Former judge to stand in controversial council ward

Marzia B

In what is likely to be one of the most bitterly fought wards in the upcoming Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council elections, the Labour Party has now chosen its candidate for Failsworth East.

Long-standing councillor, Norman Briggs, is standing down in May and a local resident, 55 year old Marzia Babakarkhail will take his place on the ballot paper.

Marzia, formerly a family court judge in her native Afghanistan had to flee the war-torn country after threats were made on her life. This was, in large part, due to the support she gave, in her spare time, to those campaigning for women’s rights.

Her CV is deeply impressive: She became a judge at just 26 years of age, having studied law at Kabul University and also has extensive involvement in UN funded programmes; has been director of various Afghan NGOs such as Afghanistan Commission for Human Rights, Afghan NGO Coordination Bureau and the Afghan Women’s Social and Cultural Organisation. She has founded, funded, implemented and managed numerous projects and programmes throughout central and northern Afghanistan and Pakistan that have encompassed emergency relief, agriculture, health, women’s education, women’s participation in parliamentary elections and politics, children’s rights and education, vocational training, housing construction, poverty alleviation and economic empowerment.

Having moved to the UK 13 years ago, Marzia now lives in Failsworth, and is a caseworker in the constituency office of Oldham East MP, Debbie Abrahams.

Marzia says: “I want to give back to the community and to build bridges in society.”

“My activism [for asylum seekers and women’s rights] is a fight. But becoming a councillor is not a fight.

“It’s to stand for humanity, spread love, and work hard to make a difference in the community.”

“[Failsworth East] is a difficult seat, but if I think: ‘Oh, this is difficult’, I might as well sleep for 24 hours a day. I wouldn’t go for anything.”

The Oldham Labour Party spokesperson said: “A fantastic candidate with an incredible story. If anybody can empathise with those in Failsworth in difficulty it’s Marzia”.

Sitting councillor, Pete Davis, has been announced by the Labour Party as the candidate for Failsworth West ward. He was first elected in 2018 and has made a very strong impression both locally, and across the Borough, as a tireless community champion.

Either Cllr Davis or Marzia will face the perennially controversial Warren Bates at the polls after he joined the disgraced hyper-local Failsworth Independent Party (FIP) only last week (read more here). He is said to be waiting to see who is put up by Labour, in both wards, before deciding which he will contest.

FIP is struggling to find candidates to stand and the recruitment of ex-Cllr Bates is viewed by many as an act of desperation.

Page last updated at  0655hrs on Thursday 27th January 2022

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2022. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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