MP Naz Shah to launch legal action against her own party over mayoral shortlist

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A Yorkshire MP is expected to launch legal action against her own party over the selection of a former rival in a mayoral race.

Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities and Bradford West MP Naz Shah will begin the action after Salma Yaqoob was shortlisted to run for Labour to be West Midlands Mayor.

But Ms Shah is disputing the decision to allow Ms Yaqoob to stand after her time in the party did not meet the threshold.

Ms Shah previously spoke out about twice feeling suicidal when Ms Yaqoob ran a “despicable” campaign against her as a Respect Party candidate in 2017.

Leaked emails showed Ms Shah accuse her now Labour colleague of misogyny, patriarchy and clan politics, and that she contemplated suicide during the campaign because of the exploitation of patriarchal politics, known as biradri, among the city's Kashmiri and Pakistani community.

Ms Shah said she was pitted against Ms Yaqoob as "who is the most Muslim" and was "hijab shamed".

Bradford West MP Naz Shah. Photo: JPI Media

Bradford West MP Naz Shah. Photo: JPI Media

And ITV reported how on Monday night Ms Shah told Labour MPs: "She gave a platform for me to be 'hijab-shamed', which I can only equate to 'slut-shaming'. She is no socialist, this is George Galloway-style politics."

Ms Shah is also believed to have taken her concerns to Jeremy Corbyn directly.

The legal action, expected to be launched this week, is understood to focus on Ms Yaqoob’s time in the Labour Party, believed to be around four months.

But candidates normally have to be members for two years before being selected to stand for election.

A Labour Party source said: “Labour’s rule book is clear that the NEC has the power to allow individuals who have not been members for 12 months to stand for selection.

“This often happens in selections when there are no women or BAME candidates. Other than Salma Yaqoob, no women or BAME members put themselves forward for the West Midlands Mayoral race.

“During the New Labour years, several Conservative MPs were allowed to defect to Labour, despite having stood against the Party at the previous election.”

Ms Yaqoob previously said on the 2017 Bradford campaign: “Whilst I accept my decision to stand was ill judged, it was not taken with any intention to cause harm – towards Naz Shah personally or the Labour party. I did not run or endorse a campaign of misogyny, patriarchy and clan politics. Even as a political opponent I showed her respect as a woman and a public figure.”

She added: “As Shadow Equalities and Women Minister, I would hope she would welcome the principle of women coming forward for political office – even those she disagrees with. I am saddened that she is lobbying nationally to limit the right of local Labour members to make their own choice by seeking to remove me from even a potential shortlist.”

Two Labour groups have also raised concerns about Ms Yaqoob, the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and LGBT+ PLP.

Rosie Duffield, Chair of the Women’s PLP said: “It is, among other things, a disservice to [Ms Shah] that the party might allow a woman who bullied and personally targeted her to represent us in an election.”

While the LGBT+ PLP said Ms Yaqoob “has form when it comes to homophobia” and said the party had “made a terrible mistake”.

But Ms Yaqoob has attracted support from grassroots Labour movement Momentum and Leeds East MP and Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon. He said: “Salma's a courageous opponent of racism and war, who inspires people to fight for a better society based on justice, equality and socialism.”

In a statement posted on Twitter on Monday she added: “I stand in full solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and I am absolutely committed to confronting all forms of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”