Analysis Breaking Exclusive

Exclusive: Starmer’s Labour used ‘CIB’ to oust Birmingham leader – but ignored right’s abuse and misogyny

Party investigation receives complaints of widespread misogyny, abuse, bullying, threats and manipulation toward Muslim woman councillor by senior councillors and party figures, some with links to top of national party

Birmingham city councillor Shabina Bano

Last month, Keir Starmer’s Labour used an imposed ‘Campaign Improvement Board’ investigation to oust sitting council leader Ian Ward and impose the regime’s choice of new leader and deputy, accompanied by a spin campaign to justify yet another abuse of party democracy.

The change of leadership was essentially the sole outcome of the ‘CIB’ investigation – but the party has been accused of ignoring abuse, bullying and threats toward one of Labour’s Muslim women councillors by a string of senior right-wing figures on the council.

Starting last December, six months before the party moved to oust Ward and impose a replacement, Small Heath councillor Shabina Bano and her representative – reportedly a local lawyer – wrote to the party with a detailed report about misogynistic and patriarchal abuse Cllr Bano complained she had suffered at the hands of senior right-wing figures in the local party. The issues were also reported to the council Labour group whip.

Skwawkbox has obtained a copy of complaint documents, totalling 17 pages and is publishing examples below. However, while the party has been contacted about yet another failure to protect Muslim women, the names of the councillors have been redacted until comment can be obtained from them.

Cllr Bano’s own letter refers to a meeting held with Labour officials to discuss the abuse and begins:

Dear All,

Thank you for the meeting on the 1st of February 2023, hearing my concerns as to how I have been treated by fellow colleagues once again. According to the Labour Group model standing orders I have suffered from continuous harassment and intimidation based on my gender. This refers to as quoted in Alms & Values 3. Harassment or intimidation of members for any reason or based on gender, age, sexuality, race or disability ls unacceptable conduct and subject to disciplinary action.

As a councillor I have the right to conduct my duties in a safe environment, unfortunately I am constantly targeted, leaving me to feel unsafe and vulnerable In the council house and In my ward.

She went on to explain how she was abused after right-wing councillors blamed her for their failure in a factional battle within the council – some sections and details have been redacted so that identities are not revealed before the alleged culprits have chance to comment:

I was targeted by Cllr [], Cllr [], Cllr [], Cllr [] & Cllr [] due to displaying disobedience as they blamed me for [].

This resulted to harassment false accusations and rumours against my character. all to which I have evidence of. It was made clear by Cllr [] I was to be held as an example to others, if they showed disobedience, they too will be treated similarly.

…Cllr [] further said “it was in my interest to support the [planning] application if I wanted to remain as a Cllr

During our conversation Cllr [] made very discriminative and racist comments telling me I was associating myself with the wrong camp, and I should come back to my own kind (Appanah) (Pakistani group), the “white” people are only using me as a token. I was deeply offended by these remarks, I was forced to overlook them due to rear of being a target again. I was hoping this behaviour would stop and they will get bred of harassing me.

She then explained how the abuse had escalated into smears and threats and asked the party to take ‘rigorous and in-depth action’ to protect her and other women in the party:

In January I became the hot topic. I was labelled as “snake” a “fraudster” and the “go to person if fake ballot papers are ever needed.”…

19th January 2023 Councillor [] approaches my family member to discuss my disobedience In orchestrating fake ballot papers… this was a deliberate attempt to cause me embarrassment and cause damage to my character and integrity.

30th January I was treated with scorn and ridicule in the labour group office in front of Cllr [] and Cllr []. [redacted details]

I am now increasingly frustrated and exasperated with the level or discrimination and harassment I am continuously subjected to. Deliberate attempts are made to humiliate me and belittle me. This behaviour, this treatment is not acceptable and not welcomed in any workplace, and nor should lt be accepted anywhere. Why am I expected to put up with It, develop resilience and just suck it up?

I would like to express my rights accordingly to the rules, I request my concerns are taken further resulting ln disciplinary action to be taken against those who have breached the code of conduct and become comfortable ln making my life a misery. I should not have to put up with this treatment no female should endure the humiliation I have experienced. Until action is not taken this behaviour will never stop.

I request rigorous and in-depth action takes place to prevent such treatment to ever be repeated again along with the assurance to females that our voice our existence our value is just as important ln the Labour Party.

A 15-page letter apparently written by a local lawyer gives even more detail. For the sake of conciseness, only the letter’s initial summary is shown, along with details of a sinister threat made by councillors to “do the same to her as we did to former councillor Safia [Akhtar]” – Cllr Bano’s predecessor, who was ousted after what appears to have been a coordinated campaign of smears and complaints:

This report concerns the treatment of a local Councillor, Mrs. Shabina Bano, who was elected as Councillor for Small Heath Ward in May of 2022. Mrs. Bano has been the victim of bullying, harassment, victimisation, and misogyny since the beginning of her campaign to be selected and subsequently elected as a local Labour Party Councillor for Small Heath. All the information contained within this report has been taken from in-person testimony given by Mrs. Bano herself. She has provided her full consent for her testimony to be used for this report and is happy to corroborate any of the details contained herein.

Mrs. Bano provided the testimony drawn on throughout this report out of concern regarding the behaviour of several Labour Councillors and activists in Birmingham. It is her hope that her experience and testimony can help hold those responsible to account and ensure that no other woman is subject to the the distressing behaviour she herself has endured. Mrs. Bano believes that the culture of sexist and misogynist bullying must be addressed to ensure that women feel confident in coming forward to stand for positions In the local authority and the Labour Party respectively. Mrs. Bano believes that failure to hold the individuals responsible for her ill-treatment to account will not only damage the good standing of Birmingham City Council, but also the Labour Party more widely.

Mrs. Bano has been victim to consistent bullying, harassment. victimisation, and misogyny since August 2021, when she was first approached by the perpetrators of the bullying and harassment to run for Council.

  • Mrs. Bano was subjected to this abusive behaviour by a group of men, some of whom hold positions within Birmingham City Council and some of whom are prominent activists in the Labour Party, and that these individuals work together to influence politics in Birmingham in their own interest.
  • Several of these individuals are guilty of grossly sexist and misogynistic behaviour towards Mrs. Bano. and others express views and attitudes that are directly contrary to the values of Birmingham City Council and the Labour Party.
  • At least two of the individuals detailed in the report have made statements consistent with extremist views which are contrary to the values of Birmingham City Council and the Labour Party.
  • Some of the individuals involved have links to [redacted] and were themselves subjected to scrutiny for their role [redacted].
  • The statement given by Mrs. Sano clearly demonstrates that a clique of individuals within Birmingham City Council and the Labour Party are attempting to exercise undue influence over local democratic processes, attempting to install individuals who will follow the diktat of senior members within this clique.

The most recent incident was on the 11th July 2022, Mr [] and Mr [] had made a call to Mrs Bano’s family relative, the same relative that arranged the initial meeting in August 2021. In this conversation it was expressed how annoyed they were with Mrs. Bano to [sic] reporting them to the whip. And
Mrs. Bano needs to know that we will do the same to her as we did to former Cllr Safia.

Skwawkbox wrote to the Labour party:

the Birmingham Campaign Improvement Board received a series of allegations from Muslim woman councillor Shabina Bano and her legal representative of abuse, misogyny, harassment and aggression from several male Labour city figures, including senior councillors and [redacted]. I have a copy of the complaints, first submitted in December last year, in which Cllr Bano requested ‘rigorous and in-depth action’ to prevent any possibility of the behaviour recurring.

The CIB recommended a change of leadership and Labour’s NEC appointed a new leader and deputy leader, but no action was taken either against the councillors named in the report or to protect Cllr Bano. I will be covering this situation tonight.

Please advise no later than 10pm:

  • why has the party again failed to protect Muslim women?
  • whistleblower Elaina Cohen warned the national leadership of ‘sadistic’ and ‘criminal’ abuse perpetrated against Muslim domestic violence survivors by the staffer-and-lover of Khalid Mahmood, yet no action was taken to protect them and Ms Cohen was sacked. Does the party have an issue with abuse of Muslim women in Birmingham?
  • why is Labour protecting male councillors involved in abuse and leaving women councillors unprotected, while targeting the then-council leader for removal? Is factionalism involved?
  • the abuse included an alleged threat by Cllrs [] and [] to ‘do the same to her as we did to former councillor Safia [Akhtar]’. Has the party investigated the councillors’ behaviour toward either Cllr Bano or Ms Akhtar? If so, what was the outcome? If not, why not?

No reply had been received as of the time of writing.

The alleged abuse toward Cllr Bano fits into a grim picture of misogyny, abuse, exploitation, bullying and cover-ups in Keir Starmer’s party. Starmer has been sheltering at least two alleged sex pests on his front bench and took no action against now-former MP Chris Matheson while Matheson was under investigation for ‘threatening’ sexual misconduct. Matheson ultimately resigned after being found guilty by a parliamentary panel.

And Starmer, along with his general secretary David Evans, covered up whistleblower Elaina Cohen’s repeated warnings that the lover and employee of right-wing MP Khalid Mahmood – then on Starmer’s front bench – was engaged in ‘sadistic’ and ‘criminal’ exploitation of domestic violence victims she was supposed to be helping. Abuse toward Muslim women MPs in the party has similarly been either ignored or actively supported by the regime.

Despite this record of shame, Starmer continues to boast that he will ‘champion’ protection for women and girls.

More details of events in Birmingham will follow as soon as possible.

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