British-Palestinian MP hopeful Leanne Mohamad's team seeks 'unity' after election endorsement loss

British-Palestinian MP hopeful Leanne Mohamad's team seeks 'unity' after election endorsement loss
The Redbridge Community Action Group said on Monday it was no longer endorsing Leanne Mohamad to be the next MP for London's Ilford North constituency.
5 min read
24 April, 2024
Leanne Mohamad (pictured) is a British-Palestinian activist hoping to become the next MP for London's Ilford North constituency [Mark Kerrison/In Pictures/Getty-archive (3 February 2024)]

The campaign team for British-Palestinian activist Leanne Mohamad, who is hoping to unseat a senior Labour figure, regrouped on Tuesday after a local community group pulled its endorsement of her bid to become the next member of parliament for an East London constituency.

The Redbridge Community Action Group (RCAG) told The New Arab on Monday it was no longer endorsing Mohamad to be the next MP for Ilford North.

RCAG said it was "actively considering endorsing a new candidate" who would "best represent local people".

"Leanne is very grateful for the unwavering support of all community groups of Ilford North including RCAG," Mohamad's campaign team told The New Arab on Tuesday following a request for comment.

"She is proud to share that her independent campaign is being run by a dedicated, locally based team, committed to a shared vision and values who continue to work tirelessly to make a meaningful impact in the community.

"Difference of opinions can arise, and as the team moves forward, they are committed to fostering continued collaboration and unity within it."

RCAG had announced Mohamad as its independent candidate for Ilford North early this year following hustings.

She will face Labour's shadow health secretary Wes Streeting, tipped as a future leader of the party, in a general election that will be held no later than January 2025.

On Monday, RCAG shared with The New Arab a statement that made several allegations against Mohamad, first reported by British newspaper Jewish News last week.

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The RCAG steering group statement was four pages long and dated to early April.

It said that Mohamad had made "untrue allegations" on 1 April in a "public statement" on official RCAG groups on the messaging service WhatsApp.

The alleged remarks were "shared in multiple RCAG groups and beyond" and "unfairly smeared" the community organisation's reputation, RCAG's statement added.

RCAG on Tuesday sent The New Arab screenshots it said showed the alleged message from Leanne its statement was responding to.

The message appeared to have been sent in a WhatsApp group titled "RCAG Volunteer Chat".

"I have had zero support from RCAG this past month and no access to funds I helped raise," the message allegedly posted by Mohamad said.

"I have decided it is better I restart my campaign with supporters who really want to be with me on this journey."

The message, which The New Arab could not verify, included a link to join "my WhatsApp campaign community".

Asked about the alleged message on Wednesday, Mohamad's campaign told The New Arab it had nothing to add to its comments the day prior.

RCAG's early April statement accused Mohamad and her representatives of trying to "take control" of the organisation's funding pledges.

It also alleged the British-Palestinian activist had "insisted on the campaign spending tens of thousands of pounds – money that we as a group had worked hard to raise – on instructing a newly formed branding and marketing agency that would embed itself into our campaign and effectively take control".

"We were simply not prepared to spend huge sums of what are community funds on such endeavours when we had all the talent and ability, both within the steering team and amongst the hundreds of volunteers and well-wishers that wanted to help our local, grassroots movement," the statement said.

It added that some steering team members "felt so strongly about this that they chose to resign from the campaign instead of enduring the toxic atmosphere that had been created".

It said new members were selected for the steering group who were known to Mohamad and whose appointment she favoured but that this did not improve the dynamic in the campaign.

The RCAG statement said Mohamad "signed a candidate contract in which she agreed to work with us in a collegiate manner to fulfil the collective objective of defeating Streeting", the current MP for Ilford North.

The New Arab could not verify any allegations made.

Israel's war on Gaza

The UK's opposition Labour Party has come under fire over its handling of Israel's war on Gaza, which has so far killed at least 34,262 people, according to the Palestinian enclave's health ministry.

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The International Court of Justice in January found it was "plausible" Israel was breaching the UN Genocide Convention in Gaza.

The war has mobilised many Muslims and younger people, whose votes could play an important role in some UK parliamentary seats.

Streeting's majority in Ilford North stands at 5,218.

Mohamad has raised more than £27,500 for her campaign through a GoFundMe crowdfunder created on 8 March.

"We must ensure that all those complicit in the suffering of the Palestinians are held responsible at the ballot box," Mohamad told pro-Palestinian protesters in a February speech in London.

"You all have the opportunity to punish both of these parties – Labour and the Conservatives – who've wrought hell on the people of Gaza."

A national campaign called We Deserve Better, endorsed by left-wing columnist Owen Jones, has said it supports Mohamad.

Mohamad hit the headlines as a 15-year-old in 2016 after making a pro-Palestinian speech for a speaking contest.

Streeting at the time called her remarks "a powerful argument about human rights" and said she had "received appalling abuse online".

A survey conducted earlier this month by polling firm YouGov showed 62 percent of UK adults believed Britain should stop exporting arms or weapon parts to Israel.