In the early hours of Friday 06 May 2005 , it was announced that Babar Ahmad from the Peace and Progress party had received an outstanding 685 votes (nearly 2% of the total votes) for the Brent North constituency. This was a huge achievement for his election team who rigorously campaigned on his behalf for just under two weeks. Babar Ahmad was the only parliamentary candidate in 2005 elections who was standing from prison. He was able to do so as he has not presently been found guilty of any crime. His election campaign was launched on 20 th April 2005 and was announced by Peace and Progress founder and actor, Corin Redgrave.
The principles that Babar was standing for centred on Justice and Human Rights and included:
• End Police brutality
• End to extradition without presenting evidence in British Courts
• End to torture and evidence obtained by torture
• Bring back concept of innocent until proven guilty
• Bring back British sovereignty and end U.S. interference
Babar was the only candidate in the Brent North constituency who was standing up for those principles to protect everyone’s civil liberties and human rights. He was giving a voice to those forgotten detainees who have no voice. Above all he felt that there was a pressing need to raise these issues in this General Election which meant that his only choice was to stand as a candidate from behind bars.
Throughout the election campaign many members of the public expressed shock and surprise when they heard of Babar’s situation. Many took away leaflets and promised to read about his case. The campaigners visited Wembley Market, held every Sunday close to Wembley stadium and the main, local high street. As well as this, volunteers visited constituents door to door to tell then about the new candidate. A campaign vehicle was also driven around Brent North informing voters, “A vote for Babar is a vote for justice!”. Every home in the constituency received a campaign leaflet.
It is also worth mentioning the few racist messages left on the campaign telephone line. Members of the constituency, obviously feeling threatened by Babar making a stand from prison, resorted to leaving abusive messages. Unfortunately, these individuals have become caught up in the common presumption of “guilty until proven innocent” when it comes to alleged terror suspects. Nevertheless, the resolve of the campaigners was not swayed in the least.
On the whole, these past few weeks have been challenging yet enjoyable. The election campaign team would like to thank all the volunteers who gave up their time to help and all the voters who voted for Babar. Even though Babar did not win a seat in the prestigious House of Commons, the fact that more people have become aware of Babar’s situation and the principles he stands for, is enough of a victory.
Babar Ahmad Election Campaign Team
6th May 2005
Short video of the official launch of Babar’s election campaign with excerpts from Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave and her brother, Corin Redgrave (founders of Peace and Progress Party) and ex-Guantanamo detainee Martin Mubanga (click on the link below).