Birmingham Hall Green - Retiring Labour MP backs Respect candidate

By Symon Hill
April 12, 2010

A politician who is female, young and Muslim may be a rare sight. Indeed, up until now it's been a non-existent sight within the House of Commons.

This may be about to change, as the Muslim peace activist Salma Yaqoob is reported to be in with a real chance of winning Birmingham Hall Green. Yaqoob's campaign received a boost last week when Lynne Jones, who is standing down as Labour MP in the nearby constituency of Birmingham Selly Oak, gave her backing to Yaqoob rather than to the Labour candidate.

Yaqoob is leader of the Respect Party. Respect tends to trigger mixed reactions amongst voters concerned with peace and social justice, with many admiring Yaqoob's anti-war stance while others question her association with Trotskyites and other extremists.

Whatever view any of us may take of Yaqoob, the point of significance here is that she is a candidate who is apparently in with a chance but who is receiving very little media attention outside of Birmingham. Once again, this raises questions about the media's tendency to focus only on the three most prominent parties. In the 2005 general election, Yaqoob surprised commentators by making second place and cutting Labour's majority to around 3,000.

The Green Party has withdrawn in Hall Green to back Yaqoob. The Greens' Derek Wall yesterday insisted that Yaqoob could take the seat.

Yaqoob is standing on the four principles of Investment, Not Cuts; Green New Deal; Peace, Not War; and One Society, Many Lifestyles.

Ekklesia is reporting on the polls from a perspective in line with our 'ethics election' initiative. This will include speficially highlighting what's happening to the smaller parties and 'others' who often get ignored in the polls, but could be important in a balanced/ hung Parliament

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