It’s been nearly a full week since it was announced that Cllr Amina Lone would no longer be allowed to stand as a councillor for the Labour Party in the local elections next year.
Here is her second statement in relation to the accusations levelled against her that she didn’t attend council meetings for six months.
Statement from Amina Lone
First, I would like to thank the many Labour Councillors who have contacted me privately to express their support and concern.
I have nothing to hide nor do I have anything to gain by telling the truth. I am mature enough to admit I made a mistake over a period between April and July 2016 (there were no council meetings in April and August). I did however amongst other things attend ward meetings, advice sessions, community meetings and Labour Group.
I also prioritised a national role in the Remain campaign supporting Labour’s position in the most important decision of my lifetime. At the same time, I was supporting my very fragile family after a devastating fire burned our house down a few months earlier.
I was justifiably admonished and called for an interview to explain. I apologised a number of times for the situation and later I was told, “I was not contrite enough”. This is despite doing 16 out of 22 (over 70%) campaign sessions set for the same time period. Also between the panel and appeal (March through to July 2017) I more than made up for missed campaigns sessions.
It is clear the final excuse for removing me was on rule interpretations often ignored for others whilst ignoring the contributions I made for the Labour cause over the last ten years. I appealed and provided fifteen statements of support from local ward members, residents, Cllrs and activists including statements from the council leader and a local MP. I was
repeatedly advised by trustworthy people that I was ‘going to be made an example of’ so I was not surprised when the appeal was refused. A fellow, white councillor in similar circumstances was reinstated.
A year later I am still waiting to receive basic information, including reports and change of circumstances procedures, from the chief whip in relation to this period. The omission from the recent statement by Manchester Labour that the chief whip failed to follow established process (as set by the previous Chief Whip) is telling. Yet this was admitted in
their statement informing me my appeal was rejected.
The lack of regard or acknowledgement of inconsistent implementation of the rules and failures within the Labour Party is also quite incredible. The blanket refusal to acknowledge allegations raised by Drew Walsh of wrong doing over many years within the Gorton constituency Labour Party is significant. Is it a surprise considering other majority BME constituencies around the country have been suspended in similar fashion, one for over two decades?
This begs the question: is the party rulebook fit for purpose and/or does the party know (and is covering up) a deeper problem? In Manchester, there has never been a Muslim woman in a leadership (executive) position, representing the city as Lord Mayor or selected as an MP despite putting themselves forward. Muslim men have been elected to all those roles.
In May 2011, I stood for an internal Labour group position of deputy executive member and won by one vote. To break confidentiality rules and bring this up to use as a defence for equality six years on, really just demonstrates the denial and collusion of the powerful within Labour. It is also a warning – anyone who dares question the authority of the campaign coordinator will have difficulties.
Here are just three examples of the biradari system operating in Manchester Labour – all relate to existing or former MCC councillors who are all Muslim. All were told to me first hand but the women involved do not want to come forward.
1. A women was told by two males when she attended her first meeting, “How the f*** did you get on without us bringing you through?
2. When a woman was shortlisted for a seat she was visited by two men. Her husband was asked to encourage her to stand aside for another man. She could wait her turn.
- I have been called and told, “You are with us or you are against us” when I was supporting a Jewish candidate.
This year I have received ‘verbal warnings’ which have increased in number each month for daring to challenge the status quo. I have been informed ‘I need to be taught a lesson”.
Expecting me to deny my experiences and those of many others who are afraid to come forward is indicative of a Labour Party out of touch with reality. I maintain there are lots of brilliant people, including lots of my colleagues, in the party – sadly not enough of them hold power or are willing to hold power to account.