Wednesday 4 November 2020


Claudia Webbe and Apsana Begum

Labour's Claudia Webbe and Apsana Begum share a lot in common.  They're both hard left Corbyn loyalists elected in 2019, having replaced long-standing moderates.  Both their selections were mired in controversy and they have both faced allegations of anti-Semitism.  They are also both due to appear before magistrates this side of Christmas.  Webbe (Leicester East) is due to appear on November 11 charged with harassment.  Begum (Poplar & Limehouse) is due to appear on December 10 charged with housing fraud.  Both deny the charges, but only one of them has been suspended as an MP.

Webbe had the party whip withdrawn with immediate effect when she was charged in September.  She retains party membership pending the outcome.  However, almost a week after Begum was charged she is still a Labour MP.  It's an odd disparity given they are both essentially backbench dissidents and even more so given the Great Leader's suspension.  Perhaps it's something to do with the fact Begum's case involves the Third World banana republic of Tower Hamlets and why she was inexplicably put to the front of an 18,000 long waiting list for housing.

Tower Hamlets Borough Council is most famous for the corruption and electoral fraud that led to the removal and conviction of its mayor Lutfur Rahman in 2015.  Begum has links to Rahman, who like her is of Bangladeshi origin.  During last year's general election the Tories accused her of being a proxy for Rahman, who she had previously worked for, although she denied those claims.  Rahman is currently barred from seeking elected office.

Begum's surgeries are advertised in both English and Bengali

Begum tweeted her support for Jeremy Corbyn yesterday, so she may well end up outside the Labour Party regardless of her court hearing.  A Labour split remains a very real prospect.