Salma Yaqoob is on BBC Question Time tonight

Salma Yaqoob on BBC Question Time - June 2010

Salma Yaqoob on BBC Question Time

Salma Yaqoob, leader of the Respect party, is appearing on the panel of BBC Question Time tonight.

The show is being broadcast from Plymouth and will be shown on BBC 1 at 10.35pm, after the Ten O’Clock News.

She will be making her sixth appearance on the show’s panel; speaking alongside Jeremy Hunt, Ben Bradshaw, Katie Hopkins and Toby Young.

You can also watch the show after its broadcast on BBC iPlayer and follow the show via Twitter and sms txt. More on the show and this week’s panel here.

Salma Yaqoob is also city councillor for Birmingham Sparkbrook and chair of the Birmingham Stop the War Coalition.

You can watch Salma’s previous appearance on the show, which was broadcast live from Wootton Bassett in December, here.

Labour MP Lynne Jones backs Respect Hall Green candidate Salma Yaqoob

Lynne Jones MP endorses Salma Yaqoob for MP

Lynne Jones MP endorses Salma Yaqoob for MP

‘Retiring Labour MP Lynne Jones has dropped a bombshell on her party by backing a candidate from a rival party to replace her in the House of Commons.

Dr Jones is refusing to vote for Roger Godsiff, the Labour candidate in the Birmingham constituency where she lives.

Instead, she is supporting Salma Yaqoob, high-profile candidate for the Respect Party and a Sparkbrook councillor.

Her announcement is a blow to Labour’s hopes of holding on to the Hall Green constituency, where it was already facing a strong challenge from Respect…’ Continue reading at the Birmingham Post here.

Related articles:

Selly Oak MP Lynne Jones ‘not happy’ over candidateBBC News, 09.04.10

Selly Oak Labour MP won’t support colleague at general electionBirmingham Mail, 09.04.10

Respect’s Yaqoob is best choice claims Labour MPMorning Star, 09.04.10

JONES ENDORSES YAQOOB – WITHOUT ACTUALLY SAYING SOThe Stirrer, 08.04.10

LABOUR MP JONES TO BACK RIVAL PARTYThe Stirrer, 07.04.10

Roger Godsiff fails to turn up at community husting

Meet your Birmingham candidates

Birmingham Respect candidates 2010

Who's your Birmingham Respect candidate?

Who’s standing for Respect in the local and General Elections in Birmingham? Find out more here.  Check back for regular updates.

Why vote Respect?

Investment not cuts

Slashing public spending will only deepen the recession. Instead of the obsession with cuts we need to invest for growth. This will allow Government income to rise and will cut unemployment. That is the best way to reduce the national debt.

Troops out of Afghanistan

Too many lives have been lost. Escalating the conflict will only make things worse. We need to find a peaceful solution.

New Green Deal

Invest in Green technology to save our planet. the UK could create up to 400,000 jobs in new green industries, instead of wasting tens of billions of pounds on ID cards and Trident nuclear weapons.

One Society, Many Cultures

Everyone is equal no matter their race, religion or lifestyle. We are differet, but we are one society. We should not be divided by racism and intolerance.

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For more about the things the Respect party and its candidates stands for, visit: www.therespectparty.net and www.salmayaqoob.com.

Salma Yaqoob for MP

Salma Yaqoob for MP

Salma Yaqoob is standing for MP in Birmingham Hall Green

This May you have the chance to elect a new MP. Salma Yaqoob is a brave and committed campaigner. She will speak up for you.

- Fed up with politicians lining their own pockets?

- Angry at bankers keeping their bonuses?

- Let down by the lies that took us to war in Iraq and Afghanistan?

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She can do it!

In the 2005 General Election, Salma almost won with 10,498 votes.

Lib Dems trailed in THIRD and Conservatives FOURTH.

Only Salma can beat Labour in Birmingham Hall Green!

Labour in trouble – Labour was shocked to have its majority slashed from 16,246 to 3,289 in 2005. Since then they have become even more unpopular.

Lib Dems struggling – Jerry Evans’ vote reduced by half in his own Springfield ward in 2008.

In 2009 they only polled 500 votes in the Sparkbrook by-election. Lib Dems are losing support and cannot win.

For more: www.salmayaqoob.com

Latest Videos: Salma Yaqoob

Here are the latest videos for Salma Yaqoob. For more, visit her official YouTube page here.

Larches Park Community Fun Day

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More <a href=”http://www.salmayaqoob.com/2010/03/amun-needs-your-help.html”>here</a&gt;.


More here.
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Bristol Respect Campaign Team


More here.
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Desi Donors – Amun Ali Appeal


More here.

There IS an alternative to cuts

There is an alternative to cuts, says Respect and Salma Yaqoob

Birmingham City Council cuts alone will slash services and axe up to 7,000 jobs.

Labour, Tories and Lib Dems say there is ‘no alternative’ to cuts. They only disagree on when to wield the knife.

These are the same people who said there was ‘no alternative’ to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is an alternative.

The Robin Hood Tax is one. It calls for a tiny tax on bankers which would have the power to raise hundreds of billions every year.

It could give a vital boost to the NHS, our schools and the fight against child poverty in the UK – as well as tackling poverty and climate change around the world.’

Respect and Salma Yaqoob are supporters of The Robin Hood Tax. We urge you to become a supporter too.

Find out more by visiting www.robinhoodtax.org.uk

Bank Holiday Weekend Campaigning

The 'Salma Yaqoob for MP' election billboard poster is launched

The 'Salma Yaqoob for MP' election billboard poster is unveiled

Support for Salma Yaqoob’s Hall Green election campaign continued this weekend as residents, volunteers and supporters joined the campaign drive in the Birmingham constituency of Hall Green.

As billboards went up, new leaflets were delivered and Salma and her team knocked on doors to speak directly to local residents about their concerns.

Campaigning will be taking place throughout the week and every weekend so if you’d like to help, get in touch by calling: 078 121 72885. Our office is based in Walford Road, Sparkhill B11.

More information: www.salmayaqoob.com

Salma Yaqoob in the community

Here’s a selection of events and causes Birmingham councillor Salma Yaqoob has been highlighting and supporting this past week:

Larches Park Clean Up

Salma Yaqoob with Larches Park Residents Group chair Asghar Ali and local PCSOs Natasha Bruckshaw and Meryl Crawford

Larches Park in Sparkbrook

Both Cllr Salma Yaqoob and Cllr Mohammed Ishtiaq (Respect) have been working closely with Larches Park Residents Group recently to help them improve their local neighbourhood and regain confidence in the use of their local park. Larches Park has been one of the areas that was left neglected for many years and had got pretty run down. Parents didn’t feel comfortable bringing their kids there until now. More here.

Bangladesh Independence Day

Bangladesh Independence Day celebrations in Birmingham (UK) with Salma Yaqoob

Bangladesh Ind. Day

Birmingham’s Bangladeshi community invited Cllr Salma Yaqoob to the Bia Lounge in Small Heath to celebrate Bangladesh Independence Day.

The event also marked International Mother Language Day in celebration of Bangla being the country’s national tongue. More here.

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Salma Yaqoob with parents of children with autism

Salma meets carers

Rewarding Parents

Salma was invited to present certificates to carers of family members of who disabilities. They had completed a seven week course organised by South Birmingham PCT in which they learnt more about understanding and coping with autism. More here.

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Campaigners from Bristol visit Birmingham

Respect Leader Salma Yaqoob with members of Bristol Respect

Bristol Respect team

Members of Bristol Respect and other supporters came to Birmingham to help Salma Yaqoob on her election trail to help her become MP for the Hall Green constituency.

They joined her with leafleting and met with members of the community. More here.

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Desi Donors Amun Ali Appeal

Salma Yaqoob with Ashgar Khan, father of Amun Ali, and Reena Combo of Desi Donors

Desi Donors

Desi Donors have been set up to encourage individuals of south Asian origin to join the national Bone Marrow register to help those in need of a transplant. Working with the Anthony Nolan Trust, Desi Donors have been actively campaigning to save the life of young local school boy Amun Ali. Salma joined the drive in Small Heath, Birmingham and registered herself with over a hundred other volunteers. More here.

Fundraising dinner in aid of orphanages in Pakistan

Salma was the guest speaker at a fundraising dinner in the

Salma Yaqoob at a Pakistani Orphanages Fundraiser in Birmingham

Fundraising for orphans

Crystal Plaza for orphanages in Pakistan. About 600 people were present. Jannat al Ferdous, founded by Shamim Mahmood and family friends, have set up four orphanages in the last five years, helping over 800 Pakistani children. More here.

For more on Salma Yaqoob’s campaigning and council work, visit her website: www.salmayaqoob.com

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Respect join protest against greedy bankers

Citizens of Birmingham join the protests against corporate greed

Citizens of Birmingham join the protests against corporate greed

Last week, Respect party members, councillors and candidates joined a community protest against corporate greed.

Protest against greedy bankers

Protest against bankers

With banners highlighting the issues around banks holding the general population and government to ransom, local residents and community members joined the cavalcade of protest vehicles on the streets of Birmingham to make their voices heard.

Amongst them Respect party leader Salma Yaqoob, Birmingham councillors Mohammed Ishtiaq, Shokat Ali and Respect council candidate for the Hall Green ward, Rana Nazir.

Writing on her website, Salma Yaqoob said: “Today’s protest against bankers greed and their restrictions on credit, which is endangering many small businessess in these tough economic times, was great fun and highly effective!

Birmingham protest against bank credit

Anti-Bank Credit protest in Birmingham


“The media saw us off and we made a big impact in the Sparkbrook and Springfield wards, getting lots of hoots of support from car drivers and waves from well-wishers. Well done to all involved!”

More pictures here and here.
For more information and to join the campaign, visit www.fatcatuk.co.uk

Join Salma Yaqoob in Hall Green

Salma Yaqoob Election

Join the campaign

Salma Yaqoob is regularly taking to the streets on weekends and wants you to support her General Election campaign. Join her and the team as they leaflet wards in the Hall Green constituency and talk to local residents.

You can meet Salma and the team at 11.30am every Saturday and Sunday at Birmingham Respect’s new office on 95 Walford Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham B11 1NP.  There is a map here.

From now to the end of the campaign all of Salma’s campaigning activity will commence from 95 Walford Road in Sparkbrook.

Please come along and bring others. For more info or updates, please call: 07812172887.

Viva Palestina Report Back


Salma Yaqoob was joined at the University of Birmingham yesterday by Viva Palestina Student Officer Fiona Edwards at a Gaza report back and meeting to discuss the plight of the Palestinian people and the struggle for peace in the Middle East.

Chaired by Adam O’Connell (Acting President of the University of Birmingham Friends of Palestine Society); Fiona shared her insight from a recent convoy trip to Gaza and explained how the tunnels were being used to transport food and essential appliances despite the threat of Israeli bombs looming, while Salma discussed the nature of apartheid rule in Israel and how action in cities in the UK was having a direct impact on international opinion.

WATCH:

Salma Yaqoob: Part 1 | Part 2

Fiona Edwards: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Salma Yaqoob’s New Blog

Salma Yaqoob Official Blog Website

Salma Yaqoob's new official campaign blog website

Salma Yaqoob has established a new website, www.salmayaqoob.com, that will be essential reading in the few weeks we have left before the general election, and of course hopefully she will then be able to use the same website to report what she is doing as MP for Birmingham Hall Green!

The Green Party campaign for Salma Yaqoob in Hall Green

The Green Party campaign for Salma Yaqoob

Salma’s general election campaign is well under way. She needs all the support she can get. If you would like to volunteer your help in any way, you make a financial donation online, or ring on 078 121 72885 or email Salma at campaign@salmayaqoob.com

So far there have been the following stories:

Lib Dems mislead public on Sparkhill Baths, a local issue in the constituency, where the Lib Dems are, as they are all too often, being economical with the truth in their election leaflets

An account of meeting Ben White, author of ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide’ (Pluto Press 2009)

Reflections on the government’s failure to tackle inequality

A response to the Chilcot inquiry, with the good news that Respect MP George Galloway will be on BBC TV’s Question Time on Thursday, at 10.35pm. The show is being broadcast from Coventry. Other guests are Clare Short, Lord Falconer and Melanie Phillips.

An account of how members of the Green Party were out campaigning for Salma last weekend (see picture above)

Salma’s own response to the Chilcot inquiry

A tribute to the recently deceased American socialist academic Howard Zinn

and a discussion of the significance of Islam4UK’s provocation in announcing a proposed march in Wootton Bassett, and the importance of there being a debate about the Afghan war in the political mainstream.

George Galloway MP deported from Egypt

Statement from Salma Yaqoob

George Galloway deported

George Galloway MP

‘The decision of the Egyptian government to deport George Galloway MP, and their treatment of those seeking to bring aid to the besieged people of Gaza, is a disgrace.

The Viva Palestina convoy brought desperately needed aid to a population in Gaza subject to a brutal economic blockade by the Israeli government. This blockade was described by the United Nations-sponsored Goldstone report as a form of ‘collective punishment’ against the entire population. Oxfam’s director, Jeremy Hobbs, said that the “world powers have failed and betrayed Gaza’s ordinary citizens” by failing to help bring an end to this blockade. He is right. And Egypt, which borders Gaza, has the ability and the duty to do something positive for the Palestinian people.

Instead, by its obstruction of the Convoy, its brutal assault and tear gassing of its supporters, and now the arrest of Viva Palestina activists and deportation of George Galloway MP, the Egyptian authorities have disgraced themselves in the eyes of the world. Once again they have failed in their humanitarian duty towards their Palestinian neighbours.

I call on supporters of the Palestinian cause to convey their opposition to the deportation of George Galloway to Egyptian representatives, consulates and Embassies throughout the world.’

Salma Yaqoob
Leader Respect Party

Salma Yaqoob: The real debate we should have about Afghanistan

Salma Yaqoob, chair of Birmingham Stop the War, says If we are genuinely concerned about the troops, as we are about the Afghan people, we must have an open debate about why we are in Afghanistan and whether we should pull out.

Wootton Bassett

Crowds watch as the hearse carrying the body of the 100th soldier to die in Afghanistan returns home.

By Salma Yaqoob | guardian.co.uk | 5 January 20105 January 2010

When I was invited to appear on Question Time at Wootton Bassett, I did feel a hesitation because of the programme’s location. I was very mindful of the fact that this is where every soldier who has been killed is honoured and where respects are paid.

Regardless of where you stand politically, their loss is a very real and human tragedy for their families.

But these are more than personal tragedies. Our soldiers and military families put their trust in the politicians who send them into battle. They trust them to tell the truth.

The political tragedy is that, once again, we are fighting a war that is based on lies and that will not make us safe.

So it is necessary to hold our politicians to account for their decisions. And that debate should not be silenced.

There is a subtext that if you support our troops, then you have to support the war itself; because if you question the purpose of the occupation, then you are accused not only of being unpatriotic, but also even of endangering the troops by undermining morale.

That silencing of debate leaves a huge vacuum in our politics, because all three parties back the line that we have to get behind the troops and “finish the job”.

There is also a double standard also about deaths in Afghanistan. On the one hand, with the parades in Wootton Bassett we congratulate ourselves that we’re so civilised that no loss goes unmourned; yet, if you’re Afghan, no one even counts your death.

Afghan suffering

From British politicians there’s absolutely no acknowledgment of Afghan people’s suffering, or the fact that their lives are not better-off because of the west’s intervention – although that is the lie that continues to be told. Thousands have been killed and seven million made refugees, but that’s not on anybody’s radar.

Anjem Choudary

Anjem Choudary

This dignified and serious debate is the last thing on the mind of Anjem Choudary and Islam4UK. He is a bigot whose goal in life is to provoke division. He engages in these provocations because he is deeply hostile to any coming together of Muslims and non-Muslims. For him, the fact that a majority of the British people – Muslim and non-Muslim – oppose the war in Afghanistan is not something to be celebrated, but is something to be feared.

If we are genuinely concerned about the troops, as we are about the Afghan people, we must have an open debate about why we are in Afghanistan and whether we should pull out. Instead, the airwaves are dominated by the rantings of a marginal provocateur.

My experience on Question Time confirms to me the need for a genuinely open political debate, conducted with seriousness and sensitivity. I wasn’t surprised to be received at first in silence, given the programme’s pro-war bias, but by the end, people were saying that the majority was behind me.

I do trust the conscience of ordinary British people, even if I am cynical about our political leadership.

Original article (The Guardian) here.

Stop the War Coalition (STWC) article here.

BBC Question Time | Salma Yaqoob | 10.12.09


Salma Yaqoob defends British soldiers and innocent Afghan civilians against a war which has been irresponsibly and badly managed, left our troops with little protection, security and safety; and seems to have no end in sight.

Salma Yaqoob on Question Time - 10.12.09

Salma Yaqoob

Salma makes reference to Birmingham’s soldiers and their families, highlighting the concerns of wounded soldiers recovering at Selly Oak Hospital in her home city.

“I’m from Birmingham, we have Selly Oak Hospital there and I’m not surprised that more than half of the soldiers, when Gordon Brown visited in September, simply shut their curtains because they feel so let down and I think it’s an absolute disgrace that the Ministry of Defence is actually pursuing wounded soldiers in court to get back compensation; so the idea that you support them and value them is absolute nonsense.

“My issue though is why are we betraying the professionalism, bravery and commitment of our troops by sending them on an ill-conceived and doomed mission in the first place.”

BBC Question Time, the BBC’s premier political debate programme, was

Salma Yaqoob on Question Time - 10.12.09

BBC Question Time

broadcast from Wootton Bassett. The market town in Wiltshire has come into national focus for honouring those who have given their lives in the service of their country.

The panel included the former head of the British Army General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces Bill Rammall MP, the shadow foreign secretary William Hague MP, the former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown, the former newspaper editor Piers Morgan and the Respect Party’s Salma Yaqoob.

Date: Thursday 10th December 2009
Venue: Wootton Bassett School, Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire

Watch the complete show here on BBC iPlayer.

Question Time’s bias on Afghanistan‘ – New Statesman, 11.12.09

An Election Statement from Salma Yaqoob

An election message from Salma Yaqoob

Salma Yaqoob

The General Election is a matter of months away. Once again, this is an election in which only two parties are competing to form a government – Labour or the Tories.

A series of opinion polls have pointed strongly to the defeat of the Labour government. The outcome, however, is not a foregone conclusion. A recent poll suggests that the result will be finely balanced, with a hung parliament a real possibility.

Respect is neither neutral nor indifferent to the outcome of this election. We think that a Tory victory would be a disaster for working people. Yes, New Labour has betrayed the aspirations of its traditional electorate in working class communities, among Black and Asian communities, and among trades unionists. But its strongest support still comes from these communities and the vast majority of the trade union movement will support Labour at the next election. Despite the efforts of the New Labour clique that now dominates the Labour Party, it is still seen by millions of people as a party that looks after the interests of working people – albeit a disastrously right wing example of such a party.

David Cameron

A Tory victory will lead to a massive assault on public services

A Tory victory in the context of a deep economic crisis will herald a deep attack on the welfare state. The Tory obsession with cutting the national debt not only risks a deeper and more prolonged recession, but will inevitably lead to a massive assault on public services and public sector workers. It will represent a much more profound shift to the right in the political agenda. Respect therefore stands with the vast majority of the labour movement in seeking the defeat of the Tory challenge at this election.

Gordon Brown

Labour has demoralised much of its traditional support

Under Blair, and now Brown, Labour have demoralised large parts of its traditional support. Many people have broken from Labour to the left in disgust at Blair’s support for the Iraq war, and New Labour’s subservience to the bankers and privatisers. Respect was born out of the movement against the Iraq war, and we have successfully built a real base in limited parts of the country. We believed then, and believe now, that there is an urgent need for a radical left wing party that can help shift the political consensus towards an agenda of peace, anti-racism and social justice.

In 3 parliamentary seats in Birmingham and East London, Respect is fighting to win. We do not know what the outcome will be, and we are well aware of the difficulties in the way of small parties under a first past the post electoral system. But in these 3 seats we have a genuine chance of victory. We have deep roots and credible candidates. There are only a handful of seats up for grabs in the general election that could conceivably be won by parties to the left of Labour (including the challenge by Caroline Lucas for the Green Party). The most important contribution that we in Respect can make to the left as a whole in the immediate future is to do everything within our power to win these seats.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

We do not believe, however, that a radical alternative can be built by acting in way that allows the Tories – or the BNP – to be the beneficiaries of discontent with Labour or our efforts to build an alternative. In areas where we are highly unlikely to win it is important that we are not seen to be reckless over the consequences of standing in marginal seats where the likely beneficiary would be the Tories. Where we do stand, we want our supporters to know they can express their discontent with the Labour government without handing seats on a plate to the Tories.

Nick Griffin

United against the BNP

We are also in favour of the maximum possible unity against the BNP. Nick Griffin has announced he is standing in Barking and Dagenham. His election to the European parliament was an historic breakthrough for British fascism. But it would be nothing in comparison to a BNP MP. Hard choices have to be made. There is absolutely no prospect of a candidate to the left of Labour winning this seat, and any such candidate could only split the anti-BNP vote.

Abjol Miah

Abjol Miah is standing in East London

Respect will therefore not consider standing in Barking and Dagenham, and call on other left wing parties to do likewise. We are well aware of the way in which New Labour have created the conditions for the BNP to grow, and equally aware that Labour’s candidate, Margaret Hodge, is one of the least palatable New Labour MPs. Nonetheless we call for a vote for the Labour candidate as the only practical way of defeating the BNP.

Respect believes that the interests of working people are best served by working for the maximum unity against a Tory victory in the General Election, while continuing to build left wing alternatives to the Labour Party in the most tactically effective manner.

Salma Yaqoob will be appearing on BBC1’s Question Time, 10.35pm Thursday December 10.

Salma Yaqoob to appear on BBC Question Time

BBC Question Time panel - 10th December 2009 - Salma Yaqoob, Piers Morgan, William Hague

The BBC Question Time panel will include Sir Richard Dannatt, Piers Morgan, Salma Yaqoob, William Hague and Bill Rammell.

Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob is to appear on Question Time this month.

The Birmingham city councillor has been booked for a potentially volatile edition of the BBC’s flagship current affairs show Question Time. The programme will be broadcast from Wootton Bassett, the village famous for giving a respectful send-off to British soldiers who’ve died in Afghanistan.

Others lined up for what is likely to be an emotionally charged show include Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell, the former British commander in Afghanistan General Sir Richard Dannatt, former Tory leader William Hague and Piers Morgan.

Yaqoob has been critical of Britain’s role in the region, but despite smears to the contrary, she has always been careful not to criticise serving troops – instead reserving her ire for the politicians who took us to war. Salma Yaqoob has appeared on the show on a number of previous occasions.

The episode will be broadcast on December 10th, 2009 on BBC One.

Join the Respect Party

Join the Respect Party

Join the Respect Party

The Respect Party’s membership is on the increase. Do you want to be part of a progressive political force in Britain, representing peace, justice and equality?

Be a part of Respect. Click here to join and find out more

One Society Many Cultures – launched in Parliament

One Society, Many Cultures

One Society, Many Cultures

Cross–party political figures, religious leaders, trade unionists and anti-racist campaigners were amongst the individuals who launched a new campaign “One Society Many Cultures” and pledged to stand up against division and hatred, to defend the right to freedom of thought, religion and culture at one of the most diverse events ever held in Parliament.

Speakers at the event included Ken Livingstone, Rt. Hon Sadiq Khan MP – Minister for Transport, Simon Hughes MP, Emily Thornberry MP, Susan Kramer MP, Dr Abdul Bari – Secretary General of Muslim Council of Britain, Rabbi Lee Wax – Jewish Council for Racial Equality, Bruce Kent – Vice President of Pax Christi, Dabinderjit Singh OBE – Sikh Secretariat, Anas Altikriti – British Muslim Initiative, Billy Hayes – General Secretary of Communication Workers Union, Diana Holland – Assistant General Secretary UNITE, Jenny Jones – Green Party London Assembly Member, Salma Yaqoob – Leader of The Respect Party, Pav Akhtar – Chair of Imaan, Weyman Bennet – Love Music Hate Racism, Sabby Dhalu – Unite Against Fascism.

The campaign, which was initiated by Ken Livingstone, aims to bring together people of all faiths and none. It will monitor and respond to discrimination against different communities as well as promote the positive benefits of diversity for the economy, culture and society generally.

Salma Yaqoob, Leader of The Respect Party said:

Salma Yaqoob face

Salma Yaqoob

“This slogan One Society Many Cultures is absolutely necessary now. Black people, Asian people, Irish people and Jewish communities have been demonized at different points at history. If you are Muslim right now in this country, your mental health status, who you sleep with and your political and religious views are being recorded. Black, White, Asian, people of faith and no faith let us take this fight up not just against racism but for equality, for fairness, for everybody.”

More at Progressive London here.

Salma Yaqoob: In Town Without My Car

Salma Yaqoob - Birmingham Friends of the Earth

Councillor Salma Yaqoob, one of the Birmingham's Post's Power 50, takes the bus to town on 'In Town Without My Car Day'.

On Tuesday 22nd September, some of the Birmingham Post’s Power 50 took up the Birmingham Friends of the Earth challenge to show some leadership and give up their cars for the day on In Town Without My Car Day.

Even senior figures at the council pledged their support for the idea and so we are hoping that next year there will be some officially sanctioned events, but, even more importantly, some drastic improvements in public transport provision in Birmingham and in safety measures for cyclists and pedestrians.

A Friends of the Earth volunteer travelled with councillor Salma Yaqoob as she did without her car for the day.

Salma Yaqoob and her kids - Birmingham Friends of the Earth

Salma Yaqoob walking children Mikael and Aslan to school

Pictured here walking children Mikael and Aslan to school, councillor Yaqoob said “Normally taking the children to school and travelling to work in the morning is a last minute rush. We lead such a packed life so we save time in the car. Today it felt good – not driving. I had to do this. We had extra time to chat. Walking is good exercise and it felt like the right thing to do.”

 Continues… Read more at Birmingham Friends of the Earth.

Photographs: Jane Baker / www.greensnapperphotography.com
Copyright © 2009 Jane Baker. All Rights Reserved

Respect Annual Conference 2009

Salma Yaqoob at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

The Respect Annual Conference was held in Birmingham this year.

The Respect annual conference took place in Birmingham on Saturday with 210 delegates attending. The event revolved around the three key themes of our general election campaign: anti-racism and defense of multiculturalism, opposition to the cuts agenda of the mainstream parties, and international solidarity.

The opening session was introduced by Respect party leader Salma Yaqoob. Salma laid into New Labour for creating the conditions under which the BNP has grown; with its attacks on the Muslim community and increasingly anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Salma Yaqoob speaks at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

Salma Yaqoob

She described how, since 9/11, Labour has resisted any examination of the disastrous role of its own foreign policy in creating a homegrown terrorist threat, leaving the impression that there is something intrinsic to the religon and culture of British Muslims that presents a threat to British society. She cited Jack Straw’s attacks on Muslim women who wear niqab; the attacks on mainstream Muslim organisations like the MCB and MAB for “sitting on the sidelines” in the fight against terrorism from the former Secretary for State for Communities, Ruth Kelly; and the Preventing Violent Extremism agenda, now described by Liberty as the ‘biggest spying operation’ since the Cold War.

Delegates at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

Conference delegates

Similarly when Gordon Brown says that he wants ‘British jobs for British workers’, or ‘local homes for local people’, or curbs on immigration, he is stoking the fires of fear and intolerance that the BNP are the primary beneficiaries of. Salma challenged myths about immigrants being responsible for the recession or shortages in housing and concluded by emphasising Respect’s twin track approach in tackling racism: On the one hand, upholding and defending multiculturalism and challenging all forms of racism; and on the other hand, challenging the social inequality that allows the politics of resentment and division to breed.

The following discussion was by far the best of the conference. Not only was the quality of contributions largely very impressive, but they also conveyed a deep sense of commitment to tackling racism and an engagement in that struggle.

George Galloway at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

George Galloway

The second session was introduced by George Galloway, focusing on the recession and the politics of an alternative to economic crisis. Unfortunately, the discussion became distorted by those advocating the yet to be born ‘son-of-No2EU’.

An account of what followed, by an observer from the Green Left, accurately conveyed George’s response: ‘Galloway absolutely hammered No2EU in particular for standing against Peter Cranie in the North West… and refused to entertain any talk of coalition with the son of NO2EU.’ In addition to hammering NO2EU for effectively letting the BNP in (‘if the left had united it would have been Peter Cranie on Question Time not Nick Griffin’) he was scathing about the exaggeration being peddled about son-of-NO2EU. Contrary to claims by Ian Donovan, there were not ‘three national unions’ supporting this initiative; the reality was that three national union secretaries addressed a meeting in a personal capacity on working class political representation. George predicted the FBU would not support any so-called ‘new coalition’ and ridiculed the idea that the Prison Officers Association were now in the vanguard of building a far-left of Labour alternative, saying this would come as a bit of a surprise to any prisoner, especially those black, Irish or Muslim prisoners who had been on the receiving end of dealings with ‘screws’.

A sharp tone was adopted by both George and Salma towards an increasingly marginal current of opinion in Respect that sees our future as part of a coalition of the far left. The tone reflects the degree of frustration with an argument, just 6 months before a General Election, over backing a coalition with no name, no policies and no electoral credibility.

Nick Wrack at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

Nick Wrack

It also reflects a clear difference of strategy. As both George and Salmaexplained, we are focused on building unity and working with others, but we reject the narrow conception of left unity that gives pride of place to organizations with absolutely no popular support. Respect’s former National Secretary, Nick Wrack, came in for particular criticism, with Salma pointing out the irony of his calls for ‘left unity’ when he was one of those insisting that Respect should stand against the Greens in the North-West European region.

The message was delivered loud and clear: we wish all those who want to join the ‘coalition with no name’ well on their journey, and where we can establish friendly relations with any other progressive party or coalition we will do so, but we have an opportunity to advance the left by getting Respect MPs elected. If we fail, it will not be for the want of trying.

Andrew Murray at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

Andrew Murray

The final session was introduced by Andrew Murray who received a standing ovation for his passionate call for opposition to the war in Afghanistan and for Respect to use its strengths to help Stop the War reconnect with its core support. He was followed by Francisco Dominguez from the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, who painted a vivid picture of the Bolivarian revolution 10 years on, the threats it faces, and the importance of international solidarity. Finally, Kevin Ovenden outlined exciting new developments in Palestinian solidarity, describing the way that Viva Palestina was fast becoming a global campaign, finding new and significant support in Malaysia among other places, and deepening its productive relationship with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

Delegates vote at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

Delegates vote

There was genuine and sharp debate at this conference. And the outcome was clear. Respect’s leadership is absolutely determined that the influence of the ultra-left will remain marginal. There is no place for the kind of political sectarianism that is indifferent to a Tory victory or bitterly hostile to cooperation with the Green Party. Such views, often articulated by politically irrelevant grouplets of the far left, are an obstacle to the growth of a radical party of the left. The potential for a serious radical and left-wing party will be determined by its ability to speak to the millions who are essentially disillusioned Labour

Respect Annual Conference 2009

Respect Conference

supporters, and its ability to provide convincing alternatives to the politics of war, racism and cuts.
I fully expect the new National Council, on which the more sectarian voices are a shrinking minority, to drive through this perspective more forcefully in the coming year.

A report by Ger Francis


[Videos for this event will be available soon. Picture gallery on the Birmingham Respect facebook group: here]

Additional reports:

Respect Conference – Andy Newman, Socialist Unity (15.11.09)

Respect Conference in Birmingham today – Derek Wall (Green Party), Another World is Possible (14.11.09)

Salma Yaqoob: Why the EDL march must be banned from Birmingham

“The English Defence League claimed they only came to protest against Islamic extremism but they actually came to spread hatred and division.

One of their ringleaders, Paul Ray, made his intentions very clear when he stated, on TalkSport Radio, ‘his opposition to all Muslims practising their faith in Britain’.

Everyone has a right to their opinions but no one has the right to incite hatred on the basis of faith or race.

I am concerned there is an equivalence being made between these people, who came to provoke trouble, and people who stand against fasicsm and racism. There is no equivalence and it is wrong that people have been allowed to come into the city centre with this intent for trouble.

The fascists wants to see social disorder, especially scenes of violence between Muslim youth and white people, because then they can hold it up as ‘evidence’ of the ‘failure’ of multiculturalism.

Of course, our message is ‘do not be provoked’. We don’t want to see any scenes of violence in our Birmingham city centre; but the reality is they know some of these tactics have worked as in the past in Burnley, Oldham and Stoke where they instigated race riots and since that polarisation, they have benefited in their votes.

I believe the English Defence League’s so-called ‘protests’ are simply a repeat of this formula which they want to bring to Birmingham and other cities across the country.

I call on politicians from all parties, civic leaders and faith representatives to condemn the racist intent behind these so-called demonstrations and also call for the banning of any future such protests in our city.

Luton has also seen protests by the EDL and Casuals United, which have resulted in violence, and the police there have actually responded to a public outcry about this by calling for a ban.

Chief Superintendent Andy Frost, Divisional Commander for Luton police, said:
“The risk the proposed marches pose to public safety has left us with no alternative but to apply for a banning order.”

Alan Johnson, the Home Office Minister, granted this banning order in Luton, because he received over 14,000 letters directly to himself and the Chief Constable there, saying that they wanted a ban.

I urge people in Birmingham to write to Alan Johnson, as well as to the Chief Constable here to urge for a similar ban.

I love being a Brummie, I’m proud that Birmingham is a multicultural and diverse city. Let’s not be divided by the racists.”

To request a ban, please write to:

Alan Johnson MP (Home Secretary): public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Chief Constable Chris Simms (West Midlands Police): contactus@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk

VIDEO: Salma Yaqoob | Public Meeting: Birmingham united against fascism



Birmingham city councillor Salma Yaqoob, joined by Adrian Goldberg, Khalid Mahmood MP, John Hemming MP, Cllr Judy Foster, Chief Insp Adrian Atherley and Apache Indian, calls on the West Midlands Police to ban a march by far-right groups planned for September; following the violence erupted amidst an EDL – Casuals United demonstration on 8th August in the city.

Date: Sunday 23rd August 2009
Venue: Birmingham Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1.

Gallery: Birmingham United against Racism meeting – 23.08.09

Images from the cross-party meeting in the Birmingham Council House calling for a ban on EDL and far-right marches in the city; attended by Adrian Goldberg, John Hemming MP, Khalid Mahmood MP, councillor Judy Foster, councillor Salma Yaqoob, Apache Indian and Chief Insp Adrian Atherley. Chaired by Waseem Zaffar.

More to come…

Police urged to ban far right rally in Birmingham

An English Defence League (EDL) supporter taunts police. Image: Birmingham Mail

An English Defence League (EDL) supporter taunts police. Pic:Birmingham Mail

West Midlands Police have been urged to step in and ban a far right group from holding a march in Birmingham next month to avoid a repeat of the shocking scenes of violence witnessed earlier this month.

White nationalist organisation The English Defence League (EDL) and an associated group, Casuals United, are due to hold a rally against Islamic extremism in the city on September 5.

Their first demonstration on August 8 ended with violence and bloodshed as supporters clashed with anti-racism campaigners.

One of those calling for a ban was Respect councillor Salma Yaqoob, who expected more street violence if EDL returned.

“When it comes to public safety we have every right to intervene,” she said.

“But the ‘just stay away’ message we are hearing won’t wash with today’s Muslim youngsters who won’t put their heads down and carry on walking when they are subjected to racist taunts – they will react and fight back.”

Adrian Goldberg, Khalid Mahmood MP and John Hemming MP also attended the public meeting calling for an EDL ban.

Adrian Goldberg, Khalid Mahmood MP and John Hemming MP also attended the public meeting calling for an EDL ban. Pic: John Tyrrell

Yesterday, those at a public meeting to discuss how the city should deal with the group’s next visit voted unanimously that the police should have the demonstration banned.

West Midlands Police were urged to join forces with Birmingham City Council to apply to the Home Secretary for a banning order under the Public Order Act.

Luton is one of the places which has banned the EDL and other right-wing groups from holding marches for three months to avoid violence.

But a senior police officer said there were no current plans to do so as the EDL had a legitimate right to hold its march.

The Birmingham rally saw 35 people arrested, and running battles between protesters and police in riot gear in Victoria Square and New Street.

Chief Insp Adrian Atherley, head of West Midlands Police’s diversity and community cohesion unit, told yesterday’s meeting how both groups involved, the EDL and the Anti Facist League, acted within the law and the problem lay with their supporters.

“The people fighting were Brummies fighting each other. Why? Because they had been wound up and provoked by the groups who had left by then,” he said.

He said to obtain a ban they would have to jump through numerous legal and bureaucratic hoops.

“We have considered it, but section 13 of the Public Order Act is very specific about marches,” he said.

“In Birmingham the situation is very different to Luton where the Chief Constable felt he could not police that event. We did not lose control on August 8 , there were no major injuries or damage, and in terms of disorder there was no loss of control.”

He added: “Obtaining a section 13 ban requires the Chief Constable to go to the local authority to say in the event of a march I cannot police the streets and the local authority has to apply to the Home Secretary.”

But he said their decision was constantly reviewed and he would feed back comments to the Chief Constable.

Also at the meeting was Birmingham councillor Judy Foster, vice-chairman of the West Midlands Police Authority, who said she would be raising the issue of a ban during a meeting with the Chief Constable Chris Sims today.

Source article:  Police urged to ban far right rally in Birmingham - Birmingham Post, 24.08.09

Link: Why the next Brum anti-Muslim march should be banned - John Tyrrell, The Stirrer, 25.08.09

Link: Police urged to ban far right rally in Birmingham - Birmingham Mail, 24.08.09

Link: Ban call for anti-Muslim march – The Stirrer, 24.08.09

Link: Birmingham United, anyone? – The Stirrer, 18.08.09

Birmingham city centre riots: Police and politicians meet to discuss events

Salma Yaqoob at the UAF protest in Birmingham

Salma Yaqoob with supporters at the UAF protest in Birmingham

THE scuffles and clashes which followed recent anti-extremism demonstrations are under the spotlight at a public meeting featuring city MPs and community leaders this weekend.

Rival protests – one by anti-Islamic extremism campaign group the English and Welsh Defence league and the other by the UAF or Unite Against Facism – brought scenes of chaos to Birmingham City Centre two weekends ago and resulted in 33 arrests.

Now a group of community activists have called a public meeting aimed at Birmingham’s young people tomorrow to respond to the problems before a second series of protests are held on September 5.

Among guest speakers are Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood, Yardley MP John Hemming, Sparkbrook Councillor Salma Yaqoob and a representative from West Midlands Police.

Co-organiser Wasim Zaffer, a Muslim and magistrate, said: “Following the disgraceful events in Birmingham City Centre, there has been immense discussion and debate in a number of forums. However, we feel that there has been a lack of engagement with young people from across the city.

“Scenes of young people, white and Asian, running through streets does nothing for Birmingham and reflects badly on our community relations. We need to discuss, debate and encourage a peaceful form of activity against any fascist elements, including encouraging young people to stay away from the City Centre.”

Source Article: Birmingham city centre riots: Police and politicians meet to discuss events – Birmingham Mail, 22.08.09

Kill threat to Birmingham councillor

The accused, Stuart Collins, made a threat to kill Cllr Salma Yaqoob (pictured)

The accused, Stuart Collins, made a threat to kill Cllr Salma Yaqoob (pictured)

A MAN appeared in court yesterday charged with threatening to kill a Birmingham councillor.

Stuart Collins, 48, of Birmingham, appeared before city magistrates over claims abusive threats were sent to Respect councillor Salma Yaqoob.

She is the councillor for Sparkbrook and her party’s national leader.

A West Midlands Police spokesman confirmed: “Following an investigation, a 48 year-old has been charged with racially aggravated harassment, religiously aggravated harassment and making threats to kill.

“He appeared at Birmingham Magistrates Court and was bailed until August 31.”

Coun Yaqoob chairs the anti-war movement in Birmingham and is an active pro-Palestinian campaigner.

She is an outspoken commentator on Muslim issues, and regularly appears on TV and radio current affairs programmes.

After standing as a Respect candidate in the 2005 election, she was elected in the Sparkbrook ward in the 2006 local elections.

Source article: Kill threat to Birmingham councillor – Tony Larner, Sunday Mercury, 16.08.09

Link: Man appears in court over threats to kill Sparkbrook councillor – Birmingham Mail, 16.08.09

Link: UK: Racist threatens councillor with death – Sameh A. Habeeb, The Palestine Telegraph, 19.08.09

Man appears in court over threats to kill Sparkbrook councillor

Cllr Yaqoob calls for better security following driver murder in city

Mohammed Arshad

Mohammed Arshad

Over 200 private hire drivers and operators attended a meeting in the Birmingham’s Council House  on 11th August, to voice their concerns about driver safety.

The event was organised by Respect Cllr Salma Yaqoob following the murder of cab driver Mohammed Arshad (pictured left) two weeks ago and was addressed by union and police representatives, licensing chiefs and city councillors.

The meeting commenced with a minute’s silence in memory of the 36-year-old father-of-three who, according to the meeting chairwoman Cllr Salma Yaqoob, was a “completely innocent man killed in a most disgusting and brutal way”.

Cllr Yaqoob explained that she called the meeting because since Mr Arshad’s murder she had been inunduated with calls from taxi-drivers concerned about the safety of their profession and anxious that the city authorities were not taking those concerns seriously enough.

Birmingham taxi drivers congregate in the city's Council House

Birmingham taxi drivers congregate in the city's Council House

Drivers complained that they were treated like ‘second class citizens’ by the Police. Racist abuse and assault was a common experience yet when drivers these the response was poor. Two senior West Midlands Police officers present apologised for the inconsistent response of the police and agreed to take the message of the meeting back to the “very top”.

Cab drivers have called for new measures to protect themselves including security cameras, safety screens, convex mirrors, a police hotline and a city-wide blacklist of violent customers. City council head of licensing Pete Barrow added that such measures can ‘be allowed by the licensing committee, but there is still the problem of cost. We will see if there is funding for at least a contribution to the costs.”

Cllr Salma Yaqoob with Perviz Khan and Waseem Zaffer

Cllr Salma Yaqoob with Perviz Khan and Waseem Zaffer

Wasim Zaffer, of the Unite union representing cab drivers, said that private hire adds £3 billion a year to the UK economy.

“It should stop being treated like a third-rate industry. There are more than 5,000 drivers in Birmingham, we need to have our concerns heard,” he said.
Both he and Cllr Salma Yaqoob reteriatied the need for private hire drivers to join a union. One driver commented that if the authorities did not respond to their concerns cabbies would ‘strike and bring the city to a standstill’.

The meeting ended with a commitment from Cllr Yaqoob to reconvene again shortly to review what action had been taken on the proposals of the cab drivers.

Article: Cabbies in call for beter security after driver stabbing in Birmingham - Neil Elkes, Birmingham Post, 11.08.09

NEWS: Birmingham EDL Protests – 08.08.09

Multicultural Birmingham comes out in full force against far-right troublemakers

Multicultural Birmingham comes out in full force against far-right threat

Below are a few useful links to news stories relating to last week’s English Defence League protest in Birmingham City Centre and Unite Against Fascism’s counter-protest, in which Respect party leader and Birmingham City Councillor Salma Yaqoob spoke against racism and fascism.

Councillor Salma Yaqoob commented:

“The instigators of this demonsrtration are fascist thugs. They are coming to our city with one intention only;  to sow racist division by stirring up anti-Muslim hatred.

“One of their ringleaders made their intentions very clear when he publicly stated his opposition to ‘all Muslims practising their faith in Britiain’, and admitted links with the BNP.

“The police have assured me that they will deal with any troublemakers. I am concerned, though, that the West Midlands Police are playing down the racist nature of this protest, and the links the protesters have with far-right organisation. Everyone has a right to voice their opinions, but no-one has the right to incite hatred against others on the grounds of race or religion. It is very important that the West Midlands Police act firmly to deal with any incitement to racist hatred.

“Birmingham is a multi-cultural city and proud of it. It is also important that people of all faiths and cultures stand together in the spirit of peace and unity. We must show these people that they are not wanted here, and that Birmingham will not be divided by race or faith”.

LATEST NEWS:

Right wing rioters threaten more protests in Birmingham city centre – Birmingham Mail, 17.08.09

Anti-Extremist protests in Birmingham: racism takes to the streets - Charlie Salmon, The Sikh Times, 11.08.09

Salma Yaqoob condemns racist protesters - Pakistan Daily, 10.08.09

Battle of Bimringham: 35 held after riots – Louisa Pilbeam, The Mirror

City of Birmingham in UK sees anti-fascist action – Pakistan Daily, 10.08.09

Birmingham sees anti-Fascist action – The Stirrer, 09.08.09

‘Patriot League’ plans more clashes with anti-fascist activists – The Guardian, 09.08.09

Police review anti-Islamic rally – BBC News, 09.08.09

35 arrests in Birmingham after rival protesters clash – The Telegraph, 09.08.09

Arrests at Anti-Islamic protests – BBC News, 09.08.09

The Resignation of Councillor Nahim Ullah Khan

Respect party Leader Salma Yaqoob has issued a statement as follows

“A by-election will soon be called in Sparkbrook ward, Birmingham following the resignation of Councillor Nahim Ullah Khan.

Due to personal financial difficulties Nahim is being subjected to Bankruptcy Restrictions Orders and can no longer continue to serve as a councillor. Our thoughts and best wishes are with Nahim and his family in the difficult times they now face.

I am sorry that the residents of Sparkbrook will have to go back to the polls to elect a new councillor. From 2006 they have given their support to the Respect Party in three successive elections. We are deeply appreciative of that support and are committed to working hard for the best interests of all the people of Sparkbrook.

Respect will be selecting a candidate to contest the by-election shortly.”

Politics in Birmingham… A Laughing Matter?

OBV: Politics in Birmingham... A Laughing Matter

OBV: Politics in Birmingham... A Laughing Matter?

Salma Yaqoob will be speaking at the ‘Politics in Birmingham… A Laughing Matter?‘ event at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery tomorrow. She will be joined by comedienne Shazia Mirza, Simon Woolley, James Robertson and Steve Brooks.

The event will take place at the Obama’s People Exhibition where there will be a great opportunity to view the exhbition privately and enjoy a good Friday night out with comedy, complimentary refreshments, drinks and canapes.

Spaces are limited but if you would like to attend the free event, organised by Operation Black Vote, call Jyoti on: 0208 983 5460.

EVENT: Politics in Birmingham… A Laughing Matter?

Date: Friday 17th July, 2009

Time: 6.00pm – 9.00pm

Venue: The Obama’s People Exhbition, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH

Salma Yaqoob and Imran Khan in Birmingham

Salma Yaqoob and Imran Khan on the BBC's 'This Week' show

Salma Yaqoob and Imran Khan on the BBC's 'This Week' show

Cricket legend and Pakistani politcian Imran Khan will be joined by Respect party leader and Birmingham city councillor Salma Yaqoob in Birmingham tomorrow to speak on the current political and humanitarian situation in Pakistan.

The event, organised by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf UK, hopes to raise awareness of the crisis in the South Asian country and to encourage the British population, especially the large Pakistani community in the city of Birmingham, to support calls for peace and stability in the region.

EVENT:

Date: Friday 17th July, 2009

Time: 6.00pm

Location: Pearl Palace, Upper Trinity Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B9 4EG

Details: Free Entry

Salma Yaqoob: Tackling the ‘cancer’ of BNP fascism

Nick Griffin: the leader of the BNP has admitted defeat after failing to find enough far-Right allies to form a new bloc in the European Parliament

Nick Griffin: the leader of the BNP has admitted defeat after failing to find enough far-Right allies to form a new bloc in the European Parliament

The election of two BNP MEPs has removed the cover on a political sewer that should have been sealed for all time. Nick Griffin, a man with a history of anti-Semitism and holocaust denial, now calls for “chemotherapy” against the Islamic “cancer” in Europe (1). The echoes of the past are deliberate. The choice of words is chilling.

Griffin’s election has given the BNP unprecedented access to the media, and he is using it to promote the most vicious racism. His genocidal rantings towards Muslims followed his call (2) for the sinking of ships carrying migrants from Africa to Europe – in other words the premeditated murder of men, women and children on a desperate voyage to escape poverty and oppression.

We should remind ourselves that almost 1 million people voted for the BNP in the European Elections. If there is a cancer in Europe, then it is the cancer of racism. Yet the response from the political establishment to Griffin’s remarks has, so far, been less than overwhelming.

Defensiveness and political compromise has marked the response of mainstream parties to the rise of the BNP. It should be clear enough by now. This is not a temporary blip before we return to business as usual. Ignoring the BNP or playing down their successes will not make them go away. It is time for the anti-fascist movement to go on the offensive.

Griffin’s Nazi-style outbursts cannot be dismissed as an irrelevant excess by a marginal figure. He knows what he is doing. He wants to make legitimate what was once illegitimate. He aims to shift the centre of gravity of political debate sharply to the right. He knows that his more extreme rhetoric is in tune with his party’s membership, and large swathes of his voters. But he also knows that every time mainstream politicians bend to his agenda in an attempt to occupy ground he is staking out, that the racist argument is strengthened.

It is a pattern we have seen all too frequently in recent years. Faced with a rise in racism, politicians seek to ride both horses at once: deploring racism while conceding ever more political ground to the far right.

Isn’t this exactly what Gordon Brown was doing when he called for “local homes for local people”? (3). Concerns about housing are undoubtedly genuine. There are too few affordable homes. But that is because successive governments have relied on the market to provide what it patently cannot do. What should be done is to tackle this policy failure, which would provide affordable homes for all those in need. Furthermore, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has revealed that 9 out of 10 social housing residents were born in Britain, giving a lie to the BNP myths bout “local people” losing out to immigrants and asylum seekers (4). Instead of focusing on these realities, voters are told that their prejudices are justified and that the government will do what the BNP cannot. It is a tactic that is both cynical and ineffective.

Let us be clear. The response to Griffins call to “sink the boats” cannot be one of pledging to do everything possible to keep out immigrants short of launching missiles at defenceless people. His call for “chemotherapy” against Muslims must be met with robust challenge, and not by conceding that fears of Islam in Europe are justified. The alternative is to accept that ever more extreme and dangerous fascist rhetoric will define the nature of political debate in our society.

Those who promote fear and hatred of African immigrants knocking at our door, or of the Muslims already within the gates of Europe, have to be openly and directly confronted. Their arguments have to be dealt with head on.

It is not legitimate to blame migrants or refugees for the recession. They were not the ones who became rich beyond anyone’s dreams while gambling away our economy. It is not legitimate to blame immigrants for rising unemployment. They did not close our factories and devastate our manufacturing base. It is not legitimate to blame ‘outsiders’ for the housing crisis (5). They are not the ones who passed legislation that strangled the ability of local councils to build new housing on the scale we need.

And it is not legitimate to scapegoat Muslims, who represent just 3% of the population, for any supposed threat to British identity. The recent Gallup poll on Muslim integration (6) revealed that while only half the UK population very strongly identifies with being British, 77% of Muslims did so. And only 17% of British Muslims wanted to live in an area consisting mostly of people of the same religious and ethnic background as themselves, compared to 33% of the population as a whole.

This is the positive side of our multicultural society. Being ‘different’ is not a sign of alienation from society as a whole. Yet while Muslims increasingly identify with Britain and value its mix of people and faiths, more and more people conclude that Muslims are a breed apart. There is a gulf between the reality of our lives and the perception that is created by a constant stream of horror stories.

Today, it is anti-Muslim racism that is at the cutting edge of the fascist strategy. It is effective because it feeds on the suspicion and prejudice that is the theme of so much mainstream discussion of our lives as British Muslims.

Its consequences are real. Already, there are signs that attacks on mosques and individual Muslims may be rising (7). The police are warning of the danger of far-right terrorism (8). And, earlier this month we saw an openly racist provocation in Birmingham city centre, under the guise of a protest against “Islamic extremism” – a label that the organiser made clear applied to all Muslims (9).

We, as British Muslims, have a direct and immediate interest in defeating this fascist threat. The anti-fascist movement must reach out to Muslim communities who are at the sharp end of BNP attacks. But the rise in racism is not only a threat to Muslims. The BNP may be playing down their anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism in order to drive a wedge between Muslims and the rest of society. But to the BNP we are all “racial foreigners”, (10) our very existence as British people denied.

We have to not only unite all those targeted by the BNP, with every possible ally who rejects racism and fascism. We have to also positively assert our multicultural and pluralist society. It is a message of hope that is in tune in an increasingly interconnected world. It is a source of strength and vibrancy. We are one society and many cultures. And we will only remain so if we are prepared to stand up and be counted.

Salma Yaqoob is councillor for Birmingham Sparkbrook, Leader of the Respect party and chair of the Birmingham Stop the War Coalition.

Balsall Heath in carnival mood

Salma Yaqoob at the Balsall Heath Carnival (Photo courtesy of Paulo Riddle)

Salma Yaqoob at the Balsall Heath Carnival (Photo courtesy of Paulo Riddle)

Birmingham Sparkbrook councillor Salma Yaqoob joined hundreds of carnival revellers in this years Balsall Heath Carnival.

There were a wide array of stalls on display including Balsall Heath Local History Society. If you missed it this year, make sure you don’t next year!

More information and pictures here.

Salma Yaqoob | Broken Silence: Gangs, Guns and Drugs

City councillor for Birmingham Sparkbrook – Salma Yaqoob – appears on Brit Asia TV’s flagship socio-political community programme Broken Silence, presented by Sanyya Gardez. This week’s show addresses ‘Drugs and Gangs’.

Date: Tuesday 30th June 2009 | 9.00pm
Channel: Brit Asia TV, Sky channel 833 (UK)
Footage copyright and courtesy of Brit Asia TV Ltd.

‘Gordon Brown’s BNP-favoured immigrant claim is a myth’, says Salma Yaqoob

By Salma Yaqoob

Gordon Brown's immigrant claim is a myth

Gordon Brown's immigrant claim is a myth

Gordon Brown’s pledge to provide “local homes for local people” is based on a myth. And it is the same myth spread by the BNP for years. The BNP claim that “local people” are losing out to immigrants and asylum seekers. This is not true.

The Prime Minister is trying to win back voters from the BNP by telling them that their prejudices are justified. Every time this has been tried it only strengthens their arguments and gives them credibility. We have to challenge their lies with facts, and not back down in the face of racism.

Research has now shown that 90% of people in social housing were born in Britain. New arrivals represented less than 3% of the total. The big majority of new arrivals to the country end up in expensive and poor quality private rented accommodation. They are not the cause of the housing shortage.

The real source of the problem is the desperate shortage of affordable homes. Over four and a half million people are in need of social housing in the UK, including 35,000 in Birmingham alone. Gordon Brown’s new policy will not give homes to the millions who are waiting, and will only cause further resentment and division.

When the Tories were last in power they destroyed the ability of councils to build new homes. The best homes were sold off under the Right to Buy and were not replaced. When Labour was elected it had the chance to reverse this and failed to do so.  It stopped local councils from borrowing the money needed to provide affordable homes, and it starved them of cash for repairs and improvements as part of their policy of selling off council estates.

This housing crisis has not been caused by immigration. It has been caused by Tory and Labour politicians who have dismally failed to invest in affordable housing over decades.

Gordon Brown has now announced a new house-building programme. But it is too little and too late. His plans include proposals for an extra 3,000 council houses. With only 375 council homes built in England last year, and millions of people queuing for them, it is a drop in the ocean. We need an urgent programme of building on a massive scale, something that the government has failed to deliver.

Many people are angry about the failure of both Tory and Labour governments to solve the housing crisis. Many more people despair at ever finding a home they can afford. The BNP is exploiting this anger and despair.

The housing crisis will not be solved by blaming immigrants. It will only be solved if our politicians invest in producing the homes that we need.”

‘Queue jumping immigrants’ are a myth, says studyThe Independent

Salma Yaqoob rejects 7/7 conspiracy theories

Salma Yaqoob rejects 7/7 conspiracy theories

Salma Yaqoob rejects 7/7 conspiracy theories

The BBC2 programme The Conspiracy Files, broadcast yesterday on 30th June, examined the spread of conspiracy theories about the 7/7 bombings, and the arguments contained in the DVD The Ripple Effect.

Dr Mohammed Naseem

Dr Mohammed Naseem

The programme included scenes of a meeting held at Birmingham Central Mosque in which Dr Mohammed Naseem argued that “The Ripple Effect is more convincing than the government statement”.

Respect party leader and Birmingham City councillor Salma Yaqoob rejects these conspiracy theories:

“We do not need conspiracy theories to understand the 7/7 bombings. Two of the bombers left video messages explaining exactly why they carried out this terrible atrocity. The government may be in denial about the fact that its war in Iraq encouraged terrorism at home. But we have to face facts.

“Four young men, angry at our government’s foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, lost any sense of humanity and inflicted terrible suffering on innocent people. We have to confront and challenge those who justify and encourage these crimes, and we have to put an end to the injustice caused by our foreign policy that creates such a well of bitterness and hatred.

“There is a growing tendency throughout the world for many people to doubt anything that they are told by official sources. Trust in political institutions has been eroded and few people believe that those in power are honest and truthful. Many Muslims feel that almost everything they read about themselves in the media is false or hostile. And we know that the government lied about something as serious as the reasons for going to war in Iraq.  This is fertile ground for the growth of conspiracy theories.

“An open and public enquiry into the Iraq war, that does not seek to protect the reputations of those who led us into this disastrous conflict, might go some way towards undermining these conspiracy theories and focussing attention on the real issues.”

Salma Yaqoob in the frame for 2009 Power 50 List

Salma Yaqoob is up for the Birmingham Power 50 List 2009

Salma Yaqoob is up for the Birmingham Power 50 List 2009

 

Respect party leader and Birmingham city councillor Salma Yaqoob is again in the frame for the Birmingham Post’s Power 50 List for 2009.

 

Read more here.

Respect leader backs new council homes

Salma Yaqoob is backing new council homes in Birmingham

Salma Yaqoob is backing new council homes in Birmingham

Birmingham city councillor Salma Yaqoob has backed a Conservative initiative to build new council homes in Birmingham, following the Labour government’s to build a single new council home in the city in 12 years.

Conservative John Lines unveiled the new Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust last week and set out the target of building 500 new council owned houses a year by 2011.

Salma said: “It is a sad indictment of this Labour Government, which claims to represent those in need, has only built 375 council homes in the UK over the last year and a Conservative in Birmingham will build 500 a year.”

Read the full article here.

Britain: appreciation for Obama’s nuanced view of ‘Muslim-majority countries’

‘The absence in his speech of any bellicose threats to Iran stands in stark contrast to his predecessor,’ says a Muslim politician in Birmingham.

By Ben Quinn | Contributor 06.04.09 |Christian Science Monitor

LONDON – In Britain, home to one of Europe’s largest Muslim communities, as well as many members of the Arab diaspora, there was a mixed but generally positive reaction to President Obama’s speech.

“I think he has good intent but people do want to see action,” said Yahya Birt, a trustee of the City Circle, a London-based networking group whose members are mainly young British Muslim professionals.

“He has to show that he really is an honest broker with regard to Israel and Palestine. People here are going to be talking about the speech, because he has been a transformative president and people had been looking forward to the speech,” added Mr. Birt, an editor at a publishing house.

“One concern I would have would be in relation to this call for democracy. He was making that appeal in Cairo, in a country whose regime has been unelected for decades and is very repressive. Does realpolitik of security still trump the push for democracy?”

In England’s second-largest city, Birmingham, a cultural melting pot where more than 16 percent of the population identify themselves as Muslim, the speech also received a cautious welcome from Salma Yaqoob, a city counselor for the left-wing, antiwar Respect Party.

“The absence in his speech of any bellicose threats to Iran stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, George W. Bush, as do his comments about the ‘intolerable’ situation facing the Palestinians,” she said.

Many Muslims in Britain are of South Asian origin and are alarmed at how the US intervention in Afghanistan is also destabilizing Pakistan. “The sooner there is progress to redress the injustice of the Palestinians and end the occupation of Afghanistan, the quicker a new chapter can be written,” Ms. Yaqoob added.

Ajmal Masroor, a London imam involved with the Islamic Society of Britain, said that Obama’s address was a step in the right direction, commending the president for adopting a “reassuring tone.”

“He made it very clear that the suffering of Palestinians must end. On balance, the speech was very fair, so I think that Muslims will now be prepared to give him a little more time to see if he can walk the walk as well as talk the talk,” Imam Masroor said.

If he had a criticism, however, it was that Obama had failed to address the poor record on human rights and democracy by many Arab “dictators and despots,” including the government of Egypt itself.

The speech also went down well among an invited audience at the US Embassy, according to Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent for the Guardian newspaper.

“I think that people were impressed and the reaction was generally positive, because he was basically doing something that Bush would never do,” she said.

“For much of the first half of the speech, there were a lot of comments which were very general in nature, but then he started to talk about Al Qaeda, then about Israel and Palestine, and about Iran, which I thought he would not do.”

Overall, she expected that British Muslims would take notice.“I think that people here on the street will be talking about it because it has been very eagerly awaited. But how people judge what he had to say will ultimately come down to whether he follows through on his words with actions.”

The Quilliam Foundation, a London-based counterextremism think tank made up of former Islamist activists, described the speech as “groundbreaking and courageous.”

Welcoming a “nuanced but significant change” in Obama’s language, it added that he “avoided any use of the term ‘the Muslim world’ and instead adopted ‘Muslim-majority countries’ and ‘Muslim communities.’ ”

The statement continued, “There is no monolithic ‘Muslim community,’ nor is there a singular homogeneous entity known as ‘the Muslim world,’ rather there are diverse and distinctive Muslim communities that need to be reflected in our discourse. Using the term ‘the Muslim world’ only serves to bolster the Islamist and Al Qaeda narrative of ‘the West’ against ‘Islam’ – of a battle of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ or ‘good’ versus ‘evil.’

“By omitting this, Obama has taken a positive step in the battle of ideas and in realizing his promise that America is not fighting a war against Islam.”

Source article here.

Stop the Racist Nazi BNP – Birmingham Protest tonight

UAF and other anti-BNP protesters in Manchester last night

UAF and other anti-BNP protesters in Manchester last night

 

‘Stop the Nazi BNP’ protest in Birmingham TONIGHT5pm

No to fascists representing us in Europe!
 
Date: Tuesday 9th June, 2009
Time: 5pm – 7pm
Location: High Street (Meet outside Zavvi/Waterstones), Bullring, Birmingham.

Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/event.php?eid=104673371440
 
Organised by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) and others. 

All welcome, please attend.

Salma Yaqoob: BNP victory shows the need for broad left to work together

The BNP have gained two seats in the European parliament

The BNP have gained two seats in the European parliament

Statement on the euro-election results by Councillor Salma Yaqoob, Respect party Leader:

“The historic scale of Labour’s defeat at the ballot box is evidence of the deep betrayal felt by those who once voted Labour in the hope of a fairer society. The depth of disillusionment with the mainstream parties is underlined by the shocking breakthrough made by the BNP.

“Labour is wholly to blame for its own crisis and has to take a large share of the responsibility for creating the conditions in which the far right is growing.

Labour’s failure to deliver for its core support has helped the BNP win votes in deprived white working class communities

"Labour’s failure to deliver for its core support has helped the BNP win votes..."

“Labour loosened the rules that gave licence to greedy bankers to gamble away our jobs and homes. Labour failed to protect our public services from wasteful and costly privatisation. Labour has overseen growing inequality and a chronic shortage of affordable housing. And Labour failed to tackle the scandal of MP’s expenses.

“Labour’s failure to deliver for its core support has helped the BNP win votes in deprived white working class communities. Labour’s determination not to be outflanked by the Tories on questions of race and immigration has created fertile ground for racist arguments to win support. Too many BNP arguments have been legitimised by a political consensus that treats asylum seekers and immigrants as a criminal threat. The BNP has fed on the growth in Islamophobia, egged on by a barrage of racist coverage in national newspapers. Political ground was conceded to the BNP, and they have occupied it to devastating effect.

“Labour has betrayed the hopes of millions of people who believe in a fairer and more equal society and those who believe in an ethical foreign policy based on peace and justice. These election results are a warning of the potential scale of the drift to the right.

British National Party leader Nick Griffin

British National Party leader Nick Griffin

“This right wing threat cannot be confronted by conceding the argument in advance. There is every practical and political reason for tackling the recession by extending state intervention, piling investment into a massive programme of house building, taxing the richest to support the big majority of the population through this recession. But a recent survey showed that more than half the working population have seen a cut in pay, reductions in hours or a loss of employment benefits since the recession began. While bankers and shareholders have been bailed out, millions of workers are paying for the economic crisis through lower pay, longer hours or unemployment. The Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and UKIP are all competing with each other on who will push through the most ruthless cuts to public spending.

“Giving ground to a right wing consensus will not undercut the growth of right wing parties. It will only encourage them. It is now critical that the broadest swathes of the left and progressive opinion in this country work together to lever the political agenda in the opposite direction.
We need an alternative to failed free market dogma.

“We need an alternative to an electoral system that disenfranchises the millions of people who don’t vote for the winning party and consigns whole geographical areas to be taken for granted. And we need a reassertion of a politics embedded in principles of peace, social justice, equality and anti-racism.

“The broad left must work together, irrespective of party affiliation, to maximise the impact of the progressive vote at the next General Election.

“I am proud of the contributions that Respect members made by supporting Green candidates in the West Midlands and North West. In the North West, with BNP leader Nick Griffin on the brink of a breakthrough, the choice was surely clear. For those who would not give their vote to Labour, the Green candidate – Peter Cranie – was more than a credible alternative. A left-wing Green candidate, with a principled record of opposition to racism, deserved our support.

Peter Cranie was less than 5,000 votes away from stopping Nick Griffin’s election

Peter Cranie was less than 5,000 votes away from stopping Nick Griffin’s election

“The results are in, and Peter Cranie was less than 5,000 votes away from stopping Nick Griffin’s election. Yet almost 50,000 votes were cast for the Socialist Labour Party and No2EU. Together they amounted to just 3% of the vote – nowhere near enough to make a positive impact. The plain fact is that had even a minority of that left wing vote gone to the Greens we would not be waking up to the fact that the North West is sending a fascist to the European parliament.

“If nothing else, these results should spark a renewed and more energetic discussion about bringing the broad left together around a common agenda for progressive change. I will be speaking at the very timely Compass conference next weekend, and I look forward to discussing these and other issues with Labour and Green supporters.

“I do not believe that the British public have become hostile to basic progressive policies on the responsibility of the state in providing decent housing, protecting jobs, and regulating the economy. But the retreat of Labour from even a modest social democratic alternative has led to a lack of connection in the public mind between the effects of the recession and the neo-liberal policies responsible for it.

“The manner in which Labour has vacated the traditional ground of the left has served to weaken any convincing notion of a political alternative to neo-liberalism. This has created a dangerous vacuum which is in danger of being filled by hate fuelled simplicities of the far right. The challenge for the left is to renew itself and reassert some basic socialist critiques and solutions into mainstream political debate.

“Respect will be doing everything we can to contribute to the renewal of a progressive and left wing politics. But we need to broaden our challenge to the failed parties. There will be many who want to see the values of peace, civil liberties and social justice represented at the ballot box, and in a fairly elected parliament. I encourage them to put themselves forward for consideration as candidates at the next General Election.

“We need each other and this country badly needs a political alternative of the left.

It is not beyond our ability to create this alternative. There are lessons we can draw from the anti-war movement. In a hostile climate and against formidable obstacles, a clear message, delivered with determination and organisational verve, was able to influence, shape and organise public opposition to war. We need a similar ambition to ideologically and practically build resistance to neo-liberalism and racism.”

To join Respect (membership costs £10/£5 per year), please visit: http://www.therespectparty.net/joindonate.php?page=join

To make a donation to our General Election fighting fund, please visit: http://www.therespectparty.net/joindonate.php?page=donate  

If you think you would be a suitable candidate to stand for Respect in a Westminster or local council election please contact Respect.

Salma Yaqoob on Obama speech: ‘Words welcome but action needed’

Salma Yaqoob reflects on Barack Obama's speech

Salma Yaqoob reflects on Barack Obama's Cairo speech

President Obama has given his first major speech on relations between the United States and the Muslim world.

Birmingham Councillor and Respect party leader Salma Yaqoob gave her response:

“President Obama’s call for a ‘new beginning’ in relations between the United States and the Muslim world is very welcome.

“The absence in his speech of any bellicose threats to Iran stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, George W Bush, as do his comments about the ‘intolerable’ situation facing the Palestinians.

“However, in view of the damage done to the United States’ reputation across the Muslim world, actions not words will be required to really mark a new beginning.
“Many Muslims in Britain are of South Asian origin and are alarmed at how the US intervention in Afghanistan is also destabilising Pakistan.

The sooner there is progress to redress the injustice of the Palestinians and end the occupation of Afghanistan, the quicker a new chapter can be written.”

Salma Yaqoob calls for Roger Godsiff to pay back £87,000

Councillor Salma Yaqoob, Hall Green parliamentary candidate for the Respect Party, says it is time for a clear out of greedy MPs in the wake of revelations about MP Roger Godsiff’s expense claims.

Salma Yaqoob commented:

Salma Yaqoob confronts Roger Godsiff MP in 2005

Salma Yaqoob confronts Roger Godsiff MP

“I represent one of the poorest areas in Birmingham. Thousands of my constituents are struggling to make ends meet in the face of a recession that is causing pain to many people. It is hardly surprising that there is deep anger at the spectacle of MPs enriching themselves at our expense.

“Roger Godsiff’s family live in a London home and are registered to vote there, making it his main residence in most people’s eyes. However, by claiming it as his ‘second home’ he has claimed £87,000 of tax payers’ money for it in the last four years.

“He should pay back this money.

“He has also made thousands of pounds worth of claims on his Sheldon home in Birmingham for ‘guttering’ and ‘shower repairs’, and even claimed for a lawn mower under ‘office sundries’. Oddly this home is not even in his constituency!

Salma Yaqoob slashed Roger Godsiff's election majority in 2005

Salma Yaqoob slashed Roger Godsiff's election majority in 2005

“Roger Godsiff’s behaviour smacks of contempt for his constituents and raises more questions about MPs abuse of the expenses system.

“We have heard enough to know that none of the three big parties have clean hands. Everywhere we look there is a new scandal. Enough is enough. It is time for a clear out.”

Salma Yaqoob and George Galloway to speak at public meeting on Pakistan

Injured men are seen near the site of the car bombing in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday, May 27, 2009. (AP / K.M. Chaudary)

Injured men are seen near the site of the car bombing in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday, May 27, 2009. (AP / K.M. Chaudary)

Respect leader and Birmingham Stop the War Coalition chair Salma Yaqoob will be speaking alongside George Galloway MP at a meeting on the crisis in Pakistan this weekend.

The public event, which will be taking place at the Bordesley Centre in Birmingham’s Sparkbrook area, will explore the current deepening crisis in Pakistan.

Over the last few months a million people had been displaced by the fighting in the province of Swat and this week saw a massive car bomb in Lahore kill 23 people.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, Green Party’s MEP candidate Felicity Norman, Labour Councillor Tahir Ali and Lib Dem Councillor Tariq Khan will be among a host of speakers discussing the growing instability in the region.

The meeting is organised by the Stop the War Coalition. Its Chairperson Salma Yaqoob said:

“US drone strikes on Pakistani territory and Pakistan’s support for the Western occupation of Afghanistan continues to severely destabilise the country. Stability in the Pakistan is intimately tied up with a resolution to the war in Afghanistan where the conflict is increasingly deadlocked, the death toll of British soldiers continues to rise and Taliban are growing in strength.

“This meeting will outline what positive measures our government can pursue to help bring peace to the region. It is free entry and everybody is welcome to attend”.

The meeting begins at 2pm on Sunday 31st May atthe Bordesley Centre in Stratford Road, Camp Hill, Birmingham, B11 1AR.

Councillor Salma Yaqoob accuses Tories of ‘outrageous deception’

The controversial and offensive Conservative election leaflet for the Lozells East and Handsworth by-election suggests Salma Yaqoob supports their candidate Raja Khan. A 'disgusted' Salma accused the party of deception and 'misleading voters' and is planning legal action.

The controversial and offensive Conservative election leaflet for the Lozells East and Handsworth by-election suggests Salma Yaqoob supports their candidate Raja Khan. A 'disgusted' Salma accused the party of deception and is planning legal action.

Respect Councillor Salma Yaqoob has blasted the Conservative party for using her photograph on election material, without permission, to imply support for their candidate in the forthcoming Lozells East and Handsworth by-election.

Cllr Yaqoob said: “I am outraged and disgusted that the Tory candidate in Lozells East and Handsworth [Raja Khan] has produced an election leaflet using my photo and implying that I am supporting him.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr Khan approached me for a photo on the recent trade union defend jobs demo in Birmingham. I agreed on the explicit condition that it not be used in any way for party political purposes.

“The use of my image on Tory publicity is a deliberate attempt to mislead the voters of Lozells East and Handsworth. It is a disgraceful abuse of the political process and flies in the face of David Cameron’s calls to ‘clean-up’ politics.

“The public are sick and tired of deceitful politicians. Now that they have been exposed I hope the voters Lozells East and Handsworth punish the Conservatives for their willful deception.

“In the meantime, I am seeking legal advice on what recourse I have against them’.

MPs Expenses Scandal: Mark Anthony France on Sky News

West Midlands Respect activist Mark Anthony France and local pub landlord Gianni D’Anaello speak to Sky News in Bromsgrove about the MP’s expenses scandal, following the furore surrounding the expenses of their local Member of Parliament.

Worcestershire MP Julie Kirkbride is currently at the centre of a fresh expenses scandal which has reached right into the heart of the Conservative Party.

Ms Kirkbride had registered a property in her Bromsgrove constituency as her second home, allowing her to claim expenses on it, while her husband Andrew MacKay – the MP for Bracknell in Berkshire – had registered a property in London as his second home, allowing him to claim expenses on that one.

Mr MacKay quit as Mr Cameron’s policy adviser after it emerged the pair were both claiming for second homes despite sharing properties.

Mark France, a constituent who has independently been collecting signatures for Julie Kirkbride to resign, said:

Mark Anthony France on Sky News

Mark Anthony France on Sky News

“We got about 150 signatures in just three quarters of an hour and we’ve now set up a little group and we aim to collect 10,000 signatures in the next 10 days. We’ll present them to Rita Dent, Julie Kirkbride’s constituent secretary, on June 1st and we’re saying that Julie Kirkbride should resign. “

When pressed by the reporter over whether he was using the recent events as an opportunity to promote the Respect party, Mark made it clear her was working independently of any party by responding:

“No, I’m a local lad who believes in justice, truth, decency and honesty. We have 1,200 people made redundant in the Bromsgrove area just in the past 3 months. There’s a lot of hardship, there’s a lot of people who are fidning that everything they’ve worked for is just collapsing around them and there’s a lot of anger and this is the last straw.”

The above interview was broadcast on Sky News on 16th May 2009.

Salma Yaqoob at the March for Jobs

City councillor for Birmingham Sparkbrook Salma Yaqoob attends the national March for Jobs – organised by Unite and held in Birmingham – and explains the importance of supporting the call for British jobs to be saved in the midst of a recession.

Date: Saturday 16th May 2009
Venue: March from Highfield Road (B15) to Centenary Square, Central Birmingham.

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