Labour councillor suspended over "Muslim plot" comments still on election ballot

5/1/2022 12:01 PM
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks with constituents during a community visit with Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves and Labour Councillor Sharon Taylor on March 21, 2022 in Stevenage

The name of Joyce McCarty, a Newcastle city councillor, appears on the ballot for May's local elections despite her suspension by the Labour Party for alleged Islamophobic comments.

It has prompted Muslim Labour activists to say the party and its leader Keir Starmer cannot call Labour an 'anti-racist party' if serious Islamophobia cases are ignored.

McCarty was accused of making Islamophobic comments after the recent deselection of her long-time friend and Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes, who lost his seat last month to Abdul Samad.  

In text messages, McCarty describes his ousting as a "muslim plot" and threatened to damage the reputations of several BAME councillors, according to the website JOE, which first reported the story.  

Despite the suspension, an image circulated on social media from Newcastle Labour, now deleted, showing she was still canvassing in Wingrove ward last Sunday, April 3.  

"The Labour Party cannot call itself an anti racist party," tweeted Mish Rahman, a Labour NEC member. "It seems to take some instances of racism more seriously than others and depending on who carried out the offence.  

"When it comes to tackling Islamophobia, I have zero confidence in this leadership," he said.

Administratively suspended  

It is understood McCarty is administratively suspended from the party, pending investigation. The Labour Party has said it no longer endorses her candidacy in May’s local elections.  

Suspended Labour Party members are not eligible to stand as candidates in elections but since her nomination was submitted before her suspension, she can still appear on the ballot.    

"This is unacceptable," tweeted the Labour Muslim Network.  

"Today we have been forced to, once again, write to the Labour complaints team regarding their handling of serious Islamophobia allegations.  

"We cannot begin to rebuild confidence amongst the Muslim Community while serious cases of Islamophobia are ignored."  

In another tweet, Rahman said: "The councillor despite suspended on the 29th of March - still campaigning for their candidacy and their local Labour party social media put out a social media post which was retweeted by the local Labour MP on 3rd April.”  

"Starmer and Evans inactions to this case seriously undermines the @UKLabour party's ability to fight against Islamophobia and racism.  

"Their inaction emboldens those that think they can use far right tropes against Muslims and get away with it - As this person seems to have."

Joyce McCarty did not respond to our requests for comment.

Both the major parties in the UK have been dogged with claims of Islamophobia. Recently, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a Cabinet Office inquiry into the Islamophobia allegations from Tory MP Nusrat Ghani.