Palestine activist’s bid to unseat Wes Streeting is rocked by bitter campaign rift

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Palestine activist’s bid to unseat Wes Streeting is rocked by bitter campaign rift

Leanne Mohamad appears to have parted company with the Redbridge community group that selected her to stand as an independent candidate in Ilford North

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Leanne Mohamad delvers speech (Palestine Deep Dive - You Tube)
Leanne Mohamad delvers speech (Palestine Deep Dive - You Tube)

The pro-Palestinian activist running against Labour shadow minister Wes Streeting in Ilford North appears to have parted company with the organisation that selected her to fight the seat following a bitter spat over the control of her campaign.

Leanne Mohamad was chosen in January as an independent parliamentary candidate for the seat at a hustings event organised by the Redbridge Community Action Group, (RCAG) who say they were formed in response to “Israel’s genocidal war on Palestinians in Gaza.”

British–Palestinian activist, Mohamad, 23, made no secret of her ambition to tap into discontent over the Labour leadership’s position in Gaza in a seat held by Labour’s shadow health secretary since 2015, and where 23 percent of voters are Muslim.

After she was selected as the independent candidate RCAG insist Mohamad “signed a candidate contract in which she agreed to work with us in a collegiate manner to fulfil the collective objective of defeating Streeting.”

In their statement RCAG also attacked Streeting for being “one of Israel’s main advocates in parliament.”

But Jewish News has now learned that Ilford-born Mohamad’s campaign has been rocked by a bitter rift with RCAG, who have issued a four-page statement expressing “deep regret” at remarks she allegedly made about them.

Wes Streeting. (photo credit: Stefan Rousseau)

It claims Mohamad has “made her choice” to part company with the group “at a timewhen the local community is so enraged at the Government’s failure to call for an end to
the genocide in Gaza.”

The statement goes on to suggest “problems arose almost immediately”  as Mohamad insisted “on the campaign spending tens of thousands of pounds – money that we as a group had worked hard to raise – on instructing a newly formed branding and marketing agency that would embed itself into our campaign and effectively take control.”

RCAG also claims that members of the organisation’s steering team have subsequently resigned as a result of the “toxic atmosphere that has been created”.

An attempt to fill the vacant positions on the steering team with individuals more familiar to Mohamad also failed to improve matters, it is claimed.

RCAG now allege:”Sadly, that was not the case, and they too were dismayed by the lack of empathy from the candidate for the need to have a local community-led campaign and incorporate policies that would enthuse the people of Ilford North.”

RCAG claim that Mohamad “signed a candidate contract in which she agreed to work with us in a collegiate manner to fulfil the collective objective of defeating Streeting”.

In further claims the group say Mohamad sent messages on the social media platform X, “asking people to support ‘her campaign’ without any reference to RCAG, the local community, or our volunteers.”

Leanne Mohamad speaking at the NEU conference

Mohamad is also accused of promoting ” a public Iftar Party on 6 April without any RCAG involvement and printed and published new leaflets, again without any reference to RCAG.”

One source in Ilford North told Jewish News:”Relations between Leanne and the Redbridge community group went from good to bad almost the day after she was selected as the candidate.

“Let’s just say, both sides had very different ideas about how the campaign should be run. The fact that this all out in the open now is embarrassing for both sides.

“It doesn’t look great that everyone’s arguing with one another, rather than working towards trying to convince the voters in Ilford North that we’re a better option for them than Wes Streeting, does it?”

Streeting secured a majority of just over 5000 at the last election, but Labour had become unpopular with many voters as a result of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

His profile has increased significantly under Keir Starmer, especially thorough his shadow health role.

As MP Streeting has developed strong ties with the Jewish community both locally, and elsewhere in the capital.

But he has been unafraid to voice criticism of Israel, saying in February that the military had gone beyond “self-defence in Gaza.

At the same time Streeting has also talked up the importance of Israeli tech advances in health and other areas, arguing they could bring significant improvement to the NHS in this country.

Asked to comment on the claims made against her a spokesperson for the “campaign for Leanne Mohamad” said:”Leanne is very grateful for the unwavering support of all community groups of Ilford North including RCAG.

“She is proud to share that her independent campaign is being run by a dedicated, locally-based team, committed to a shared vision and values who continue to work tirelessly to make a meaningful impact in the community.

“Difference of opinions can arise, and as the team moves forward, they are committed to fostering continued collaboration and unity within it.”

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