West Midlands Police have stepped in to launch an inquiry after we highlighted footage showing a fight on the doorstep as Labor activists delivered leaflets in Small Heath. Officers now plan to quiz those involved.
Labor leader Ian Ward has pledged to press for tough action against anyone involved who is found to have any connection to the Labor Party and the city’s election. He said he was appalled to see violence happen in this way, adding: “They cannot allow themselves to be provoked into violence by someone coming out of their home when you have knocked their door. People need to exercise restraint.”
Trouble erupted on Saturday afternoon when Small Heath council candidate for Labor, Saqib Khan, and neighboring councilor Mohammed Idrees were leafletting in Kenelm Road, accompanied by supporters and activists.
Read more: Watch as dramatic brawl breaks out on campaign trail in Small Heath in latest election bust-up
During one doorstep encounter, things turned ugly, with one resident punched and kicked several times. The moment was captured on video by a neighbor and quickly circulated. Birmingham Labor confirmed they have launched an inquiry.
West Midlands Police initially said they had received no reports to investigate, but have now said they are formally investigating the incident.
A spokesperson said today: “We are aware of a video circulating on social media of a fight in Kenelm Road, Bordesley Green on Saturday (April 16). While we have not received any formal reports, officers are looking into this and will speak to individuals who they believe to be involved.
“If anyone has any more information please contact us via Live Chat.” The West Midlands regional Labor Party are also formally investigating.
Speaking to Birmingham Live this afternoon, Cllr Ian Ward, council leader, said: “The first I heard of it was when I was sent the video. I absolutely condemn violence, we do not want violence in local elections here or anywhere.
“The Labor party will investigate and today I have written to every Labor candidate to remind them of the high standards set for them and those canvassing and campaigning on behalf of those candidates.
“If those high standards are not met people are likely to find themselves facing disciplinary procedures by the Labor party. What happened in that video is unacceptable.
“Even if people are provoked, people have to move on from these things. They cannot allow themselves to be provoked into violence by someone coming out of their home when you have knocked their door. People need to exercise restraint.”
Questions are now being asked about the vetting and suitability of some of those who were on the campaign trail in Small Heath at the time of the incident. Deputy Tory leader Cllr Ewan Mackey said: “Here in Birmingham, the Conservative Party cultivates a listening culture with all residents so we can understand the issues that affect all communities.
“With this in mind, we were horrified when shown the video of the incident in Small Heath that appeared to show a fight involving a Labor Party campaigning group and a Small Heath resident. We emphasize to our candidates that this type of behavior is unacceptable.
“We expect to see the Labor Party take action against any of their activists found to be involved. We urge any residents concerned by the actions of Labor activists on the doorstep to contact the police if they are at all worried for their safety.”
One local resident said it was unlikely to be the end of the matter, with questions now being asked about why some of those present had any part in the election campaign. On social media, the individual identities of those caught on film has been subject to widespread speculation.
The full list of candidates in Small Heath, with two seats available, is as follows: Nowshed Abu, Local Conservatives; Shabina Bano, Labor Party; Aftab Hussain, Local Conservative; Saqib Khan, Labor Party; Naveed Sadiq, Liberal Democrats; Mohammed Saeed, Liberal Democrats.
The city goes to the polls on Thursday May 5th to elect an entire new council of 101 councilors.
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