TWO Labour councillors who used a convicted vote-rigger to help win their seats have become embroiled in yet another scandal – this time over a xenophobic tweet that claimed Eastern Europeans are responsible for fly-tipping.
Councillor Amjad Iqbal, who represents Peterborough’s Central ward for the Labour Party, was caught making the bigoted comment while engaging in a discussion on social media about rubbish being illegally dumped in the city.
After a Facebook user criticised a new plan to ‘educate’ locals about fly-tipping as being ‘a waste of money’, Cllr Iqbal shockingly began to stereotype the large Eastern European community in Peterborough, blaming them for rubbish being dumped and saying that fly-tipping was ‘accepted in their country’.
“From my interaction with Eastern European’s I think educating them about fly tipping is important” the Labour Councillor replied. “Especially who have moved recently to the UK and English is their second language.
“For majority of them, dumping rubbish in a designated place such as a corner of a road was accepted in their country and they believe it is also allowed in the UK.
“This is my source justifying educating certain parts of our community.”
The comment was quickly slammed by hardworking, decent local residents from the Eastern European community and by others on social media – with angered people, including ‘blue tick’ accounts, calling the Councillor ‘racist’. Others pointed-out that his claim of Eastern European countries allowing fly-tipping was a lie.
“The rise of British xenophobia towards Eastern Europeans in UK continues” one disgusted Twitter user said, after a screenshot of the comment was shared by TV chef Damian Wawrzyniak, who also condemned the Cllr’s words as being racist.
“Typical exceptionalist nonsense” wrote another. “Fly tipping happens everywhere but it is also not allowed anywhere.”
“What the heck?” Another wrote in shock. “Stop racism”.
Adding insult to injury, one concerned local was then threatened by another Labour Councillor for speaking out.
“Labour councillor up for election this year offends Eastern Europeans across Peterborough by suggesting they are responsible for flytipping and saying ‘dumping rubbish on a corner of a road is accepted in their country’. Very offensive” wrote a Twitter user named Nina.
Despite simply voicing her concerns over the hateful post, Labour Councillor Shabina Qayyum responded by threatening her in an effort to silence her objections:
Nina’s tweet does not, of course, constitute ‘harassment’ in any sense of the word. Nor does taking a screenshot of a post made by a sitting councillor on a public platform. In fact, Cllr Qayyum has a history of making false accusations of harassment in an attempt to cover-up scandals that she and her Labour colleagues have been involved in.
During the 2019 by-election in Peterborough that followed the arrest and conviction of Labour MP Fiona Onsanya, Labour Parliamentary candidate Lisa Forbes was exposed by VoteWatch as using convicted vote-rigger Tariq Mahmood on her campaign team.
During an extensive investigation that revealed that Qayyum, Cllr Iqbal, and many other Labour councillors had also used Mahmood to help win their seats, Qayyum tried to silence criticism by threatening reporters with legal action, making false allegations, and telling journalists that their polite requests for comment equated to ‘harassment’ and even ‘racism’. Qayyum also claimed to have reported journalists to the police based on her false accusations.
Last week, VoteWatch exclusively reported on another incident involving Qayyum, after Labour Councillor Mohammed Jamil was filmed harassing a member of the public outside their home, simply for being a supporter of the Conservative Party.
In the clip, Cllr Qayyum can be seen coming to a stop, her window down, before being clearly told by the person filming that they were ‘slagging off the Tories – theres’ a Tory supporter there!’ Rather than ask him to stop his harassment of local residents, Qayyum can be seen laughing before thanking him and driving off.
Neither Councillor Jamil, who was previously fined in court for not paying his council tax, nor Councillor Qayyum, have apologised for the incident.
To date, Qayyum has also failed to apologise for tagging a holocaust-denier into her campaign posts on social media in 2019; and was even accused in the same year of attempting to forcibly take a postal vote from an elderly woman from the Pakistani community.
Peterborough’s Labour Party has frequently found itself exposed in the national press. This month, two of their Councillors were suspended from the party completely, with full details of their alleged offences not yet made public.
VoteWatch has contacted the Peterborough City Council for comment.