Shock as Labour appears to backtrack on own equality policy and nominates a man, Tan Dhesi, to replace Fiona Mactaggart MP at general election | Sikh Vogue

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SLOUGH’s Labour candidate to replace MP Fiona Mactaggart has been confirmed as a Kent councillor – who is male.

He is Tanmanjeet (Tan) Singh Dhesi, 38, a Gravesham borough councillor who also stood for the area’s parliamentary seat at the 2015 election, which he lost.

Mr Singh was born in Slough and is married with two children.

The surprise announcement tonight appears to show the party has backtracked on its own policy of only selecting women where women had previously been in seats.

Mr Dhesi, who is Sikh, said on Twitter: “Humbled to be selected as #UK #Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for #Slough.

“Hope to have the honour of serving the town where I was born & raised.”

Labour’s South East group said: “Congratulations to @TanDhesi, newly selected Labour parliamentary candidate for Slough.”

Slough Borough Council’s deputy leader, Sabia Hussain, 36, who had also gone for the nomination in London on Friday, said she was surprised at the decision but wished Mr Singh well.

But she said Labour had openly advertised the seat for women only candidates, including on its central website.

A disappointed Cllr Hussain, of Bath Road, Slough said: “I’m surprised it is male. It is not something I expected. It is not what the Labour party said they would do. I suppose we will know in the coming days why this decision was taken.”

Cllr Hussain said she was not made aware – during the interview process – that the party was interviewing male candidates and changing tact.

She added: “There is a reason we have a woman only shortlist because women are underrepresented. It is a shock but he is still a Labour candidate and I will support him.”

Cllr Hussain will remain on the council and was happy she had given the nomination her best shot.

Chair of Slough Labour party, Christine Hulme, said she was dissapointed with the way the decision was handled at Labour central office – and that the local party was never told officially that men were suddenly to be part of the selection process.

She said: “We were led to believe that was going to be the process (female only) until the last 24 hours.”

Ms Hulme said she understood five male candidates had been interviewed alongside five female candidates – but that the men had not necessarily directly applied for the seat. She said this meant the selection process had in fact not been opened up to male candidates from the Slough area itself.

She added: “Not everybody has had their say about this yet but obviously now there are some major questions for the NEC (National Executive Committee of Labour).

“The NEC told us it would be an only all female shortlist.

“We will give as much support as possible to Tan to get the seat but I think this will rumble on for sometime within the party.”

She added: “The instruction was clear (from Labour HQ) – if you had a retiring female candidate the replacement would be a female only shortlist.”

She also confirmed what Cllr Hussain had said – that the post was advertised for female candidates only.

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