Lancashire

Blackburn Asian women councillors deselected by local Labour party

Saima Afzal and Maryam Batan
Image caption Saima Afzal and Maryam Batan were seen as trailblazers when they were elected as councillors

Blackburn's first two Asian women councillors have been deselected for speaking out against old-fashioned attitudes, it has been claimed.

Saima Afzal and Maryam Batan are understood to have alleged the selection process on 7 February was unfair and broke Labour party rules.

Sources say they were replaced with Asian women who would be less independent minded and toe the line.

In an unusual move, Labour will re-run the selection process on Friday.

Ms Afzal and Ms Batan were seen as trailblazers when they were elected in May 2018.

Earlier this month they stood for re-selection by the Blackburn Labour party but two other Asian women were chosen to replace them in the local elections in May.

'Sour grapes'

It is understood Ms Afzal and Ms Batan complained when they were deselected, claiming party rules were broken to force them out.

Supporters of the two councillors claim the two new candidates were not eligible to be selected as they have been members for less than a year and were handpicked to toe the line.

Councillor Zamir Khan, who ran the selection, described their reaction as "sour grapes".

The NW Labour party confirmed the selection process would be re-run on Friday.

Supporters of the two councillors believe they have been victims of misogyny by a group of older Asian men within the Blackburn Labour party because the two women were independent-minded and willing to speak out against old-fashioned attitudes.

The regional Labour party would not comment on allegations of sexism and council leader Mohammed Khan declined to comment.

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