mother added that "I really wanted to win this seat—I grew up here, went to school here, and live here now. I wanted to win for my neighbors and my community because they deserve better. I am so desperately sorry that this has happened but would like to sincerely thank everyone who worked so hard for me and Labour in Chingford and Woodford Green."

The Guardianreported Thursday that "Shaheen had been expected to beat the Conservative candidate Iain Duncan Smith, who has represented the seat since it was created in 1997," despite her loss to the former Tory leader in 2019.

In addition to moving to exclude Shaheen, Labour on Wednesday suspended MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who said that "someone (who remains anonymous to me) has made what I believe to be a vexatious and politically motivated complaint about my behavior eight years ago. This is a false allegation that I dispute totally and I believe it was designed to disrupt this election."

"There isn't enough time to defend myself as these processes within the party take too long, so the party have told me that I will not be eligible to be a candidate at the next election," added Russell-Moyle.

The developments led to accusations that Labour is trying to purge the party of its left flank. In response to the Shaheen decision, MP Diane Abbott said: "Appalling. Whose clever idea has it been to have a cull of left-wingers?"

According toAl Jazeera:

On Wednesday, Abbott had herself claimed Labour had not allowed her to defend her Hackney North and Stoke Newington seat in the election despite lifting a suspension that was enacted last year due to her comments on racism.

The lawmaker had been reinstated as a Labour MP on Tuesday after the completion of a party investigation into comments she had made in a letter to The Observer newspaper, stating that Jewish, Irish and Traveller people "undoubtedly experience prejudice," but do not face racism "all their lives."

However, Labour Leader Keir Starmer later denied the claim, saying "no decision" had been taken to bar the left-winger, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn who led the party from 2015 to 2020.

Corbyn—who was suspended from Labour in 2020 due to a battle over allegations of antisemitism in the party—is running as an Independent this year, following an NEC vote last year on Starmer's motion to not endorse his candidacy.

Asked about candidate selection, Starmer toldSky News that "I want the highest-quality candidates."

Responding to Starmer's comment, writer Owen Jones pointed out in a series of social media posts that the party leader had previously described Shaheen as a "fabulous" and "fantastic candidate."

Noting Jones' posts, Shaheen wrote: "Please don't undermine my credentials Keir Starmer. I came from a family with a violent father and spent part of my childhood on benefits. I'm now a visiting professor and teach at LSE. Public services really helped me, and I had to work so hard to get to this point in my life."

"Haven't you hurt me enough already?" she added.

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