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Labour Party ordered to pay £123,000 to deselected councillor

The Law Society Gazette report on a story I had earlier missed that was in the Telegraph a couple of weeks ago about the Labour Party being ordered to pay £123,000 in compensation to a former councillor they deselected. Raghib Ahsan claimed to have been subjected to racial discrimination after being replaced by a white candidate for the Sparkhill Ward in Birmingham in 1997. Allegations that he had helped Asian families jump the queue for housing repairs in return for votes were investigated but found to be false.

The compensation was based on loss of earnings of £80,000, based on the councillor allowances he would have had (plus £43,000 for "injury to feelings".) But if he is not spending time as a councillor does this not release him to earn money through alternative work? Furthermore it was for the electorate not the Labour Party to decide if he was a councillor. He could have stood as an independent.

Political parties should be free to have who they choose as candidates. If they select or deselect on the basis of factionalism or discrimination rather than merit then the answer is not to vote for the candidate they offer.

The Labour MP John Spellar says:

For a court to stick its nose in and get involved is absurd.

I agree. But I find it difficult to be too sympathetic to the Labour Party on this matter. They have pushed through excessive and unreasonable legislation in this area. There are probably many employers who despair at the burden of unfair dismissal cases. So they are put off recruiting in the first place. Has Mr Spellar spoken up for them?


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