Support Apsana Begum!

By our East London Correspondent

As many will know, the internal life of the Labour Party has been something of a white knuckle ride for many high-profile activists on the left over the last two years.  Regional conferences have been subject to bureaucratic manoeuvres. Members have been suspended for old links with groups proscribed at a much later date. Candidates for office have been barred from standing on the most spurious grounds.

Another target of the authoritarian internal regime is likely to be left MPs, who face trigger ballots in the next months. Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum is facing hers now.

Activists are perturbed. One told us: “We need your help and support because what is happening here is shocking. It’s a misogynistic campaign of harassment, rule breaking, bullying, intimidation and abuse.”

Apsana Begum was born and brought up in East London and worked for the borough of Tower Hamlets before being elected to Parliament in 2019 by a massive majority. She subsequently spoke out about the racist, Islamophobic and misogynistic attacks that she had to endure during her campaign.

She is also a survivor of domestic abuse and became Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence and Abuse. She has repeatedly raised with the Party that her ex-husband, although suspended, is still actively campaigning against her – along with his close allies in the Council that pursued a fraud case against her in 2021.

Charged on three counts of failing to disclose information when applying for social housing, she argued that she was a victim of domestic abuse, coercive control and financial abuse. She was acquitted on all counts.

There has never been any acknowledgement of the suffering caused to Apsana by a Labour administration bringing these charges.  Additionally, Apsana has received no proper support from the Labour Party over the issue.  For a Party that claims to take the issue of abuse seriously, this is concerning.

Meanwhile, the investigation into her ex-husband grinds on, all while he continued to be a Tower Hamlets Councillor until May 2022. Allies of his are implicated in the campaign against her. Apsana made a complaint about one member who allegedly sent an email to all members of Blackwall and Cubitt Town Branch with a copy of a letter repeating allegations from which she had been cleared and revealing her home address.

There are also troubling allegations that the meeting that ran the trigger ballot may not have been properly constituted; that members may have been subject to harassment; that new members may be being signed up en bloc; that misinformation may be being disseminated. These concerns – and others – have been raised with the London Region Director.

Meanwhile Apsana’s health and wellbeing are under threat. One member told us: “Enough is enough. This needs to stop. What I am witnessing here shocks me to my core. It is indecent and inhumane.”

Image: Apsana Begum MP. Source: Author: David Woolfall, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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