SYED SIDDIQUI IS 29 and has been a party member only since 2015. He was elected as Ilford South CLP secretary at the 2016 AGM and was re-elected unopposed in 2017. He is committed, outgoing, energetic and competent.
To understand his case, some background information is necessary. Ilford North CLP has a membership of over 900. Most have joined since 2015, many to support the left wing agenda of the current party leadership However, Progress supporters have managed to retain control of Ilford North and, through this, still control the Redbridge Local Campaign Forum (LCF).
The council Labour group leadership is also dominated by Progress sympathisers.
In the council candidate selection process organised by the LCF, councillors who had challenged the right wing council leadership didn’t get through - including Barbara White, ostensibly rejected because she hadn’t campaigned hard enough, despite being seriously ill - and no local people were on any of the interview panels. Momentum founder Jon Lansman recently called for the process to be rerun. Remarkably, Syed managed to slip through the Progress net and was selected as candidate for Churchfields Ward.
Syed was also moderator of a Whatsapp group in the local party at a time when there was a growing argument between two members, in which threats of violence were made. Just after midnight on September 12th, Syed received a phone call from one of the two people he had excluded from the WhatsApp group. He managed to record most of it, and its Islamphobic and abusive nature is indisputable. Later that same day, he lodged a complaint against the member, both with the police and the local and national party.
The party’s Legal and Compliance Unit suspended the member, yet the following month, Sam Matthews, the party’s Head of Disputes, sent Syed a formal notice of investigation. The letter stated that the member had made allegations against Syed, claiming that Syed had “also made various threatening and intimidatory comments towards” him. A few days later, Sam Matthews issued Syed with a second notice of investigation, alleging he had “neglected his responsibilities as secretary of Ilford South CLP thus having a detrimental effect upon the CLP,” and to have “treated members and office-holders in Ilford South CLP in an intimidating, threatening and disrespectful manner.”
This is thought to refer to the September 22nd meeting of Ilford South CLP, where Jas Atwal, leader of Redbridge Council and Progress supporter, was extremely exercised about having four new branch delegates admitted. Syed pointed out that he had already informed the branch in question, weeks earlier, that before any new delegates could be accepted, the existing delegate would first need to formally resign. As he had not heard from the latter, he refused to allow the new people to join the meeting.
Jas Atwal responded angrily but the meeting supported Syed’s ruling.
In December, a further letter from Sam Matthews suspended Syed from attending meetings of, holding office in, or representing, the Labour Party, based on new allegations about conduct towards party members.
When this dispute is resolved, it’s likely that Syed will be exonerated on all fronts. But until then, he is barred from being a candidate or an officer and from attending meetings. Given the activities of Progress in the local party, it all looks very dubious. Jewish Voice for Labour has taken up his case and is highlighting the disparity between the casualness with which this allegation of Islamophobia is being treated as compared to the summary suspensions meted out on the basis of flimsy accusations of antisemitism.
Ilford South CLP