Former London Mayor Quits Labour Party Citing Widespread Racism

A former London Mayor has quit the Labour party citing racism as the reason for leaving and said there is a “system that allows white men to have what they want, when they want”

Rakhia Ismail said her local party discriminated against her and felt nothing is being done to tackle the problem. Ms Ismail said in a statement: “I’m saddened deeply that the party I thought was for justice and fairness and ‘for the many’ is the opposite, from my personal experience”

“Therefore, I find it hard to represent Holloway Ward as a Labour councillor because I was battling with a party system that simply allows white men to have what they want, when they want.”

Ismail listed a number of reasons for quitting the party but highlighted a letter inviting her to take part in Labour’s first national women’s conference in which the letter pointed to her place of birth as “Somalia”. Ms Ismail was dismayed by the letter, saying: ““What has my birthplace got to do with this invite? I was shocked”

The former Mayor also said that when she pointed out the issue of knife crime within her constituency, a colleague shouted at her for bringing the topic to light: “It felt like me as a BME woman that I had no voice. In the end, I thought what’s the point?” 

A spokesperson for the Labour party told the Guardian that: “Cllr Ismail’s decision to resign is disappointing especially coming so soon after her term as Mayor of Islington, having served the borough admirably through an incredibly challenging time.”

“Islington Labour has a diverse and talented group of councillors serving their community. The Labour Party takes any allegations of discrimination received extremely seriously, which are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures.”

A study carried out by ITV in February revealed significant prejudice in Parliament. More than 62% of 37 respondents say they have experienced racism from staff and 51% said this came from fellow MPs.