The chair of the Somali Conservatives says he has complained to the police after he was accused by Labour supporters online of being paid to campaign for the Tories.
Mohamed Ali told BuzzFeed News that while he and other Somalis were campaigning for the Conservative candidate in Ealing Central and Acton, Labour supporters photographed them and claimed online that they were being paid to campaign.
Ali said that the above photo was taken last Saturday, when they were in Acton to post campaign materials on behalf of the Tory candidate Joy Morrissey.
“The purpose of our visit was to post campaign materials for our candidate in the shop windows of the Somali businesses who offered us the space,” he said.
— Mohamed Y Ali (@Mohamed_Y_Ali) May 6, 2017
Ali said that they ran into a group of people campaigning for the Labour party candidate seeking re-election, Rupa Huq, who asked if they could take a picture of them.
“I asked what for and before I got a response another activist took a picture and they then walked away,” said Ali.
Ali said that no words were exchanged at any point.
However, the Labour activist who took the photo, Patrick Mackervaie, claimed on Facebook that a conversation did take place, and that Ali and the other activists claimed they were being paid.
He said that he saw them while canvassing and that the individual holding the poster was shouting at him from the other side of the street.
Mackervaie told BuzzFeed News he spoke about how much they were earning a day: “I laughed myself silly when he said £6.50 a day.
“I just think they were on a wind up when they saw several of us from Labour canvassing the same street.”
However, the man holding the poster, Abdirachid Fidow, denied to BuzzFeed News that any such claim had been made.
He said: “Labour is so bad and they are losing their core traditional supporters because some members of Labour party office in Acton think they have [a] monopoly over [minorities].”
— Joy Morrissey (@joymorrissey) May 7, 2017
Fidow said that the claims were offensive and racist. He added. “He is saying that Somalis get involved in politics to get paid.”
Since the photo was taken, Ali said that they had received online abuse from Labour supporters.
Ali called the accusations “deeply offensive and racist” and said he has reported them to the police as a hate crime.
He said: “For a party that purports to be anti-racist it is racist in the extreme to suggest anyone of colour could not voluntarily support a Conservative candidate. Exactly how does an anonymous slur on an ethnic community fit in to Labour’s anti-racist agenda?”
Said Hassan, 27, a lecturer from Kingsbury who was also leafleting for Morrissey, said they had been subjected to abuse from people online and in person. “The comments made online have been deeply hurtful and cause great offensive to me and my friends. We would expect this type of dirty campaigning from the extreme far right not Labour party members.”
Hanad Darwish, 23, from east London, was also campaigning in Acton. He said: “This incident signifies the complacency on the part of the Labour party towards certain ethnic minority communities as they have always taken their support and votes for granted so the shift in the political tide and for them to witness a rise in young, black and Muslim males joining the Tories is a bit of a shock.”
— The Muffin Man (@MuffinThrower) May 7, 2017
The claim that the campaigners were being paid to do so led the local Tory candidate to intervene.
She told BuzzFeed News that she doesn’t normally dignify anonymous slurs from male labour trolls with a response.
But she added: “However, I would direct you to the comments of Mohamed Ali, who wondered where these ethnic insults fit into Labour’s anti-racist agenda – and that the reason he and his friends support me is because no Ealing councillor has put more time and effort into helping all our communities – unlike my Labour colleagues. ”
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Ealing Labour for comment.