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Fury at Labour's segregated rally: Sexism row after men and women are split up at Asian party event ahead of key Oldham West by-election
Labour faced a sexism row today after men and women were segregated at an Asian party rally. The meeting organised by the party's Friends of Bangladesh group was held ahead of Thursday's crucial by-election, which Labour is in danger of losing.
Photographs of the event in Oldham West and Royton, where one in five voters is from an ethnic minority, shows Asian men and women sitting in separate rows.
Critics said allowing the sexes to be split up at the party-run event was 'shameful' and accused Labour of 'putting political correctness ahead of equality' in order to win votes.
Before the May election Labour was rocked by a similar segregation scandal when men and women were split at an Islamic centre rally in Birmingham.
Labour insiders say support for the party is 'bad' in working class areas of Oldham. . . But the party is pinning its hopes on securing support from the Asian community to hold the seat which was won in May with a 15,000 majority. There have been some reports that some Asian voters have lived in the area for more than a decade and do not speak English - but will vote Labour.
Yesterday's Friends of Bangladesh event was in support of Jim McMahon, who is the party's candidate in Oldham West on Thursday.
Photos of the event, organised by Labour Friends of Bangladesh and attended by the Labour candidate and several high profile MPs, shows men and women were almost entirely segregated.
Only two women sat among the men and both were not Asian.
Pictures of the event yesterday were tweeted by Debbie Abrahams, MP for neighbouring Oldham East and Saddleworth, and shadow minister for disabled people whose role involves fighting inequality.
John Bickley the constituency's UKIP candidate said: 'Is this really Labour's modern Britain?Where a political event is segregated by gender? This was not a religious meeting where cultural traditions must be respected. But a political gathering…”
Labour today claimed that women were not forced to sit away from men. A party spokesman said: 'The accusation of gender segregation is absolutely untrue. The Labour party's record on gender equality speaks for itself. Ukip are clutching at straws for something to say in this election because they have no answers to the real issues facing voters in Oldham'.
Internal polling is said to show that Labour could be in danger of losing the seat on Thursday after Michael Meacher's death. Ukip is targeting the white working class in the town and hope to collect Asian voters who are unhappy with Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and also keen to leave the EU.