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Naz Shah

Naz Shah

Official portrait of Naz Shah crop 2.jpg
Shah in June 2017
Shadow Minister of State for Women and Equalities
Assumed office
11 July 2018
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Shadow Sec.Dawn Butler
ShadowingVictoria Atkins
The Baroness Williams of Trafford
Preceded byDawn Butler
Member of Parliament
for Bradford West
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byGeorge Galloway
Majority21,902 (48.1%)[1]
Personal details
Naseem Shah

(1973-11-13) 13 November 1973 (age 45)
Bradford, England
Political partyLabour

Naseem Shah (Urdu: نسیم شاہ‎) (born 13 November 1973[2]) is a British Labour Party politician. She was elected at the 2015 general election as Member of Parliament (MP) for Bradford West, winning the seat from George Galloway of the Respect Party.[3][4]

In April 2016, Shah was suspended from the Labour Party after being accused of antisemitism after it was reported that she had in 2014, prior to becoming an MP, shared a satirical map from Norman Finkelstein's webpage.[5] Following her apology, she was reinstated in July 2016.[6][7][8]

She was re-elected with an increased majority in the 2017 election. In July 2018, she was appointed to a junior Shadow Ministerial role as Shadow Minister of State for Women and Equalities, working alongside the Shadow Secretary of State, Dawn Butler.[9]

Early life

Born in Bradford,[10] her father left when she was six years old. At age 12, she was sent to Pakistan by her mother, Zoora Shah, to escape her mother's abusive partner, where she had an arranged marriage.[10][11] When she was 20, her mother was convicted of murder, attempted murder, solicitation to murder and forgery in relation to the man who abused her, and served 7 years in prison.[12][11]

Early career

Before being elected as an MP, Shah was the chair of mental health charity, Sharing Voices Bradford, and had previously worked as a carer for disabled people, as an NHS Commissioner and a director for a regional association supporting local councils.[13] She has said that she voted for George Galloway at the Bradford West by-election in 2012.[14][15] Working with the Southall Black Sisters, Shah campaigned for her mother's release from prison.[16]

Political career

2015 general election

In a secret ballot on 21 February 2015, 237 Labour Party members in Bradford took part in the selection vote which saw Amina Ali winning with 142 votes. Shah received 13 votes. However, after Ali resigned her candidature within 72 hours citing personal reasons,[3][17][18][19] Shah was chosen as the new candidate by the Labour Party National Executive.[20][21][22]

Shah continued to receive support from the national Labour Party. Harriet Harman reflected that Shah "will represent not just the people in her constituency, but all the people who feel they've had an absolutely terrible time and want somebody to fight for them".[23] Yvette Cooper, during a campaigning visit to the region, declared that she was "so proud of the work Naz has been doing" and "all the people she has been talking to".[24]

Shah won the Bradford West constituency in May 2015 with a majority of 11,420 over George Galloway.[25] When elected, Shah was one of nine Muslim Labour MPs.[16] On 10 May 2015, Galloway announced an intention to challenge the result, alleging that false statements and malpractice related to postal votes during the campaign meant that the result of the election should be set aside,[26] but did not do so.[27] The Fawcett Society expressed concern that "the continued opposition of the unsuccessful Respect Party candidate George Galloway, to Shah's election is the culmination of a sexist electoral campaign by Galloway".[28] In July 2015, Jeremy Corbyn said that he thought "...the tactics he (George Galloway) used against our candidate, were appalling. I was quite shocked; it was appalling."[29]

Parliamentary and political record

Shah endorsed Yvette Cooper during the Labour leadership contest in 2015.[30] Shah was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, in February 2016.[31]

Suspension from the Labour Party

In April 2016, amidst an ongoing controversy about antisemitism in the Labour Party, Shah was discovered by blogger Paul Staines to have reposted in August 2014 a Facebook post containing a map which Norman Finkelstein had posted to his website satirically promoting the relocation of Israel to the United States.[32] Shah also commented on the post, suggesting the plan might "save them some pocket money" (i.e. by ending US aid for Israel).[33][34] The author of the post, Finkelstein, commented: "[the map] was, and still is, funny. Were it not for the current political context, nobody would have noticed Shah’s reposting of it either. Otherwise, you’d have to be humourless. [..] As crazy as the discourse on Israel is in America, at least we still have a sense of humour. It’s inconceivable that any politician in the U.S. would be crucified for posting such a map."[35]

Shah stated in response that her views on Israel had moderated in the 20 months since the post. On 26 April 2016, she stepped down from her unpaid post as John McDonnell's Parliamentary Private Secretary, but kept her seat on the Home Affairs Select Committee, which was investigating the rise of antisemitism in the UK.[36][37][38]

Jeremy Corbyn condemned the remarks an "offensive and unacceptable", and Shah was suspended from the Labour Party on 27 April 2016.[6] On 5 July 2016, Shah was reinstated. Labour's National Executive Committee gave her a formal warning, told her to apologise for bringing the party into disrepute, and warned that if there was another incident, she would be expelled.[39] In her first interview after the reinstatement, she said the controversy was caused by her "ignorance" and that the post was antisemitic but she was not.[8]

2017 general election

At the general election in June 2017, Shah was re-elected with an increased vote share, and nearly doubled her majority to 21,902 votes over the second-placed Conservative Party candidate.[1][40]

Twitter controversies

In August 2017, Shah retweeted and liked a tweet from an Owen Jones parody account which read: "Those abused girls in Rotherham and elsewhere just need to shut their mouths. For the good of diversity". Shah deleted the retweet and unliked the tweet soon after.[41] A spokesperson for Shah said: "This was a genuine accident eight days ago that was rectified within minutes."[42][43] Shah was quoted in the Rotherham Advertiser that she had been working for "over 20 years on the issues of child abuse, violence against women, and grooming. She has and will continue to advocate for all victims, and work towards eradicating this evil from society".[41] Shah was criticised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath, who said the MP "should know better",[42] and the controversy led to a campaign to have Shah resign or be removed from her job.[43] A survivor of the Rotherham abuse called for Shah to make a public apology and resign.[41]

Following Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's death in April 2018, Shah paid tribute to her on Twitter by tweeting an image with Mandela's quote: "Together, hand in hand, with our matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country."[44] The practice of necklacing is the summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tyre, filled with petrol, around a victim's chest and arms, and setting it on fire. Shah later deleted the tweet without comment.[45][44]

Shadow Minister of State for Women and Equalities

In July 2018, Shah was appointed Shadow Minister of State for Women and Equalities.[40]

Personal life

During the early 2010s, Shah was injured in a hit-and-run collision, which has left her with ongoing periodic severe nerve pain which requires hospitalisation.[46]


  1. ^ a b "Election 2017: Bradford West". BBC News. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  2. ^ Hunter, Rosemary; McGlynn, Clare; Rackley, Erika (30 September 2010). Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 279–. ISBN 978-1-84731-727-8.
  3. ^ a b "Bradford West Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  4. ^ Brooks, Libby (13 August 2015). "Yvette Cooper profile: 'You don't have to choose between head and heart'". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  5. ^ "The man whose map triggered Labour's antisemitism scandal is Jewish. That shouldn't matter". The Independent. 4 May 2016.
  6. ^ a b "MP Naz Shah suspended from Labour". BBC News. 27 April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  7. ^ Bloom, Dan (5 July 2016). "Labour reinstates MP Naz Shah after suspending her over 'anti-Semitism' storm". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  8. ^ a b Milligan, Becky (18 July 2016). "Naz Shah: My words were anti-Semitic". BBC News – via
  9. ^ Becky Milligan. "Naz Shah: My words were anti-Semitic". BBC. Retrieved 24 July 2018. The language I used was anti-Semitic, it was offensive," she said. "What I did was I hurt people and the language that was the clear anti-Semitic language
  10. ^ a b "Murderer's daughter Naz Shah tells why she is standing for Parliament". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  11. ^ a b Green, Chris (9 March 2015). "Naz Shah: Bradford West's Labour candidate pens emotional open letter explaining why she wants to be an MP". The Independent. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  12. ^ Court of Appeal Criminal Division, Case No. No: 9400393/Y5 (30 April 1998). "Regina v Zoora Ghulam Shah" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Labour's Naz Shah is new Bradford West candidate". BBC News. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Meet our new MPs – Naz Shah". The labour Party. 26 June 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  15. ^ Pidd, Helen; Rhoden-Paul, André (9 April 2015). "George Galloway says his Labour opponent tried to join his party". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  16. ^ a b Naz Shah: How Labour MP suspended over anti-semitic comments forged a political career after difficult childhood, Independent, Maya Oppenheim, 28 April 2016
  17. ^ Moore, Suzanne. "Naz Shah's story is one of survival. Politics needs women like her". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  18. ^ Akhtar, Parveen. "Labour candidate hands back the poisoned chalice of Bradford West". The Conversation. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  19. ^ Pidd, Helen (25 February 2015). "Labour candidate chosen to face George Galloway resigns after three days". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  20. ^ "Public opinion on Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Bradford West Naz Shah". Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  21. ^ "Naz Shah selected in Bradford West | LabourList". LabourList | Labour's biggest independent grassroots e-network. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  22. ^ Kuenssberg, Laura (5 March 2015). "Is Labour making a mess of Bradford West?". BBC News. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  23. ^ "All aboard | Fabian Society". Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  24. ^ "Labour bullish about chances in Bradford". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  25. ^ Pidd, Helen (8 May 2015). "George Galloway loses Bradford West seat to Labour's Naz Shah". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  26. ^ "George Galloway to challenge Bradford West election result". BBC News. 10 May 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  27. ^ Pidd, Helen (4 June 2015). "Deadline expires for legal challenge over George Galloway election defeat". The Guardian.
  28. ^ "On George Galloway's sexist campaign against Naz Shah". Fawcett Society. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  29. ^ Cowley, Jason (29 July 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn: 'I think we have to think in terms of the disillusioned who didn't vote'". New Statesman. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  30. ^ "150 women back Yvette Cooper to lead the Labour party". Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  31. ^ Lowson, Rob (9 February 2016). "Naz Shah to Become Parliamentary Private Secretary to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell". Telegraph & Argus. Bradford. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  32. ^ Parveen, Nazia (26 April 2016). "Bradford MP Naz Shah quits as McDonnell's PPS after antisemitic posts". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  33. ^ Wright, Oliver (26 April 2016). "Calls for Jeremy Corbyn to expel Labour MP over her backing of 'relocate Israel to North America' plan". The Independent. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  34. ^ Dysch, Marcus (26 April 2016). "Naz Shah steps down as private secretary after Facebook posts about Israel and Jews". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  35. ^ The American Jewish scholar behind Labour’s ‘antisemitism’ scandal breaks his silence, Jamie Stern Weiner and Norman Finkelstein, 3 May 2016, Open Democracy
  36. ^ Reporter, Greg Heffer, Political (27 April 2016). "Labour MP Naz Shah resigns aide role after calling for Israel to be 'relocated' to the US". Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  37. ^ Parveen, Nazia (26 April 2016). "Bradford MP Naz Shah quits as McDonnell's PPS after antisemitic posts". the Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  38. ^ Stewart, Heather (27 April 2016). "Naz Shah suspended by Labour party amid anti-Semitism row". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  39. ^ Scott, Jennifer (26 March 2018). "How the Labour anti-Semitism saga unfolded". BBC News. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  40. ^ a b "Anti-Semitism row MP Naz Shah gets Labour role". BBC News. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  41. ^ a b c Cooper, Sam (25 August 2017). "MP Naz Shah "should resign" after sharing tweet telling sex abuse victims to "keep their mouths shut"". Rotherham Advertiser. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  42. ^ a b "Labour MP shares message telling Rotherham sex abuse victims to "shut up for sake of diversity"". Yahoo!.
  43. ^ a b "Petition calls for MP to resign over Twitter row". Telegraph & Argus. 25 August 2017.
  44. ^ a b "Labour MP Naz Shah's 'necklacing' Winnie Mandela tweet denounced". The Times. 4 April 2018.
  45. ^ "Labour MP Naz Shah deletes unfortunate tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela". Talkradio. 3 April 2018.
  46. ^ Pidd, Helen (20 June 2018). "Ailing MP wheeled into Commons in pyjamas criticises Tory whips". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2018.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Galloway
Member of Parliament
for Bradford West