UK election: Labour replaces Faiza Shaheen with member of pro-Israel JLM

UK election: Labour replaces Faiza Shaheen with member of pro-Israel JLM
Former Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen has been replaced by Shama Tatler, a member of the pro-Israel organisation Jewish Labour Movement.
3 min read
01 June, 2024
Faiza Shaheen was blocked by the Labour party from running in her local constituency [GETTY]

The UK Labour Party has announced that Shama Tatler will run as candidate for the London seat of Chingford and Woodford Green, following its sudden blocking of former candidate Faiza Shaheen.

Shaheen had been slated as the party's candidate for the upcoming general election on 4 July, but the economist was abruptly blocked by the UK Labour Party on Wednesday for 'liking' social media posts critical of Israel.

Tatler is a councillor in the London Borough of Brent and a member of the Jewish Labour Movement, a pro-Israel organisation affiliated with the World Zionist Organization.

Shaheen has slammed the decision, stating that the party “would rather lose than have a left pro-Palestine candidate”, while highlighting Tatler's lack of history with the constituency.

Speaking to the Guardian, she also claimed she has faced “a systematic campaign of racism, Islamophobia and bullying”. 

Referencing a series of recent selection issues, including the removal of a local organiser from her team and being blocked from producing videos blaming inflation on "corporate greed", Shaheen claimed Keir Starmer’s party had "a problem with black and brown people".

Tatler has not said anything formally but has liked posts congratulating her candidacy on X.

According to Shaheen, the posts in question were criticising Israel’s actions in Gaza, and so were viewed by the party as “damaging Labour’s electoral chances”. The academic was presented with a dossier of her alleged "anti-Israel" social media activities, some dating back to 2014, which included liking a post featuring a Daily Show sketch on the "Israel lobby" by Jewish comedian Jon Stewart.

This 'like' reportedly prompted a complain by the Jewish Labour Movement. 

Shaheen’s campaign team said she had instructed a lawyer, and was seeking to challenge her exclusion on Wednesday by a panel of Labour’s ruling NEC, as reported by The Guardian

Tatler's appointment comes as the party also announced controversial pro-Israel lobbyist Luke Akehurst as their parliamentary candidate for North Durham.

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The upcoming election is likely to see Labour leader Keir Starmer elected as the UK’s next prime minister, but he has faced strong criticism over his perceived pro-Israel stances and his responses to Israel's war on Gaza.

Starmer initially refused to call for a ceasefire, only doing so months after the beginning of the war and after he faced a rebellion prompted by an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire.

The Labour leader caused controversy when he agreed that Israel withholding water, power and essential supplies to Gaza, considered illegal collective punishment by most readings of international law, was part of the country's "right to defend itself". 

The party leader was forced to deny that Labour was “purging” left-wing candidates after MP Diane Abbott claimed she had been barred from standing in the upcoming election, as well as Shaheen’s blocking.

Abbott was suspended following accusations of antisemitism after she said the bigotry experienced by Jewish people was similar to, but not the same as, that faced by black people. She subsequently apologised for such statements.