By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2904

Rotherham councillor Taiba Yasseen says her win is for all those betrayed by Labour

The revolt over Gaza shows the anger against Keir Starmer
Issue 2904
Councillor Taiba Yasseen (centre, in beige coat) joined the Sheffield student encampment for Palestine on Saturday

Councillor Taiba Yasseen (centre, in beige coat) joined the Sheffield student encampment for Palestine on Saturday

My name is Taiba, but my nickname is Tiger—and I’m a fighter. I’ve been a member of the Labour Party for 19 years and a councillor for nine years and I was a cabinet member as well. 

To be honest, I’ve been holding on for some time for dear life about whether to be a member of the Labour Party. It became increasingly untenable, but I hung on because I thought that outside the main parties you can’t influence decision making. 

But the party under Keir Starmer has moved away from what I saw as Labour values and integrity. One major factor in my leaving was the continuation of austerity by local councils and pushing ahead with the cuts, the decline of frontline services affecting everyone and particularly the most vulnerable. 

Another central issue was that I am one of seven children and my mother who has passed away, depended on what was then called family allowance. 

When I came here as a migrant from Kashmir, for my family, family allowance made a huge difference. But now the Labour Party has said it will continue with the Tory policy of the two-child limit on benefits. I just couldn’t take it. 

And what forced me in the end over the edge was when the party showed its support for genocide by Israel. Then it was only a matter of time to decide when to leave. 

There are important local issues too, such as the council enforcing measures on questions like bicycle lanes without proper consultation and putting housing on green space. 

All of these have angered people In the ward where I previously made sure Labour had the biggest majority in Rotherham. I wasn’t sure whether to stand as an independent, but people asked me to. 

I didn’t think we would win. This was Labour’s safest seat. But the campaign involved lots of people and this was a win for everyone in the ward. 

It was a win for all those who have supported action over Gaza, the people who came out against fracking, housing campaigners, the people who have been involved in local issues. And I’m looking forward to continuing to stand up for everyone in my ward.

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