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Muslim voters pivotal for Labour’s decisive Batley by-election

18th Jun 2021
Muslim voters pivotal for Labour’s decisive Batley by-election

Sir Keir Starmer must rectify his ambiguous attitude towards the Muslim community (Photo credit: Chatham House)

It took Keir Starmer an entire month to address Israel’s (latest) slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, an occupied territory under its responsibility. And so it was left to the Liberal Democrat’s Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman, Layla Moran, to raise an urgent debate on May 12 to press the UK Government to back a UN Resolution condemning the worst military attacks in years.

It was not until June 9, during PMQs, that the Opposition Leader even mentioned the ‘appalling’ killing of 67 Palestinian children and two in Israel. Cynic suggested his belated intervention was prompted by fears Labour could be heading for another ‘red wall’ seat loss in Batley & Spen that could prove fatal for Starmer.

The Muslim News warned of the electoral risks caused by Starmer’s lacklustre performance, which has produced little in the way of policies. His fence-sitting has extended to ignoring Israel’s belligerence and Muslim voter indignation at it.

George Galloway’s decision to stand in the by-election should not have been Starmer’s wake-up call, the warning that the traditional Labour support of many Muslims was under jeopardy. Our editorial last month calling on Starmer to rectify his ambiguous attitude towards the community could not have made this clearer. But like with so many issues, it has been left in limbo with the real danger of losing the seat previously held by the late Jo Cox.

Since the start of the Labour movement towards the end of the 19th century, only three Labour leaders have won elections (eight between them). The first did not come until Clement Atlee at the end of World War II in 1945 when the party swept to power in a landslide victory. After over 450,000, including 67,000 civilians, lost their lives, the most ambitious rebuilding plan was embarked on. It included a wholesale nationalisation programme and the creation of a modern welfare state, including the establishment of the NHS.

Due largely to the Covid pandemic, the world is at a similar junction, and once again it is calling for visionary political and economic reforms at a time of unprecedented levels of polarisation. Once upon a time, Labour stood for social justice, equality and inclusiveness, but the way the party is drifting, it is doubtful whether it will ever be such a force again while the Tories have become more divisive and right-wing.

If Starmer feels unable to take up the cause, and he has shown little that he does, no one should prevent a replacement election. The Batley & Spen by-election is crucial making Muslims instrumental in the future of Labour as they have been since Tories lost to Labour in 1997 thanks to Muslim voters. Muslims have warned Labour they have taken Muslim support for granted and are not listening to their concerns. As many Muslims told The Muslim News, “Enough is enough”

Muslim voters could decide crucial Batley & Spen by-election

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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