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To think women should be able to run as councillors

(25 Posts)
Sandsnake Sat 06-Feb-16 13:47:56

I've just read an article in the Guardian (I know, I know...) where a spokesperson from the Muslim Women's Network details how she has written to Jeremy Corbyn regarding Muslim women being blocked as Labour candidates by male Muslim councillors. She claims that politics in certain areas with high ethnic Pakistani populations are still controlled by the patriarchal 'Biradari' system, which is a large factor in women being prevented from running. Here is a link to the article

This kind of thing has been a bugbear of mine for a while. How are we allowing patriarchal systems imported from places like Pakistan to stifle the ambition of women in Britain? Surely this isn't true democracy? And surely the Labour Party shouldn't be turning a blind eye in order to maintain their dominance with particular ethnic groups?

AIBU in thinking that the political establishment should come together to actually do something about this sort of thing? Or am I just being hopelessly naive?

TensionWheelsCoolHeels Sat 06-Feb-16 13:52:22

I read that yesterday OP and I agree with you. I'm interested in how Labour will address this, and what steps they'll take to remove those barriers from Muslim women being able to participate and stand for council positions. It's outrageous that any kind of 'old boy network' no matter what its origins are, should be allowed to flourish in these circumstances, in 2016. It's not a problem unique to Muslim women, but it's shocking to see it laid out like that.

0phelia Sat 06-Feb-16 13:57:55

This problem is not specific to Labour.
This is another anti-Corbyn article run by the Guardian.
Women should not face discrimination in this day and age, and Corbyn is not responsible for the patriarchy.

I'd like to see how these women would fair in the Tory party. Probably equally badly.

Sandsnake Sat 06-Feb-16 14:24:51

I didn't say it was Ophelia. But simple demographics and voting patterns within ethnic minority communities means that it's Labour's problem more than the other parties (who I'm sure would turn similarly blind eyes if they were in Labour's position but that's not the point). I think that dismissing the issue as purely serving an anti-Corbyn agenda minimises its importance, especially to Muslim women. It is also a practice that has been going on for years and years and so certainly isn't just a Corbyn issue.

Namechange02 Sat 06-Feb-16 14:32:05

This story is also in today's Times and it wasn't written with an anti-Corbyn slant, as it's been allegedly been going on for a long time, way before Corbyn became party leader.

ElinorRochdale Sat 06-Feb-16 14:35:41

The BBC had it yesterday. Newsnight has run a report on it.

BillSykesDog Sat 06-Feb-16 14:49:31

The Biraderi is not just a problem for women. It's a problem because in many areas the selected candidate is a forgone conclusion because the Biraderi has so much power to mobilise people they effectively just select the candidate and nothing else that other voters do is relevant. And yes that does normally mean a Kashmiri man is selected.

In Rotherham none of the unpaid officer posts for Labour, that is the people who administrate the local party, knock on doors, deliver leaflets in the rain, is Kashmiri. Yet as soon as a paid role with power comes along the party is flooded with Kashmiris who vote as the Biraderi tells them, for someone with little history of Labour involvement. So none of the volunteers is ever selected. The people who are selected tend to remain disinterested after selection too, except for in the interests which the Biraderi elected them to show an interest in.

There's also the problem that once the candidate gets power they expect payback and favours. There has been a CSE case going since Christmas in Rotherham. One councillors name has been mentioned repeatedly (some of his relatives are actually the defendants). He is alleged at best to have been instrumental in covering up the crimes, at worst actually taking part in then. He was heavily involved with taxi licensing and of course taxis were instrumental in the abuse. The suspicion seems to be that he was involved in the licensing authorities willingness to turn a blind eye to what was happening on their watch. And all this is tied up with payback to the Biraderi for getting him in post. There is extensive evidence of one of the defendants being involved with his political campaigns, possibly as a Biraderi 'enforcer'.

The verdicts are due in the next week or so and I suspect if found guilty this is all going to blow up in a big way.

0phelia Sat 06-Feb-16 14:54:01

Ok. But the way the press highlight it as Corbyn's problem is grating because it's obviously a problem to do with misogynistic Muslim men taking positions of decision makers in any Council, political party and corporation.

Misogynistic attitudes towards women need to be regulated, and monitored which is why we have legal quotas and discrimination laws, which are often ignored by corporations, especially multinationals.

The left-wing enforce regulation, quotas and equality, while the right-wing destroy them in favour of free market capitalist ideologies.

While there is a prevalent problem with Muslim attitudes towards women, at last these are being confronted and exposed. Who by? The Labour party. Not the Tories, who don't bother employing BME citizens in the first place.

I am not dismissing the problem and it's something I feel strongly about. But if you can't see all of these articles as deliberately anti-Corbyn then you are willfully ignorant of press-bias.

Women should not be discriminated against for being women. Yes we need to know about these attitudes as we move towards a more multicultural society.

The woman within Labour party can be thanked for revealing these issues not ignoring them.

0phelia Sat 06-Feb-16 14:55:16

BillSykes, excellently informative. Thanks.

museumum Sat 06-Feb-16 15:02:31

This Biraderi sounds like the old Freemasons. I hadn't heard of it but it's not surprising. It needs to be exposed and spotlighted as these systems only work when they are under the radar or on the quiet.

BillSykesDog Sat 06-Feb-16 15:02:48

0phelia, it has nothing to do with Corbyn, it's been widespread for ages. Luftur Rahman is another one, and all his was done and dusted before Corbyn even came along. But it is a Labour problem, none of the other parties seem to have anywhere near the scale of the problem.

Nottodaythankyouorever Sat 06-Feb-16 15:05:35

0phelia, it has nothing to do with Corbyn, it's been widespread for ages. Luftur Rahman is another one, and all his was done and dusted before Corbyn even came along. But it is a Labour problem, none of the other parties seem to have anywhere near the scale of the problem.

I agree.

Rahman case is a big part of it imo which has never been fully resolved.

ElinorRochdale Sat 06-Feb-16 15:07:55

The press reporting mentions Jeremy Corbyn because the Muslim Women's Network wrote a public letter to Jeremy Corbyn, and issued a media statement to that effect. Should the media have ignored the story?

The letter can be downloaded from the MWN's own website, here:

Andrewofgg Sat 06-Feb-16 15:11:31

What is Corbyn supposed to do? He and his cronies cannot supervise every choice of candidates. Just like nobody can stop people voting for male or female or white or BME candidates instead of just voting by party. The secret ballot and the right of the voter to choose is trumps.

TalkingintheDark Sat 06-Feb-16 15:13:15

Actually Ophelia the attitudes here are being confronted and exposed by the Muslim Women's Network, not the Labour Party.

Labour's response to this particular issue, which does exclusively concern the Labour Party given the demographics of the areas being talked about, has been to minimise/ignore/deny it.

They simply haven't listened to what these women are saying, haven't acknowledged there's any truth in it, and are offering no kind of a response to dealing with it.

But of course Corbyn's a wonderful man and any woman who finds him wanting as a politician must of course be part of the Tory establishment anti Corbyn apparatus. Yeah, right.

VertigoNun Sat 06-Feb-16 15:15:05

It's not just Muslim men.

Abraid2 Sat 06-Feb-16 15:16:03

Not the Tories, who don't bother employing BME citizens in the first place.

Really? What about:
Sayeeda Warsi
Nusrat Ghani
Rehman Chisti
Sajid Javid
Adam Afriye
Kwasi Karteng

And that was with about two seconds googling.


TalkingintheDark Sat 06-Feb-16 15:19:58

It is Muslim men in this particular case, and it's non Muslim members of the Labour Party who are enabling it.

And Muslim women who are being sidelined and silenced. And they are the ones who are trying to bring this out into the open.

If you mean that sexism and misogyny in general are not the exclusive preserve of Muslim men, then obviously no, of course they're not. Would anyone be stupid enough to say that?

TalkingintheDark Sat 06-Feb-16 15:22:12

Fucking awful how when Muslim women try to speak out about sexism and misogyny in their communities, the very people who should be supporting them are the ones denying there's a problem.

ElinorRochdale Sat 06-Feb-16 15:29:10

What is Corbyn supposed to do?

The MWN suggests a number of actions that could be taken in their letter. See link above.

Sandsnake Sat 06-Feb-16 15:35:00

I'll say again that I really don't think that this is an anti-Corbyn agenda thing. And I agree with PPs that the whataboutery in the argument of 'but the Tories...' is smoke and mirrors and detracts from what is a very real problem for the women that it actually affects.

VertigoNun Sat 06-Feb-16 15:38:25

I don't want to distract so please ignore my comments.

Andrewofgg Sat 06-Feb-16 16:36:28

Thank you ElinorRochdale. I certainly support re-thinking postal voting!

The other recommendations seem to fall over at the point when the centre has to take over the selection of candidates from local parties - which the MWN accepts is not on in the long term.

I was not being sarcastic - I see the problem and I am not convinced by the proposed solutions. I'm not a member of the Labour Party or any other party and I don't pretend to know what any of them can do about this.

ComposHatComesBack Sat 06-Feb-16 17:42:41

allowing patriarchal systems imported from places like Pakistan to stifle the ambition of women in Britain?

Do you mean Pakistan that has 21% of its national assembly is female and has a quota for female members enshrined in its constitution. This is a problem with its roots in the British Muslim population and being propagated by people who were born or have lived most of their lives in Britain.

Sandsnake Sat 06-Feb-16 18:01:45

I do take your point Compos but disagree that it's a problem with its roots in Britain. If I was being accurate I would have said Kashmir as opposed to Pakistan, which is where the majority of our Pakistani heritage community originate from. This is also somewhere where the Biradari system is particularly strong and opportunities for women more limited. The opportunities open to a middle class Pakistani woman from Lahore are likely to be far greater than a poor one from Mirpur.

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