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Faiza Shaheen to stand as independent after being blocked by Labour over Israel posts

Former Labour candidate says party 'disenfranchised' voters in her constituency after they excluded her
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (R) and former Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen address a gathering during a visit to Chingford in east London on 28 September 2019 (Tolga Akmen/AFP)

British academic Faiza Shaheen has announced her intention to stand as an independent candidate in the UK general elections after being blocked by the Labour Party over her posts on Israel and a number of other issues.

In a statement on Wednesday, Shaheen said she would stand as an independent for the marginal London seat of Chingford and Woodford Green, saying residents of the constituency had been "disenfranchised".

"I have reached this decision following hundreds of messages from people in my community, who say there are no options left for them. They are tired of the Tories but now feel they can’t trust Labour," she said in a statement.

The former economist, who grew up in Chingford, cited her background in the community, in contrast to Labour's candidate Shama Tatler, a councillor in the London Borough of Brent, in the city's northwest.

"I grew up here, went to school here and live here now. I was born at Whipps Cross, went to school in Chingford and had my first job at Greggs at Chingford Mount," Shaheen said, referring to the bakery chain.

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"With its recent actions, many local people think Labour has handed a winnable seat to the Conservatives for another five years. I aim to show that there is a progressive alternative to both parties that puts Chingford & Woodford Green first."

Labour deselected Shaheen on 30 May over a series of social media posts that included expressing support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), praising former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and supporting a friend's decision to stand for the Green Party.

Faiza Shaheen dropped by Labour for liking pro-BDS, Corbyn and Green Party posts
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In a heartfelt interview with the BBC's Newsnight programme, Shaheen said she received an email from Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) an hour before appearing on the show, in which she was told that she would be barred from standing for the party - despite having previously contested the same seat in the 2019 election - because her running would "frustrate Labour's purpose".

The programme heard she was called to a meeting with a panel of NEC members on Tuesday in which they highlighted posts made on X, formerly known as Twitter, which raised questions about her suitability as a candidate.

MEE was told by an informed source that a total of 15 social media posts were raised with the NEC, some of which were made more than a decade ago when the London School of Economics academic was not even a member of the Labour Party.

One tweet she liked linked to a video by US comedian Jon Stewart, in which he satirises the impossibility of saying anything critical about Israel without being undermined. Stewart, who is Jewish, called Shaheen's deselection "the dumbest thing the UK has done since electing Boris Johnson".

Shaheen has been seen as on the left of the party and was an ally of Corbyn, leading some to say her removal as a candidate came for factional reasons. Others have pointed to her Muslim and ethnic minority heritage.


Seven Labour councillors resigned on Tuesday, citing the party's treatment of Shaheen among others.

In an open letter to party leader Keir Starmer on Monday, councillors Zaffar Ajaib, Sabia Akram, Haqeeq Dar, Mohammed Nazir, Naveeda Qaseem, Waqas Sabah and Jamilia Sabah expressed “disillusionment and anger” at the Labour leadership.

The councillors from the Thames Valley town pointed to the deselection of Shaheen and the tussle over Diane Abbott’s candidacy as examples of the party’s “institutional racism”.

“The main issue is Gaza,” former councillor Haqeeq Dar told Middle East Eye. “But I think the breaking point was over the weekend - the treatment of long-serving Labour members like Diane Abbott and Faiza Shaheen.”

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