Shabana Mahmood, the candidate controversially selected to contest Ladywood for Labour, has insisted her party and constituency are not divided by race or religion.

She said she wanted to represent the people of Ladywood as a British citizen, not as a Muslim or a woman.

Ms Mahmood, the 27-year-old daughter of the chairman of Birmingham Labour Party, was speaking following reports that members of the African-Caribbean community in the constituency were disappointed at the failure to select a black candidate.

She defeated black councillor Yvonne Mosquito to win the nomination for Ladywood, which is currently represented by Clare Short. At least two requests for an investigation have been sent to the Labour leadership in London.

Bishop Joe Aldred, chairman of the Council of Black-Led Churches, has written to national officials expressing the concerns of the black churches and asking for an explanation.

And it also emerged that Jacqueline Brown, Labour’s vice-Chair in the Nechells ward, has written directly to Gordon Brown, claiming that the selection process was dogged by “skulduggery”.

In the letter, published on The Stirrer website, she said: “There is also a very real chance that one of the safest seats in the Labour Party will be lost at the next election, as the tide of predominantly Black and White residents, who backed their own local candidate and are traditional Labour voters, swings in other directions.”

But Ms Mahmood said: “This line about the split and the bloc voting is not proved by my own experience during the selection campaign. I met African-Caribbean members, I met Muslim members, I met white members. It is a very diverse membership, and that reflects the diverse constituency.

“I had to make my case as to why I should be their candidate, and that was regardless of their race or religious background.”
She added: “I know there is a line out there about divisions, my experience doesn’t mirror that in any way.”

Ms Mahmood said she hoped to improve community relations by focusing on what the people of Ladywood had in common.