Dumped for speaking out

The sacking of a high-profiled councillor has triggered a row, with the Manchester Labour party hitting back furiously defending it’s position.

Ex-councillor for Hulme – Amina Lone claims she’s been ousted because she’s outspoken and insists she’s been treated unfairly.

Ms Lone has been from standing for the party in Manchester again, a decision she blamed on ‘powerful’ factions within the party attempting to silence her. She claims Muslim ‘clans’ are controlling the city’s Labour politics.

But the party has fiercely defended itself with Council leader Sir Richard Leese pointing out that last year Amina Lone failed to attend key council meetings for almost six months.

Sir Richard Leese – in a joint statement with chief whip Suzannah Reeves, despite his previous letter of support for Councillor Lone, has now said that the Manchester Labour group had reported “an extremely poor campaigning record and an attendance at official council meetings so bad that it almost led to a by-election’.

“Far from being picked on for her views on gender equality in Muslim communities, when Coun Lone herself stood for election in the Labour group for the position of assistant executive member, not only was she elected but the defeated candidate was both male and Muslim,” they added.

Ms Lone of Pakistani heritage however, says that her views over women’s rights in the Muslim community were a problem for some leaders in the community.

She says she’s been punished for speaking out against Muslim grooming gangs and systematic abuse by Pakistani men.

Lone was one of the few Labour figures to defend the sacked MP, Sarah Champion after she was forced to resign following the recent row over sexual abuse and an article in the Sun newspaper.

She said in a recent TV interview that Ms Champion had become a “scapegoat” for people hoping to avoid “difficult conversations” about abuse.

“She is not a racist but a brave woman speaking out about a politically awkward issue,” she added.

But now Labour have said that the 45-year-old cannot stand for re-election after seven years in her post, saying they are worried that she doesn’t attend enough meetings.

Coun Lone had appealed the decision and lost, later saying she believed ‘ambitious’ figures within the party had pushed her out for being ‘outspoken’.

Ms Lone has also told press that “Labour is only interested in BAME (Black And Ethnic Minorities) councillors if they can deliver votes in a wholesale way”.

And she told The Sunday Times that she thinks she has been de-selected as a “punishment for speaking out and as a warning to others not to speak out”.

She added the party had a “particular problem” with black and ethnic minority women.

“So many black and minority ethnic women in the Labour Party are terrified,” she said.

“The silencing is so acute, the fear is so acute. I’m the only one that’s speaking publicly and I’ve been warned a lot this year.”

Labour has said the selection process is fair and balanced.