Following on from the disgraceful treatment of Diane Abbott, two other labour candidates have been blocked by the party from standing in the upcoming election. They are Faiza Shaheen, the prospective Labour candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green and Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who has represented Brighton Kemptown since 2017. What all three have in common is that they are seen as being on the left of the party and are known supporters of Palestine.  Because of Diane Abbott’s popularity, Starmer was forced to backtrack on his initial decision, but this is just more evidence of the overt and vicious factionalism that is the cornerstone of Starmer’s labour.

All three are hugely popular. Diane Abbott, despite a hostile press, consistently polls 70% of the vote in her constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington. Lloyd Russell-Moyle, took the Brighton seat from the incumbent Conservative Simon Kirby with 28,703 votes to 18,835 in 2017. He achieved this with enormous local support, The PLP had refused to offer any assistance, despite it being one of the smallest Tory marginals at the time. He has continued to be a popular MP ever since.

It should be noted that the Forde Report, published in 2022, found that, “factionalism within the party is so extreme that whole sections of the party view other factions as entirely illegitimate, that is people who should not be in the party at all.” The report also identified institutionalised racism and Islamophobia. Based on recent events it would seem the Starmer faction have found the way to deal with factionalism. Push the other faction – the left, including many Black and minority ethnic members – out of the party entirely.

Faiza Shaheen, an academic and expert on economic inequality has been blocked from standing in Chingford and Woodford Green, the seat she contested so well in 2019. Sarah Chaney from Unite described how she had won the parliamentary selection in 2018 by a near unanimous vote. She recalled how a member turned to her at the time and said ‘we are so lucky that she chose us’. She described her as “a fiercely intelligent and committed woman, with a national profile for combatting inequality and a determination to represent the area she grew up in and oust Iain Duncan Smith once and for all.”  Faiza Shaheen was seen as the ideal Labour parliamentary candidate. She would not stand anywhere other than the constituency she called home.

Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire Faiza said she was in a state of shock, after receiving the email announcing that her candidacy had been blocked. “Look at what they’ve done to me, what they’ve done to Diane (Abbott), to make us grovel and beg – no.” Ms Shaheen told supporters gathered outside a supermarket in Highams Park, north-west London, on Friday evening: “I must be honest – after the way I’ve been treated, I don’t think there’s any way back for me into the Labour Party.” Faiza’s inspirational campaign resulted in her area being one of just six Conservative-held constituencies that saw an increase in the Labour vote in 2019.

There was a clear desperation in Labour’s need to justify not allowing Faiza to stand again for this seat. They reviewed her Twitter history over a ten year period and found over a dozen social media posts supporting Palestine she had liked including one referencing the Israel lobby, and forwarding a video of the famous 2014 sketch by American-Jewish comedian Jon Stewart “We need to talk about Israel. “This is the dumbest thing the UK has done since electing Boris Johnson…” Stewart, told his 1.7M followers.

Lloyd Russell Moyle was blocked from standing for re-election after the party received a “serious complaint” about him. He said the allegations were “vexatious” and “false” but they would conveniently take too long to investigate, barring him from standing in the July election.

Comparing their treatment with that of Luke Akehurst says all we need to know about the factionalism and pro Zionist bias that is now at the heart of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party. Luke Akehurst, a right-wing member of the NEC, a lobbyist for Israel and a stated Zionist, has been parachuted in to represent the safe seat of Durham North.  

 Luke Akehurst is outspoken and controversial. The only difference between him and the people who have been suspended and attacked is that he supports the biased and dominant narrative of the Labour Party. Tweeting praise for the right-wing murdering Netanyahu, describing him as a “huge pragmatist” is obviously acceptable. Explaining, as he did in one interview, how university students are encouraged to support Zionism with offers of trips to Israel, and that he was only excluded because he was a committed Zionist that didn’t need persuading, is obviously not of concern to Starmer. And, outrageously in a 2023 interview, calling the deaths of Palestinians as “incidental” and saying Israel had the right to collectively punish civilians and to bomb civilian locations must be ok because it echoes Starmer’s own thinking.

It is also no wonder that he has been given the prize of a safe seat when he is proudly on record as confirming that the PLP worked constantly to undermine Jeremy Corbyn when he was party leader. It will be of no concern to the people now controlling Labour that this is contrary to party rules and, in theory, punishable by expulsion.

We already know as a result of broken pledges and the rolling back on earlier election promises that Starmer has no honesty or integrity. All he cares about is winning whatever the cost. His behaviour to date suggests a ruthlessness that is deeply worrying in any leader, particularly one who is predicted to win a landslide victory.  When this is coupled with an authoritarianism, where no opposition is allowed, then  this should certainly be of concern to us all.

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