Women's Equality Party candidate Nimco Ali Getty
A bizarre row has erupted after an election candidate for the Women's Equality Party was accused of being "anti-feminist" for standing against Labour.
FGM survivor Nimco Ali is running in the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, a seat won by Labour’s Catherine West in the 2015 General Election.
Born in Somalia, Ms Ali arrived in the UK aged four. Three years late she was forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) when she was on a family holiday in Djibouti, east Africa.
She has campaigned against FGM throughout her life and co-founded the charity Daughters for Eve which works to protect girls and young women who are at risk.
But Ms Ali, who is only the second British-Somali to ever run for Westminster, said that since her candidacy was announced she has been on the receiving end of “misplaced anger” from Labour-supporting men and women.
Labour's Catherine West is campaigning to be re-elected in Hornsey and Wood Green (Lucy Young)
The 34-year-old said she has received dozens of messages via email and social media accusing her of being anti-feminist for trying to unseat a strong female Labour MP.
One typical message read: "Why isn't the Women's Equality Party running in Conservative seats and against male candidates? Apart from against Philip Davies I don't see that happening."
Ms Ali told the Standard: “I’ve had Labour supporters saying to me ‘if you stand then we might lose’ but I think ‘sort yourself out, sort out your policies’.
“A lot of Labour members and supporters have told me I am dividing the vote.
Hornsey and Wood Green
2015 MP: Catherine West
11,058 majority over the Lib Dems
“But so many people are complaining about Labour not having a strong leader. You only have to look at the way the manifesto was leaked. Someone is briefing against him.
“It is members of their party that have the audacity to say to me that I am splitting the vote, a split party that I once believed in having petty fights.”
Ms Ali said that she wants to make it clear that she has not chosen to stand against a woman but has chosen to stand against the mainstream parties which she believes are “failing to address women’s equality issues”.
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Ms West took the north London seat from former Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone in 2015 securing a majority of 11,058 over her rival. Dawn Barnes, the Lib Dem candidate this June, is expected to mount a strong challenge.
Ms West told the Standard: “I think the important thing is that people have a choice and that they [the candidates] should be able to stand wherever they want.”
She pointed out that it was unlikely Ms Ali would attract Labour voters in the constituency given that she voted for Tory politician Zac Goldsmith for London Mayor.
Ms Ali has been accused of being close to the Conservatives. One of her four brothers Mohamed is chair of the Somali Conservatives and she was offered the chance to stand in a “safe seat” for the party.
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But Ms Ali has insisted she is not a Conservative and could not stand for the party because of policies like the child benefit cap.
Ms Ali said she plans to fight the campaign by focusing heavily on issues including knife crime and making sure there is support for women in the constituency.
She said: “I want to focus on issues such as knife crime and gangs that are being neglected by the mainstream parties. There are many mothers that feel like they have been left behind. Many people have lost their lives to knife crime in the last couple of weeks. That is completely unacceptable.
“We want to help the mothers who could be at the forefront of preventing this violence to engage with the police and so on.”
The Women’s Equality Party manifesto includes policies such as 40 hours of free childcare per week from the end of parental leave until a child reaches school age.
The feminist party has seven candidates standing in the June 8 election include party leader Sophie Walker, who will stand in Shipley against Conservative Philip Davie