West Ham Labour Party NEC candidate suspended ahead of national governing body elections
PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 March 2020
A “leading” candidate for Labour’s governing body has been suspended from the party.
The party is investigating allegations West Ham constituency Labour Party (CLP) vice-chairman Mehmood Mirza shared a reportedly anti-semitic cartoon online in 2018 and applauded a campaigner who urged Labour to fight for the NHS rather than fighting 'false' internal anti-semitism claims at a meeting in 2019.
The cartoon reportedly shows a sticker with the words 'anti-semitism' placed over the mouth of a man who has a 'free Palestine' band round his head.
The Recorder understands Mr Mirza vehemently denies the allegations.
It is understood the party is investigating Mr Mirza and his suspension prevents him from taking part in party activity, including elections.
Labour does not comment on individual cases, but a spokesman said: 'The party takes all complaints of anti-semitism extremely seriously, and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate action is taken.'
Jo Bird, also suspended during the nomination period, said of the case at a meeting in Liverpool: 'It's absolutely disgusting.
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'There's a case for suspending the BAME elections to the NEC so that we can have free and fair elections.'
A Labour member of 12 years, Mr Mirza was hoping to take the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) position on the party's National Executive Committee.
West Ham CLP passed a resolution protesting the Momentum member's suspension, along with four more candidates, just before the NEC ballot began.
A joint online statement from Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Representation Committee and Red Labour says: 'Mehmood is the leading left candidate running for the BAME position and the timing of this suspension is deeply suspicious.
'This can be seen as a deliberate attempt to undermine democracy within the party. Already thousands of members have put Mehmood's name on the ballot paper and may now be denied the opportunity to vote for him.'
The organisations vow to 'stand firm against attempts to silence left-wing campaigners'.
Labour Left Alliance (LLA) named Mr Mirza as the preferred candidate after he received 320 votes in a poll, 308 more than the second placed candidate. He was nominated by 75 CLPs.
A petition urging Labour to suspend the NEC elections has almost hit its 1,000 signatories target.