ED Miliband faced embarassment today after Labour’s candidate for George Galloway’s Bradford West constituency quit just days after she was selected.
Amina Ali, a London councillor, said she had decided she could not meet family commitments while also campaigning in Bradford between now and May 7.
Labour was stunned when it lost the 2012 by-election in Bradford West as Mr Galloway, the Respect MP, overturned its 5,763 majority and took the seat by more than 10,000 votes.
Mr Miliband promised to learn the lessons of the defeat which raised serious questions about the state of the party in what was previously considered a safe Labour seat.
But Ms Ali’s sudden decision to drop out having only been selected at the weekend has reawakened debate over the forces at work in local politics and the role of the biraderi system where key members of the community are said to effectively wield a bloc-vote.
She initially announced her decision via Twitter although that post was later deleted.
I am unable to fulfil this commitment despite a strong wish to support the Labour Party to victoryEx-candidate Amina Ali
In a statement hours laters, Ms Ali said it had been her “dream” to fight for a Westminster seat for Labour.
She said: “However, I am the mother of two children and despite my best efforts to make arrangements to bring them to Bradford for the next 70 days, particularly as one of them is doing her GCSEs, this would have caused massive disruption at a critical time.
“Bradford West needs a candidate who is going to live in Bradford and be involved in the campaign for every moment of every day and I am unable to fulfil this commitment despite a strong wish to support the Labour Party to victory.”
Labour’s National Executive Committee will take the decision what will happen next with just 70 days to go to polling day.
Conservative candidate for Bradford West George Grant said: “My heart goes out to Ms Ali. She has cited family reasons as the official explanation for her departure, but I think many people here in Bradford suspect there is rather more to it than that.
“I have less sympathy for those behind all this who appear to be trying to take the electorate for absolute fools. It is not clear the extent to which clan politics is behind these events, and indeed if the rot spreads beyond merely the Labour Party in Bradford, but as things currently stand I wouldn’t rule anything out.”
Mr Galloway said Ms Ali’s decision demonstrated “the war inside Bradford West Labour party and she’s retreated from it, badly wounded.”
He said: “New Labour in Bradford is in shambles. Well no change there. This is playing like an outtake from The Thick Of It. Omnishambles doesn’t begin to do it justice.”