Claims by deselected Labour councillors in Luton that there was an organised plot to oust them have been backed up by a WhatsApp message shown to the Luton News.
The WhatsApp message was sent to Labour Party members in Dallow ward and lays out a step-by-step procedure for voters selecting candidates in the recent ward selection process.
At the top of the first page of the lengthy message, there is an insignia for ‘Jutt Party’ – believed to refer to one of the larger communities found in Kashmir – and the headline ‘Final Reminder’.
At each step, voters are firmly instructed to select Abbas Hussain and Adrees Latif as candidates, as well as to trigger a ballot to deselect sitting councillor Mohammed Farooq (see photos).
At the end of the WhatsApp message the recipient is told: “Please terminate text once read.”
Deselected Cllr Mohammed Farooq said: “I felt disappointed because of how much service I have provided to the community.
“The worst thing is the campaign against me. People were going around saying not to vote for me.”
And he questioned how the mobile phone numbers of people entitled to vote could have been accessed under new data protection laws.
“How are they able to access people’s mobile phone numbers?” he asked. “The law has been breached. It’s not about whether you lose or not, that’s politics. The system is flawed. You can’t trust them anymore, that is your feeling.
“The way the whole selection is taking place is wrong,” he added.
“There should an investigation. The Labour office should not shy away from this. It should take this matter very seriously.”
Councillor Farooq vowed to carry on until May 2019, but said he has no plans at the moment to stand for selection in another ward.
“I am not bitter about what happened,” he said. “The process is a sham, I saw the election list and someone was on there that should not be on there, who does not live here.
“I am still in Dallow. I will still be working for the people of Dallow supporting them. I will be on the frontline.”
Luton South delegate Javeria Hussain paid tribute to Cllr Farooq and reiterated concerns about factions within the Luton Labour Party.
She said: “Cllr Farooq is a good, respected, hard working councillor who brought improvements to Dallow, often doing the work of three councillors in the ward and he served us residents well.
“His deselection is simply innocent collatoral in a war between two factions desperate for power.”
The East of England Labour Party told the Luton News: “Labour candidates are democratically selected by local Labour Party members. We are satisfied that this process took place in line with Labour’s rules and procedures.”
Previously, Tahir Khan and the Luton mayor, Cllr Naseem Ayub, were deselected as Labour candidates in Biscot ward, while her husband Mohammad resigned shortly before the selection process.
Raja Saleem, Asma Rathore and Mohammed Riaz weren’t reselected in Saints ward, while Yasmin Waheed was defeated in Challney.