Bangla Mirror Desk:
In a press conference held with the London Bangla Press Club joined by the former Labour Party leader the Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, Apsana Begum MP said:
“I am returning to work and will continue to represent the constituents of Poplar and Limehouse in Parliament after being signed off sick since 12th June.
“Whilst I am feeling better than I was, it saddens me to say that I believe that the Labour Party has failed in its duty of care in relation to my health and well-being.
The recent trigger ballot process in Poplar and Limehouse has been riddled by intimidation, allegations of harassment of members, the misuse of data, an array of membership irregularities as well as allegations of fraud and even bribery.
“I have been made aware that approximately fifty complaints have been submitted to the Party with more to come. There is an audio recording of a conversation with an individual who was listed as being at a meeting but admitted he was not in attendance and some-one else had logged on under his name. There’s video evidence of an online meeting being coordinated by a group of people in a basement room, including influential local Labour figures from other branches who should have not been there. It’s only because of dedicated local members courageous and determined to bring the injustices to light, that the Party had to eventually admit that there were complaints.
“I am still awaiting the outcome of the investigation of the conduct and behaviour of my ex-husband and others. I would like to place on record the stress and harm that this process has caused me and that I believe that the recent trigger process was used to further the domestic abuse and harassment that I have already endured.
“I do not accept the legitimacy of a trigger ballot, mired by rule breaking, intimidation and harassment and which was, at the very least, conducted by those who are close to my ex-husband whilst I was certified sick.
“I also want to make this very clear: I will not be silenced. I have written to the General Secretary of the Labour Party, David Evans setting out my view that the trigger ballot must be overruled and have confirmed the notice already served (19th July) to the Labour Party that I am seeking advice and considering taking legal action.
“Labour Party members deserve genuine democratic accountability and empowerment. I am very conscious that the undemocratic trauma that has been inflicted in recent months is very damaging to the Party and local people. There is no doubt that I have been treated like this because I am an anti imperialist, anti colonialist, working class Bangladeshi woman who stood on an anti-austerity, radical, green platform and have continued to abide by those principles as well as standing firmly by local people.
“I want to once again thank everyone, everywhere, for all the solidarity and support that you have shown. I am particularly grateful to my staff and my office for continuing to support constituents in my absence. I know that many in our communities and across the country are struggling due to the cost-of-living crisis. I will be representing and standing up for the people of Poplar and Limehouse during this difficult time just like I have been doing since being elected – whether that is in Parliament, on picket lines or on community campaigns.”
The Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP said,
“In 2019, I intervened to stop the deselection of a Labour MP who was pregnant. That was our duty of care.
“The Labour Party owes the same duty of care to Apsana — a socialist, Muslim, working-class woman and one of the best of our movement who despite being signed off sick after a barrage of abuse, still had to face a trigger ballot process.
“I am truly shocked at her treatment.
“But I also know that she cannot be silenced.
“Apsana is a brilliant representative for her constituency. The attacks on Apsana Begum reflect a broader assault on the politics she and I stand for. We must all stand with Apsana against this injustice.”