Tuesday, October 19

Win or not Labor Batley and Spen, the party is in serious trouble | Owen jones


IOn the streets of the West Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen, voters are uttering phrases that in the past have chilled the bones of Labor colporteurs in the fallen heart of Scotland’s party and the so-called red wall. “Work has left us,” some say; “We are going to teach them a lesson,” say others. They are disproportionately, but not exclusively, Muslim in a constituency in which a fifth of voters are of Asian descent, and their disillusionment has an angry edge.

Before the election in July 1, the Labor hierarchy seems to be stuck in the patterns of remote complacency we’ve seen before. The mistakes that saw his historic loss of Hartlepool in the May election, and the collapse of the central parts of its support in the course of a generation, runs the risk of repeating itself again.

Some Labor councilors, wishing not to be publicly identified for fear of being denounced for disloyalty, say that on several streets that provided overwhelming support for their party in the 2019 general election, residents are now hurling insults at their voters. George Galloway, who joined the race in late May for the Workers’ Party of Great Britain, caused tremors in the Labor campaign. One of Britain’s most divisive politicians, he has several global defeats on his belt, most recently in Scotland, but also two staggering victories over Labor in East London in the 2005 general election and in the Bradford general election. West 2012, just a few miles away. Batley Highway.

There are more than three million Muslims in Britain, and in the 2019 elections, a staggering 86% of Muslim voters they said they supported Labor. They are fundamental Labor voters. This is an important point to emphasize, because if Keir Starmer’s group is defeated here, although that is far from certain, then a narrative will form that this is a strange and unrepresentative result. But the failure to recognize British Muslims as key pillars of the now crumbling Labor electoral coalition is fueling the party’s crisis.

I meet Hasan Badat at a take out restaurant across from Batley City Hall. He remains a member of the Labor Party, though probably not for long, given that he is campaigning for Galloway, and he tells me that the party “treats Muslims like rubbish.” Resentment over the selection of the Labor candidate has not helped. Kim Leadbeater is full of charisma – his campaign zeal leaves his team exhausted – and he has impeccable local roots; But Muslim party members resentfully mutter that their community’s candidates were overlooked because Leadbeater is the sister of former Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, who was killed by a fascist terrorist five years ago.

What threatens Labor in this West Yorkshire community is the specter of “pasokification”, A process that describes the disintegration of the social democratic parties in Europe, named after the dramatic quick settlement of Greece’s Pasok during the eurozone crisis. When, shortly after the 1997 New Labor landslide, Peter Mandelson allegedly declared that working-class voters “I had nowhere else to go“It reflected an arrogance on top that” core “or” heart “voters were clustered, whatever happens, letting the Labor Party tailor its policy leaflet solely to meet the needs of wealthy undecided voters. .

Scotland was the first to test this theory to destruction: The nation that produced the first Labor leaders and where its last two prime ministers were born won 41 seats for the party in 2010, a tally that was erased, save one, five years. later. Families with a Labor voting tradition that spans generations, from Glasgow estates to Edinburgh dwellings, now spit “red Tories” on their former political home.

In England, the so-called red wall is more complicated: Labor actually secured the same share of votes there in 2019 as it was in 2010, and the party’s electoral defeat is partly explained by the Conservatives. cannibalizing a lot by the historic Lib Dem and after the Ukip vote, and by younger voters with few job prospects moving elsewhere. But Labor colporteurs repeatedly encountered the same phenomenon: a sense of betrayal and neglect among some older voters.

While the majority of the electorate strongly rejected Jeremy Corbyn in the 2019 elections, Yunus Lunat, a lawyer who became the first Muslim to serve on the board of the Football Association and emphasizes that he does not personally share Corbyn’s policy, nevertheless believe that most British Muslims were “happy” with his leadership. The former leader’s story of supporting Palestinian national self-determination and opposing Islamophobia, combined with radical domestic politics that resonated with a minority suffering from serious illnesses. levels of deprivation – Without a doubt, they were decisive factors. However, according to a survey released this week, while Muslim support for Labor in general remains strong, Starmer himself is in negative territory. A perceived silence on Islamophobia and retreat from international issues has left many Muslim voters feeling discarded after the 2019 defeat. Mail on sunday The columnist stated, “Red Wall voters think Labor cares more about the Palestinians than they do,” he failed to acknowledge that Red Wall voters include, say, many Muslims in places like Batley, as well as some not. Muslims, who do care about international justice issues. Take Hanif Mayat, who was elected local Labor councilor under Tony Blair. He states that the Labor Party “chose the wrong Miliband” in 2010, “because of the unions,” but expresses anger at Corbyn’s treatment and believes that Palestinian justice has been abandoned. Now he’s campaigning for Galloway.

The belief of many Labor figures that international affairs are of marginal concern to voters clashes with political reality in a constituency like Batley and Spen. As I listen to Galloway rant about Labor condemning fans for booing English footballers who kneel, he sounds like an anti-awake right wing; But it’s his fierce speeches against the Iraq war and Israeli occupation that many locals are familiar with, and they harass him as we walk down a street.

In contrast, Starmer’s recent sudden waving of the flag in favor of the Palestinian cause at the prime minister’s questions is widely and rightly resented as mere opportunism, fueled by panic over Labor prospects in Batley and Spen. Meanwhile, the recent withdrawal of an iftar The fact that an aide supports the boycott of Israeli dates has been noted by some in the constituency. Leadbetter is clearly respected and loved by many constituents, but he seems unable to answer, say, whether he would support an arms boycott against Israel. The feeling that Labor has no clear stance in the Starmer era is understandably widespread.

Labor’s existential problem runs deep and predates Starmer, even if his team was driven by an arrogant assumption that they marked the return of “adults” to party leadership, who believed that salting the Earth would restore credibility. among skeptical voters without bleeding. support for. Yet, first as a tragedy and then as a sham, the same fatal mistake is being disastrously repeated – of believing that the “core” voters had nowhere else to go.

Labor is able to retain this seat thanks to the party’s formidable voting machine, and perhaps many Muslim voters will sulkly tick the Labor box on Election Day despite their deep disappointment. But the emotional bond between several other compromised constituencies of the dwindling coalition of Labor voters eventually frayed until it broke. Many Muslims, like many young people, who felt heard under Corbyn’s leadership, now feel marginalized, only seen as useful for voting. Whether it’s this election or the next, they want to kick Labor until they listen to them. That is, after all, what many staunch Scottish Labor voters felt: but when they crossed the electoral Rubicon, they never came back.


www.theguardian.com

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