Labour activist sparks race row

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Indy Politics

One of Labour's leading Asian activists has launched a sweeping attack on the "small number" of Asian councillors who have not learnt English properly and operate through a clan system imported from the Indian sub-continent.

One of Labour's leading Asian activists has launched a sweeping attack on the "small number" of Asian councillors who have not learnt English properly and operate through a clan system imported from the Indian sub-continent.

The remarks by Shahid Malik, a member of Labour's national executive, have caused a political outcry in the borough of Kirklees, West Yorkshire, where he is in line to become a Labour MP at the next election. He has been selected as the party's candidate for Dewsbury, where the sitting Labour MP, Ann Taylor, is retiring after 17 years.

Three Liberal Democrat councillors have reported Mr Malik to the Kirklees Racial Equality Council. They have also called for an investigation by the Labour Party.

Mr Malik told the Asian newspaper the Daily Jang: "There is much good practice that we can learn from Pakistan and Kashmir but I want to focus on the bad practice that is on occasions being imported to this country - politics is difficult enough without importing the worst practices from the Indian sub-continent."

He added: "I sincerely believe that the clan system is both abusive and detrimental to community development ... People ought to be supported not on the basis of their clan, religion, race or colour but on their ability to do the job and represent all the constituents in their ward. The abuse of the clan system is anti-Islamic and violates fundamental freedoms."

Mr Malik continued: "It is my contention that those best placed to carry out an elected role are those that are born and educated in this country or those that have or are able to acquire a good grasp of spoken and written English."

His comments infuriated Karam Hussain, a Liberal Democrat member of Kirklees council, who told the website Dewsburytoday: "He is saying we are not capable, but I have just been re-elected for the third time running with one of the largest majorities ever. If I am not capable, who is?

"I am very upset because he talks about us using the caste system here in the UK, which is not true."

Mr Malik said in an email that he stood by his remarks "100 per cent".

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