Lancashire: Mass Resignation Of Labour Party Councillors

muslims resign from labour

The ongoing story of Labour councillors and local politicians quitting the party over the leadership’s position on Gaza and the conflict in the Palestinian territories continues.

The Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer is in a difficult position because he himself is a committed Zionist, married to a Jewish woman, and with a large section of the leading members of the parliamentary Labour Party being members of the Labour Friends of Israel (see also the series of articles on this website on the same subject by our contributor ‘Frustrated’).

Lancashire appears to be facing a series of local authorities being hard hit by these resignations, and mostly these appear to be resignations by high profile Asian councillors, usually from the Pakistani Muslim communities. In a pattern of internal party-political rebellions that first surfaced in late October last year, the Labour Party has been hardest hit in Lancashire and the North West, particularly in its traditional strongholds in the old industrial towns.

Last October saw local Labour Party officials and Labour councillors resigning from the party across Greater Manchester, including from Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside after interview statements by Starmer and his refusal to support demands for a ceasefire in Gaza and his continuing support for Israel to take military action.

In October 2023, the ex-mayor of Blackburn and Darwen, Salim Mulla resigned from the Labour Party together with another former mayor of Blackburn, Labour Councillor Suleman Khonat. In November 2023 Burnley Council saw 11 councillors resigning from the Labour Party.

Speaking immediately after his resignation in Blackburn, Councillor Suleman Khonat summed up the attractions of membership of the Labour Party to people like himself; “I was attracted to the Labour Party because it was the party of the common man, the poor, the working class, asylum seekers, immigrants and those fleeing persecution from all around the world.” Obviously, Sir Keir Starmer has failed to take notice of the political and ideological motives of his party’s large Asian Muslim membership.

The radical political figure of George Galloway seized on the disaffection by larger numbers of Asian Muslim voters to win a seat in Rochdale earlier this year, overturning a Labour majority to become an MP for the Workers Party, a radical leftist title for a political party if ever there was one.

George Galloway is looking to launch a whole raft of Workers’ Party candidates in East Lancashire prior to a General Election later this year and has announced that a candidate has been named to stand in Blackburn. Although the candidate, a 65-year-old former diplomat, Craig Murray, might sound like a surprise choice, Murray was the UK envoy to Uzbekistan from 2002 till 2004 and has a track record of standing as a left-wing candidate.

Now by March 2024, other councils in the county are also being affected. The leader of Pendle Borough Council Asjad Mahmood was one of 20 local councillors to resign from the party, also affected by resignations were Nelson Town Council and Brierfield Town Council.

Regional mainstream news media including BBC North West and the Lancashire Chronicle, have made the following points: “Councillor Mohammed Iqbal, who is one of the 20 councillors to resign from the party, told BBC North West Today: “In the last few weeks there has been a culture developing from the national Labour Party that seems to want to control anything that any councillor wants to say.” He added: “The party nationally seems to want to control who can stand where and when. We don’t think that’s right so we have taken the difficult decision to resign.”

And also this; “Pendle’s Labour group claims the national party is targeting local councillors, preventing them from standing for elections, and using “aggressive bullying tactics to suppress fairness and free speech”. The councillors will not join any other political party but will form independent groups on Pendle Borough Council, Brierfield Town Council and Nelson Town Council.

A quick look at the names of the latest resignations shows a common pattern, principally the names of those resigning are not the traditional British White Working-class.

The following Labour councillors have resigned from the party:

Pendle Borough Council
Cllr Asjad Mahmood
Cllr Yvonne Tennant
Cllr Mohammed Hanif
Cllr Mohammed Ammer
Cllr Zafar Ali
Cllr Mohammed Adnan
Cllr Faraz Ahmed
Cllr Sajjad Ahmed
Cllr Mohammed Iqbal
Cllr Ruby Anwar

Nelson Town Council
Cllr Muhammad Ajmal Khan
Cllr Mohammed Adeel Qamar
Cllr Sughra Bibi
Cllr Anam Nawaz
Cllr Shabaz Ahmed
Cllr Mohammed Sufyaan Sarwar
Cllr Mohammed Kamran Latif
Cllr Naeem Akhtar

Brierfield Town Council
Cllr Adeel Waseem
Cllr Saqlain Ali

British Movement Northern Region cannot help but wonder what the old Lancashire pioneers of the Labour Party, those politically active between the end of the 19th Century and 1920, would make of the names listed above of the resigning Labour councillors.

Would those early Labour Party stalwarts of old recognise the Labour Party of 2024, led by a ‘Sir’ who is also a millionaire, and local councils dominated by so many who are not manifestly of traditional British working-class heritage?

The Labour Party might like to crow about ‘diversity, equality and inclusion’ and boast of wanting to create a “truly multicultural country”, but it seems that sometimes that ‘vibrant diversity’ works against the Labour Party and the sizeable ethnic minority membership can start to seriously rock Labour’s boat.


Top Image: Montage by BM Northern.

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