Labour hits back at ‘discrimination’ claims over election prep

The party expects to finalise its list of candidates in March
By Victoria Munro

(credit: James Cracknell)
(credit: James Cracknell)

Waltham Forest Labour has responded to claims it excluded Muslims from becoming councillors by releasing data on the ethnicity of potential candidates for the May local election.

The party faced criticism from the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques (WFCOM), who alleged the interview process had discriminated against the faith and called for an investigation.

A WFCOM spokesperson said they had been told that all but one of 14 Muslims who applied to become a new councillor were refused, while three current Muslim councillors were de-selected.

However, following the criticism, a Labour spokesperson told the Echo that at least five new Muslims applicants made it through the interview process, in addition to some existing Muslim councillors approved to potentially run again.

Data on the ethnicity of 65 people who made it through the interview stage, which includes both new applicants and current councillors, released by the party shows just under half identify as white and just under a quarter identify as Asian.

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In addition, about a fifth of potential candidates identify as black and there is one potential candidate who identifies as Jewish.

While the majority of candidates are middle-aged, the party also advanced ten candidates who are 29 or younger and six who are 70 or older, according to date supplied by the party.

The proportion of male and female potential candidates is approximately equal, with one person identifying as non-binary.

The majority of those approved at the initial interview stage said they were heterosexual and not disabled and the party spokesperson stated they do not record data on religion.

The spokesperson said the data showed previous claims about the interview process were “inaccurate”, adding: “We are proud to have such a diverse panel of potential candidates.”

The candidates will still need to make it through a shortlisting process in their respective wards and be picked by a members’ vote, as only 60 can run in the May election. If Labour wins the same number of seats as it did in the last local election, then 46 will become councillors.

Waltham Forest Labour expects to have its candidates finalised this month and is announcing ward results as they are confirmed via its Twitter.

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