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World

October 22, 2019

Bradford’s toxic election campaign led Naz Shah to contemplate suicide

World

Tue, Oct 22, 2019

LONDON: The Labour Party MP from Bradford and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Naz Shah has said that she contemplated committing suicide twice in 2017 when Salma Yaqoob ran a hate campaign against her in the general election for the battle for Bradford West.

Speaking to Geo News in the Parliament House, the Labour MP said the campaign by Salma Yaqoob was full of hatred and personal attacks.

“That was a hurtful campaign. That campaign was full of attack on my honour and respect. I thought of committing suicide twice. I was compared with a dog from Salma Yaqoob’s platform. Salma didn’t apologise for those attacks for two years and now she says she couldn’t understand the dialect of the speakers. Everyone knows what a ‘kutta’ means,” said the MP.

Also read:   Naz Shah opposes Salma Yaqoob over ‘despicable’ campaign

Naz Shah was referring to the June 2017 speech made by community leader Pateh Khan, who campaigned for Salma Yaqoob, in his speech at the Khidmat Centre in Bradford West.

He said: “Even when we adopt/buy a dog, we carefully look for its pedigree, lineage and character. What are you looking into her? What is Naz Shah promoting? What does her dress, her lifestyle, her character demonstrate? What will be the impact of her on our next generations? First of all we are all Muslims, all praise be to God.”

The Labour MP said she is not against Salma Yaqoob because she challenged him but because Ms Yaqoob went against the Labour values and indulged in anti-democratic hate politics of bias and discrimination, made false allegations and ran conspiracy theories herself and encouraged her campaign to do the same.

“Salma Yaqoob now says she’s sorry she stood against me. Its not that she challenged me and I am hurt. That was her democratic right. Our politics should be run on policy and not on personal attacks and humiliation, not on how someone appears or what someone’s race or creed is.”

She said: “My character was assassinated. Voters were told not to vote for me because I was a lesser Muslim who didn’t wear hijab. Salma is condemning those attacks now, two years later, but that time she was part and parcel of these attacks.”

The shadow minister said that narrative of hate politics should never enter into the mainstream politics. “We should support and stand for Labour’s values of respect, tolerance, democracy and equality. What Salma did to me had nothing to do with Labour values. That was Respect and George Galloway politics. That kind of politics and hate should have no place in our society. We have too much polarization already in our society.”

Naz Shah has questioned her party over the shortlisting of Salma Yaqoob for the Metro mayoral race. Salma Yaqoob, the former leader of the Respect Party with George Galloway, ran as an independent candidate against Naz Shah in Bradford West in 2017.

Naz Shah has taken up the matter directly with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at a meeting last week.

The Women's Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and LGBT+ PLP written separate letters to the party about Salma Yaqoob's campaign in 2017 and its content.

The Women's PLP wrote to Labour Party: "Ms Yaqoob's campaign against Naz in the last general election should render her ineligible to hold party membership...it is, among other things, a disservice to her that the party might allow a woman who bullied and personally targeted her to represent us in an election."

The LGBT+ PLP has accused Ms Yaqoob of homophobia, including allegedly referring to being LGBT as a "choice of lifestyle”.

In a statement, Salma Yaqoob issued a statement on Twitter and rejected allegations against her as either "false" or "seriously misleading".

"I want to be clear that I stand in full solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and I am absolutely committed to confronting all forms of homophobia, bi-phobia and transphobia in our society," she wrote.

She added: “I would like to move forward in this campaign by recognising the problems of the past, honouring the pain felt on all sides and building collective support to deliver the very best for the people of the West Midlands under the Labour Party. I have always had an open-door policy and have not shied from taking constructive criticisms on board. I would like the opportunity for Naz to see the journey I have been on over the last couple of years, perhaps this is something that I can only demonstrate through actions rather than words.”