AMAC Exclusive by Daniel Roman
Tomorrow, British voters in the West Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen will go to the polls to cast their votes in a special “by-election” to fill their vacant seat in Parliament. In the heavily Muslim area, Labour should be well ahead—but all is not well for the British Left in Batley and Spen. A British Muslim woman quoted in the Guardianhelps explain why:
“Do you know how hard it is to explain to a four-year-old why she doesn’t have two daddies?” asks one, Mrs Naeem, who declines to give her first name when she speaks to me outside the school on Thursday. Her daughter came home asking this question, she says. “She kept pushing it – ‘I want two daddies’ – questioning me: ‘Why can’t I?’ It was upsetting for me and my child.”
As a religious Muslim, she didn’t feel she could simply explain to her daughter that Daddy would have to marry another man. “You have to respect another’s person’s faith. If I feel my daughter is too young, at four, to learn Qur’an and Islamic studies, I think she’s very young to learn you can have two mummies.”
It is not only America where a struggle is on for control of the school systems. Critical Race Theory and questions of the role of sex education and whether transgender athletes should take part in sports teams based on the gender of their birth or identity are also raging in the United Kingdom. In the process, they are accelerating the Great Realignment that began with the Brexit referendum in 2016 and was mirrored in the United States with the election of Donald Trump, one in which voters are increasingly choosing parties based on their values, not their race or religion.
In Great Britain, Brexit and issues of wokeness have already placed the left-wing Labour party into conflict with its white-working class base, costing them the seat of Hartlepool, which they had held since its creation, in a special election in May. Now, Labour is finding itself in direct confrontation with another element of its coalition. Second and third generation immigrants from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, many of them Muslim, object to what they see as an assault on their culture by an overwhelmingly white, London-based, “woke” elite who behave with the same missionary zeal and faith in the inferiority of all other worldviews as their colonial predecessors in India.
For the last two years, heavily Muslim communities have been wracked by protests between local parents, who have objected to the introduction of sex education, including the detailed description of transgenderism and the gender transition process to students as young as four, and local officials, who see their role as integrating the next generation of “reactionary communities” by indoctrinating them in the cultural values of the current left-wing elite.
Caught in the crossfire have been local Labour politicians, trapped between the need to appeal to their voters locally, and the complete stranglehold on the national party held by woke interest groups who will brook not the slightest compromise or dissent with the forces of what they perceive as hate and bigotry. The inclinations of local MPs to compromise have been overruled by the national party, which, unable to challenge the Conservatives for power in London, has decided to kick down at groups they can bully.
The most stunning display of this intolerance was when Roger Godsiff, the incumbent Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green, was prohibited from running for reelection in 2019 despite the overwhelming support of the local party because he met with the protesting parents. In a country where stating that sex is binary can get one suspended from university or fired, this seemed like a warning to a reliable Labour community that they should mind their place.
Meanwhile, Rosie Duffield, the Labour Party’s women’s officer, has been the recipient of a hate campaign both online and offline for suggesting that those advocating for women’s only spaces should not be kicked out of the party. Duffield is someone Labour should listen to. She represents Canterbury, and is the first and only Labour candidate to ever win that gorgeous cathedral city, having won in both 2017 and 2019. If Labour does not have a place for her, then they may want to consider whether they have any interest in holding their marginal seats.
Such concerns will come to a head in the July 1 by-election for the parliamentary seat in Batley and Spen. Labour has held the seat since 1997, but it is a very different seat from the Hartlepool one the party lost earlier this year. While Hartlepool was overwhelmingly white, Batley and Spen is nearly 35% South Asian, the vast majority Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. In 2016, the incumbent Labour MP, Jo Cox, was murdered by a neo-Nazi with mental health issues in the runup to the Brexit referendum. Her successor was elected mayor of West Yorkshire in May, triggering the special parliamentary election. Now Labour is running Cox’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, as their candidate.
With favorable demographics and a candidate who should receive a strong sympathy vote, Labour should be cruising to a safe win. Yet polls have Kim Leadbeater trailing her Conservative opponent, Ryan Stephenson, by 6%, 47% to 41%.
Why? Well, that depends on whom you ask. Labour certainly has its preferred answer. It is that Muslim voters are anti-Semitic, homophobic, and ungrateful for Labour’s foreign policy support of Pakistan against India. Labour sources have alternatingly suggested that Leadbeater’s identity as a lesbian explains Muslim hostility to her candidacy, and recently released flyers showing Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Prime Minister Narandra Modi of India, apparently on the assumption that Modi’s suppression of Islamic insurgents in Kashmir would offend British Muslim voters. In doing so, they seem to have overlooked that nearly 40% of those voters are Bangladeshis who suffered under a genocide overseen by the Pakistani army in 1971, in which Pakistan employed the same Kashmiri militias India is now fighting to commit atrocities. It was the Indian Army under the orders of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a Hindu, who invaded and drove out the Pakistani army, and Bangladesh has been an Indian ally ever since.
The assumption that all Muslims are the same, and sexual orientation is the only reason they might not support a candidate pales in comparison to Labour’s implication that the decline in their support is due to their effort to cleanse anti-Semitism after the tenure of Jeremy Corbyn, who once referred to Hamas as “my friends.”
“Combating antisemitism has seen us hemorrhage Muslim votes,” a senior Labour official told the Jewish News.
Ignored is that Labour is not merely losing votes. Leadbeater is actually losing to the Conservative. The Conservative party is staunchly pro-Israel, and the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, once jokingly referred to veiled Muslim women as “letter boxes” in a 1990s satirical column. Yet when one Muslim man was asked why he was voting Tory despite “allegations of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party,” he replied that he was motivated by “different reasons.” As the Guardian reports, he pointed “to neighbouring Dewsbury, who voted in a Conservative MP in 2019 and has just received £24.8m from the government’s towns fund. ‘If we have a Labour MP, we’re not going to get anything – and Batley needs reviving,’ he said.”
Working-class second and third generation Muslim voters seem to want the same things as their white counterparts in Hartlepool, or for that matter, in Dewsbury: a government that works, an immigration system that does not undercut wages, and trade policies that protect them against Chinese Communist Party economic warfare. While they have preferences on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, that is not a voting issue for them. What is, however, is the need for basic respect. And Labour has shown the same contempt to its non-white Muslim voters as it has shown to its white working class voters. If the former are uneducated, xenophobic, racists who hate immigrants and the EU, then the latter are homophobes and anti-Semites, who are nonetheless voting for a party which legalized same-sex marriage and is closely aligned with Israel.
In Ohio, voters did not abandon the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party abandoned them. But more than that, it insulted them on the way out, calling them deplorables. The UK Labour party seems to be following the same playbook, only now, to use the parlance of “wokism,” the disdain is intersectional. The modern Left is proving that it does not just have disdain for working class voters who are white, or for religious voters who are Christian, but for all working-class voters who dare to challenge their betters, and any religious voters who dare to object to the woke agenda being taught in their schools. The result is likely to be that Labour will lose Batley and Spen for the first time in 30 years.
Daniel Roman is the pen name of a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics.
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