Wednesday 30 September 2020


Cllr Rakhia Ismail with her local MP Jeremy Corbyn

The UK's first Somali-born female mayor has quit the Labour Party citing 'oppression' and 'discriminatory behaviour'.  Cllr Rakhia Ismail informed her colleagues on Islington Borough Council of her decision in a virtual meeting last week and confirmed the decision in a barely literate tweet the following day.  She also lashed out at Sadiq Khan over his failure to address knife crime in the capital, telling the Islington Tribune: "Sadiq Khan has totally failed us.  He is failing every child that is killed on the streets, not just those in the Somali community, but all of them".

Ismail announced her resignation on the day her mayoral tenure ended and she handed over the position to Labour councillor Janet Burgess.  Her video was switched off during the Zoom call, so colleagues could only hear her voice.  She told the bemused online gathering: "The system that is at the heart of this council leadership establishment, and to these colleagues make no mistake, I am talking about the leadership which is so institutionalised and discriminates [against] minorities, which is at the heart of this council leadership establishment.  Over the past six years, during my time, I have felt as though my values have not been respected by the leadership establishment and members I am sorry that it has had to come to this.  The reason I am here is because people like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela - they have given up their lives for".  She then told her colleagues that she had to take a moment, after which there followed an awkward silence.  Cllr Ismail did not return to finish her statement and the meeting continued without her.

Cllr Ismail will now serve out the remaining two years of her term as an independent.

Prior to Cllr Ismail's resignation from the party, Labour held 46 of Islington's 48 council seats, the only exceptions being a Green and a former Labour councillor who quit the party last year over anti-Semitism.

Cllr Ismail came to the UK in the 1980s and was elected to Islington Borough Council in 2014.  At the time of writing her 'full statement' has not been made public, so we have no further details of what 'oppression' and 'discriminatory behaviour' she was subjected to, or what she means by the hashtag #Mothers.  All we can say is that for someone who has lived here for four decades, her written skills in the English language leave a lot to be desired.

Cllr Rakhia Ismail (right)