Former Labour supporter joins Conservatives

Shazia Bashir, candidate for the North Ward for the Conservative Party at a launch meeting at Amarah's Restaurant  EMN-160701-232054009
Shazia Bashir, candidate for the North Ward for the Conservative Party at a launch meeting at Amarah's Restaurant EMN-160701-232054009
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A former Labour supporter who claims she was pressured into not standing for the party at an election is now vying to become a councillor for the Conservatives instead.

Shazia Bashir said she was chosen to stand in Central Ward in the 2007 Peterborough City Council elections, only for her to be replaced, she claims, because she was a woman.

Blaming “cultural mafia politics” for the deselection, she now wants the process to be taken out of the local Labour Party’s hands. She is now preparing to stand in North Ward after being approached by the Conservatives. All 60 positions on Peterborough City Council are being contested on May 7.

Ms Bashir said: “My father, my family and myself were pressured and the Labour leaders of Central Ward did not support me at all in any shape or form.

“They were saying a female should not stand because dirty politics is not a woman’s game. Then each time an election came up I was pushed back.”

Ms Bashir first aired her claims on Newsnight as part of wider allegations that female Muslims across the country were discriminated against and blocked from seeking office by male Labour councillors.

She added: “I do not have anything against individuals. This is not a personal attack. It’s the game that needs investigating.

“I forgive those who have pushed me back because it only made me a stronger person and to be where I am today.”

Labour did not respond to Ms Bashir’s allegations directly, at the time of going to press, but responding to the Newsnight story a spokesman said: “The Labour Party’s selection procedures include strong positive action procedures such as all-women shortlists and rules to ensure women are selected in winnable council seats. We have the best record of any party in selecting women and BAME [Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic] candidates, and we will continue to do all that we can to make sure candidates are representative of the communities they seek to represent.”