Pakistani machine boss wins Labour selection

Will former mayor Afzal Khan – seen here at a St George's Day event in 2006 – be able to rely on backing from ethnic rivals in his bid to be Gorton MP?

Will former mayor Afzal Khan – seen here at a St George’s Day event in 2006 – be able to rely on backing from ethnic rivals in his bid to be Gorton MP?

Afzal Khan, boss of a powerful Pakistani machine in Manchester politics, won a bitter selection contest last night to become Labour candidate in Manchester Gorton, one of the party’s safest seats.

As we reported earlier, the three main candidates were Khan, his Bangladeshi rival Luthfur Rahman, and Yasmine Dar (a local councillor backed by the far-left Momentum faction who previously supported Sam Wheeler, a young white Labour activist excluded from the all-Asian Labour shortlist).

The ethnic basis of the contest was revealed when Rahman (who had topped the first ballot with 163 votes) was eliminated at the penultimate stage.  The majority of his voters (101) made no choice between the two Pakistani candidates remaining: once the Bangladeshi candidate was eliminated, they weren’t interested.

The final vote went 235 to Khan and 203 to Rahman.

Now the big question in the by-election (which will be held on May 4th) is whether disillusioned Bangladeshis and other rivals of Khan will rally behind George Galloway, who has a long history of exploiting Labour’s ethnic conflicts (e.g. when he won the Bradford West by-election in 2012).

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