Labour’s black members revolt over ‘witch hunt’

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BULLYING CLAIMS: Black Labour party members are angry at the treatment of Adeline Aina

BLACK LABOUR members have accused its own party of discrimination amid an ongoing campaign against a black woman chosen to stand in upcoming local elections in south London.

In an almost unprecedented move, BAME Labour has openly condemned the actions of the Lambeth Campaign Forum – the body which helps the party to screen applicants in Dulwich and West Norwood, Vaxuhall and Streatham.

It follows the long-running saga of political hopeful Adeline Aina who came third in a democratic vote for the opportunity to contest a seat in Larkhall ward – one of 21 neighbourhoods in the borough.

But her July 2013 victory meant that Pete Robbins, a sitting councillor since 2006 and cabinet member for housing and regeneration, was forced out, effectively ending his career.

Since then, the local branch has contested Aina’s “suitability” and even invited her for a second interview with regard to her connection to a housing association. It was prompted by an FOI request lodged by the council department Robbins leads.

Aina, who completed the Labour Future Candidate training, is accused of damaging the party’s reputation.

But members of the Labour party in Lambeth have reacted to this allegation by accusing David Salisbury-Jones, the chair of the LCF of leading a “witch hunt” against Aina.

According to party sources, procedural process prevents Aina from being deselected, “which is why they (LCF) are adamant in pushing a re-interview”

An extract from BAME Labour’s letter read: “[We] have major concerns regarding the nature of the process undertaken by Lambeth which undermines the confidence between the party and BAME members and community, particularly at a time when we have forthcoming council and general elections.

“The local party has breached fair play and natural justice in creating new rules to determine who is a Labour Party candidate which has led to a black women being discriminated. This case further highlights a growing number of cases of bullying and discrimination against potential candidates in council and parliamentary selection processes that have been highlighted to the BAME Executive.”

BAME Labour has also written to Labour’s general secretary Iain McNicol requesting he immediately intervenes on behalf of the NEC.

Last April, Aina was rejected as a candidate by the LCF because she had previously stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate but the decision was overturned by the party’s regional directors who said the action was “unlawful and unconstitutional”.

Aina is being backed by her MP Kate Hoey and Simon Woolley, director of the Operation Black Vote (OBV) but has yet to speak publicly about her experience.

As it stands, Aina is still a candidate, but Woolley urged Lambeth Labour to “stop the witch hunt, accept the democratic outcome and begin to work together for the benefit of the whole borough.”

Wolley told The Voice: “If this carries on why would any black person vote for the Lambeth Labour party, much less join and be an active member?

“If fairness and decency are not central to the local party both in words and deeds then democracy has been failed.”

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