Civic nationalism crashes to defeat in Yorkshire by-election

For Britain Movement leader Anne-Marie Waters leafleting in Batley & Spen

Parts of the Batley & Spen constituency in West Yorkshire were among the strongest racial nationalist areas in Britain during the first decade of the 21st century. The BNP’s David Exley won the mainly White working-class Heckmondwike ward at a by-election in August 2003 – one of a series of BNP victories either side of the Pennines, triggered by the Oldham riots of May 2001. Cllr Exley retained his seat in 2004 and a second Heckmondwike councillor was gained in 2005. Even as late as 2010 when the local BNP fought its last campaign, they managed 17.6%.

Admittedly this is just one of the six wards that make up Batley & Spen, but the party also polled very well elsewhere in the constituency in the 2000s, including the Tory wards Liversedge & Gomersal and Birstall & Birkenshaw. Any parliamentary by-election in Batley & Spen should have been (and should still be) good news for any serious pro-White nationalist party.

David Exley (above centre) congratulated by his BNP colleague Nick Cass after he won the 2003 Heckmondwike by-election

Yet when such a by-election first occurred here, it was in dramatic circumstances that made racial nationalist campaigning appear distasteful. A week before the Brexit referendum in June 2016, Batley & Spen’s Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a deranged Heckmondwike resident who was quickly labelled a ‘far right terrorist’ by the media. Despite living in Heckmondwike, Thomas Mair had no connection whatever with the BNP and was totally unknown to any other British nationalists, apart from the eccentric Alan Harvey (a former NF member long resident in South Africa) to whose newsletter South African Patriot Mair subscribed.

The other mainstream parties gave Labour a clear run in the ensuing by-election held in October 2016 and Labour’s Tracy Brabin won a majority of more than 16,000, with the civic nationalist English Democrats in second place on 4.8% and a much-diminished BNP third on 2.7%.

Reaction to Jo Cox’s murder only briefly disguised an anti-Labour trend among White voters. As in neighbouring Dewsbury, many White voters have been repelled by what they see as an Asian takeover of the local Labour party and by policies of the Asian Labour-led Kirklees council. To some extent these voters (using Brexit as a proxy issue for unmentionable racial concerns) have drifted to the Tories in recent elections. Even though UKIP and the Brexit Party failed to make much progress here, a former UKIP activist formed a populist movement called the Heavy Woollen Independents (a reference to the former staple industry of this area) who polled 12.2% at the 2019 general election, leaving Labour even more dependent on the presumed loyalty of Asian voters, concentrated in the Batley part of the constituency.

Former Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox, who was murdered in 2016

So when Tracy Brabin won the inaugural mayoral election for West Yorkshire in May this year, causing a second Batley & Spen parliamentary by-election in five years, one can understand eyes lighting up across various populist and broadly nationalist movements. All the more so because of a mini-scandal that pushed Batley into nationwide headlines in March this year, when a teacher at Batley Grammar School was briefly suspended for showing his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

A crowded ballot paper of sixteen candidates for the by-election – held on July 1st – included several from the spectrum of pro-Brexit, populist, Islam-obsessed or broadly civic nationalism. Perhaps the best known to H&D readers were Anne-Marie Waters – the multiracialist but Islam-obsessed leader of the For Britain Movement, whose party includes several experienced racial nationalists even though its leader and her coterie are sincerely ‘anti-racist’; and Jayda Fransen, the anti-Islam campaigner and former deputy leader of Britain First who is nominal leader of Jim Dowson’s donation-hunting enterprise that calls itself the British Freedom Party (even though it isn’t and perhaps never will be a registered political party – so Ms Fransen had to stand as an Independent).

At the start of her campaign Ms Waters publicised an endorsement from ‘Tommy Robinson’, an ultra-Zionist career criminal who founded the English Defence League. Perhaps she hoped For Britain could become the political wing of the now defunct EDL – if so it was a foolish ambition.

Anne-Marie Waters outside Batley Grammar School during the campaign, where she attempted to make an issue out of the school’s suspension of one of its teachers for showing pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed

The results declared early on the morning of July 2nd told their own story. Ms Waters finished twelfth of sixteen candidates with 97 votes (0.3%), while Ms Fransen was fifteenth with 50 votes (0.1%). This was little short of a disaster for civic, Islam-obsessed nationalism – especially since unlike Ms Fransen and her paymaster Dowson, Ms Waters and For Britain had attempted to fight a serious campaign, with seasoned political veterans including Eddy Butler and his wife Sue travelling from Essex, and former BNP activist Gary Bergin travelling from the Wirral.

Nor can they point to any other candidate from the same spectrum having cornered the White vote, as this entire spectrum polled poorly. The English Democrats (who at least had a relatively local candidate) fared best of a bad bunch with 207 votes (0.5%), followed by UKIP on 0.4%, the anti-lockdown Freedom Alliance on 0.3%, the SDP (once a centrist party but now pro-Brexit populists) on 0.1% a fraction ahead of Ms Fransen, and the ex-UKIP splinter Heritage Party (absolutely no connection to H&D!) polling even worse than Ms Fransen with a truly microscopic 0.05%.

Unlike the May local elections covered in Issue 102, one cannot explain these results in terms of a resurgent Tory Party taking the votes of pro-Brexit, racially conscious Whites. Contrary to expectations, the Tory vote actually fell here compared to 2019, and despite maverick charlatan George Galloway taking most of the Muslim vote, Labour managed to hold the seat, confounding pundits and bookmakers’ odds. The Tory campaign in the final few days was handicapped by the scandal that forced health minister Matt Hancock to resign last weekend, but almost every observer assumed this would merely reduce the size of an expected Tory victory.

The by-election result declared at 5.20 am. Candidates on stage include Anne-Marie Waters (second left); Labour winner Kim Leadbeater (with red rosette next to returning officer, centre); and George Galloway (far right). Jayda Fransen is not present, since she and Jim Dowson again fought no real campaign, in another cynical betrayal of British Freedom Party donors.

I’m writing this article within hours of the result, so this is very much an instant analysis, but these are some of the lessons I think we can draw from what was surely the most significant by-election in years for our broadly-defined movement.

  • Lunatic acts of political violence are a disaster for every wing of our movement, since even the most moderate civic nationalists are tarred by association in the minds of many potentially sympathetic voters. I’ve no doubt that many racially conscious folk cast their votes for Labour’s Kim Leadbeater because she is the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox.
  • Outside Northern Ireland and some Scottish islands, very few Whites in the UK now define their politics in religious terms – and they regard those who do as a bit mad. No offence to those H&D readers who are religious believers and for whom this is the centre of their lives, but we should not fool ourselves about faith’s lack of electoral impact. Even racially conscious voters do not respond well to a campaign that is ‘over the top’ in shrill references to Islam. We can imply such things in sensibly worded racial nationalist leaflets, but hysterical ‘Islamophobia’ is not a vote-winner.
  • George Galloway won most of the Muslim vote in Batley by campaigning on issues related to Palestine and Kashmir; but there is no equivalent bonus to be won among White voters by wrapping oneself in the Israeli flag. Aggressive Zionism is not a vote-winner among non-Jewish Britons, neither does it serve as an alibi for ‘racism’ as some former BNP veteran campaigners seem to believe.
  • While Kim Leadbeater undoubtedly lost many Muslim votes because she is a lesbian (in addition to other factors depressing the Asian Labour vote), and Anne-Marie Waters perhaps lost a few socially conservative White voters for the same reason, homosexuality is no longer an issue for the vast majority of White voters, though the ‘trans’ nonsense is another matter.
  • There continues to be no electoral benefit in campaigning against the government’s handling of the pandemic. Several parties focused on anti-lockdown policies all polled very poorly, especially the one for whom Covid-scepticism is its raison d’être, the Freedom Alliance whose candidate attracted only 100 votes (0.3%).
  • Brexit’s electoral relevance is at last fading, and the Tory party’s hold over sections of the White working class is a lot weaker than many pundits have assumed. It’s Hartlepool (the ultra-Brexity constituency that fell to the Tories by a big majority two months ago) that’s the exceptional ‘outlier’; there are far more constituencies broadly similar to Batley & Spen, including neighbouring Dewsbury, presently held by the Tories.
  • Kim Leadbeater won mainly due to White voters retaining (or returning to) traditional Labour loyalties. She lost most of the Muslim vote to George Galloway. In the probably unlikely event that Galloway can recruit high quality Muslim candidates to his new ‘Workers Party’, Labour might have difficulties in some other seats, but it’s more likely that they will just have problems turning out their Muslim voters after Keir Starmer’s shift of Labour policy away from hardline anti-Zionism. Most especially the modern left’s obsession with issues such as ‘trans rights’ will be a handicap in Muslim areas across Britain.
  • The many and various consequences of multiracialism continue to provide rich electoral potential for racial nationalists, if and when we get our own act together. Many For Britain activists logically belong in the same party as British Democrats leader Dr Jim Lewthwaite and Patriotic Alternative leaders Mark Collett and Laura Towler, as well as many other movement activists and veterans of the old BNP who are (temporarily?) in political retirement.

All of these questions and more will be the background to a discussion of nationalist strategy post-Brexit and post-Covid. We look forward to hearing readers’ views in forthcoming editions of H&D.

Anne Marie Waters contests Batley & Spen by-election

Anne Marie Waters has done herself no favours in her first campaign endorsement – from the crooked chancer ‘Tommy Robinson’, former leader of the EDL

A month after her defeat in a Hartlepool council election Anne Marie Waters, leader of the For Britain Movement, is contesting a parliamentary by-election in the West Yorkshire constituency of Batley & Spen. Nominations closed earlier today and were published a few minutes ago.

Ms Waters is one of sixteen candidates at the by-election. No explicitly racial nationalist parties or individuals are standing, and though there are important policy differences between Ms Waters and most H&D readers, she is clearly the most credible candidate at this particular by-election from our movement (broadly defined). Her campaign unfortunately wasted no time making its first serious error – publicising an endorsement from the thoroughly discredited crook and Israel Firster ‘Tommy Robinson’ – but readers are likely to find that Ms Waters is still the best option on the ballot paper from a pro-White standpoint.

Batley & Spen was held by Labour’s Tracy Brabin until she was elected last month as the first Mayor of West Yorkshire, prompting this by-election. Ms Brabin’s predecessor was the murdered MP Jo Cox.

It seems likely that one campaign issue will be the controversial suspension of a Batley Grammar School teacher for showing pupils a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

Ms Waters is likely to be the most credible anti-Islamist candidate, while former MP George Galloway (standing for his new ‘Worker’s Party’) will seek to split the Muslim vote, hitherto mainly loyal to Labour.

George Galloway – seen (above left) celebrating victory at the Bradford West by-election in 2012 – has again thrown his hat in the ring, but is widely seen as yesterday’s man.

There is also a bewildering variety of what might be termed Brexiteer, populist, anti-lockdown, or anti-woke candidates including UKIP; the UKIP splinter Heritage Party; the SDP (once centrist but now a populist, pro-Brexit rump); the English Democrats; Yorkshire Party; and Freedom Alliance.

The money-grabbing scam run by Jim Dowson under the name ‘British Freedom Party’ is still not registered as a party, so its nominal ‘leader’ Jayda Fransen is standing as an Independent. She faces compensation for the ostentatiously pious vote from the Christian Peoples Alliance.

In addition to the pro-Brexit leftist Galloway, a leftwing ecologist party called Alliance for Green Socialism is standing, though the actual Green Party candidate withdrew after a Twitter ‘scandal’. And the list is completed by the three main parties, plus the fanatical Remainers of ‘Rejoin EU’.

The Batley & Spen by-election is on July 1st: results will appear on this website, and the July-August edition of H&D will include analysis of how the result affects the development of a post-Brexit, post-Covid, pro-White movement in the UK.

Jim Dowson enters electoral politics as Scotland prepares for May 6th polls

Jim Dowson (above left) with ally, turned enemy, turned ally again Nick Griffin.

Jim Dowson – right-hand man to former BNP leader Nick Griffin – is making his debut as a Scottish parliamentary candidate. 56-year-old Dowson has extensive experience in political fundraising and publicity, initially for the anti-abortion movement, and despite his longstanding Ulster Loyalism has in recent years built bridges with a small Catholic and Irish nationalist group in the Republic.

His previous electoral experience was on the Britain First slate in Scotland at the 2014 European elections, but most of Dowson’s recent political activity has been in collaboration with Nick Griffin, the former BNP leader with whom Dowson first worked professionally almost fifteen years ago. They split for a few years after Griffin (to no-one’s surprise) failed to pay bills, but a reunion was promoted by the Italian nationalist Roberto Fiore, who is the real organiser behind Dowson and Griffin’s new venture, the British Freedom Party.

The BFP, whose figurehead leader is former Britain First deputy chief Jayda Fransen, has not yet registered as a political party with the Electoral Commission, so its three candidates next month cannot have the party name on ballot papers.

Ms Fransen will be an independent candidate for Glasgow Southside in the Scottish Parliament election, opposing Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, while her colleague Joe Finnie (a former BNP organiser who remained loyal to Griffin after the latter’s expulsion from the party he once led) will contest Glasgow Pollok, against the SNP’s Justice minister Humza Yousaf.

Jayda Fransen (above right) with her ‘deputy’ Nick Griffin, who will no doubt be sharpening the knives in the party office kitchen if the party raises any serious money or support.

These two campaigns have long been expected and mentioned in previous editions of H&D. The new development is in Airdrie & Shotts, where Jim Dowson has only recently decided to stand as a candidate himself. At first we understood he was going to stand both in the Scottish parliamentary election and in a Westminster by-election that will be held a week later on May 13th. In the event he decided not to stand in the Westminster contest.

H&D understands that Mr Dowson saw a political opportunity in Airdrie & Shotts for two reasons. Firstly the farcical and money-wasting circumstances, where the sitting Westminster MP Neil Gray has triggered an unnecessary by-election because of his decision to stand for the Holyrood parliament (a farce worsened by the returning officer who quite pathetically decided that he and his team could not safely and competently hold the by-election on May 6th alongside the Holyrood polls).

And secondly because in typical ‘woke’ fashion, the ‘Scottish’ National Party is putting up yet another Asian candidate in the Westminster contest.

For some reason neither Mr Finnie nor Mr Dowson have put the word ‘Independent’ on their nomination papers for Holyrood, so they will appear on the ballot as ‘no description’.

Anum Qaisar-Javed, former general secretary of Muslim Friends of Labour, defected to the SNP a few years ago and will be the party’s candidate in the Airdrie & Shotts by-election on May 13th

Mr Finnie is unlucky to be facing opposition in Pollok from the anti-woke party Reclaim’s only Scottish candidate as well as UKIP.

Various other parties are fielding candidates across Scotland either to the right of the Tories on immigration and social issues; still flogging the dead horse of Brexit; or committed to anti-lockdown or anti-vaccination campaigns that have attracted some support from sections of our movement.

Scotland’s parliamentary election is similar to that for the Greater London Assembly in that there are first-past-the-post elections for constituency MSPs, plus additional MSPs elected via a proportional list system – one very important difference being that in London this list covers the entire city region, whereas the Scottish Parliament has eight regions each with their own list.

This means in practice that (unlike London) a fringe party stands little chance of getting an MSP elected unless their support is very heavily concentrated in just one of these regions. Whereas the system does favour the more substantial smaller parties, notably the Greens and Liberal Democrats, and in theory protects 21st century Scotland from one-party SNP domination.

Leo Kearse, ‘right-wing comedian’ and Reclaim candidate for Glasgow Pollok

Parties standing at the 2021 election include:

Reclaim (anti-woke party led at a UK level by actor and London mayoral candidate Laurence Fox)
– comedian Leo Kearse is standing both for the Glasgow regional list and in the Glasgow Pollok constituency

Freedom Alliance (a new anti-lockdown party)
– all eight regional slates;
– constituency candidates in Banffshire & Buchan Coast; Edinburgh N & Leith; Caithness, Sutherland & Ross; Glasgow Southside

Reform UK (the Scottish branch of the former Brexit Party, led by Richard Tice and associated with Nigel Farage before the latter’s retirement from party politics)
– all eight regional slates

Abolish the Scottish Parliament (a new party led by John Mortimer who founded the British Union & Sovereignty Party, later renamed the British Sovereignty Party)
– seven of the eight regional slates (not contesting Highlands & Islands region)

Scottish Family Party (anti-woke, social conservatives)
– all eight regional slates;
– constituency candidates in Renfrewshire N & W; Mid Fife & Glenrothes; Edinburgh S; Coatbridge & Chryston; Strathkelvin & Bearsden; Edinburgh Pentlands; Perthshire N

UKIP (a now much-diminished force across the UK, and especially so in Scotland)
– all eight regional slates;
– constituency candidates in Glasgow Pollok; Edinburgh C; Eastwood; Moray; Motherwell & Wishaw

Scottish Libertarian Party (a rare example of a party that’s both pro-Brexit and pro-independence; but mainly a US style small-state, pro-market, pro-privatisation party)
– all eight regional slates;
– constituency candidates in Aberdeen S & N Kincardine; Dumbarton; Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley; Glasgow Pollok; Kirkcaldy; Edinburgh C; Edinburgh W; Caithness, Sutherland & Ross; Motherwell & Wishaw

Restore Scotland (another pro-Brexit but pro-independence party; has attracted a very small number of veteran SNP activists who were also pro-Brexit; seems to be concentrated in the north / Highlands)
– regional slates in Highlands & Islands; NE Scotland;
– constituency candidates in Dundee City West; Banffshire & Buchan Coast; Inverness & Nairn; Shetland

Vanguard (sometimes known as Scottish Vanguard Party; founded by former Brexit Party candidate and barrister Michael Banks; no known connection to the Ulster Vanguard Party of 1970s fame)
– regional slate South Scotland; plus the Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale constituency

Social Democratic Party (a pro-Brexit party whose other policies seem more like the old right-wing of Labour; rump of the old SDP that supported David Owen, though Owen is no longer in any way associated with the party)
– regional slate Lothian.

Numerous other parties are standing representing leftist, liberal or establishment political traditions. H&D will report here and in the next issue of the magazine on these elections and their implications for racial nationalism.

Brexit Party struggling in by-elections

Nigel Farage – new party, same old problems

The Liberal Democrats have won yesterday’s parliamentary by-election in the rural Welsh constituency Brecon & Radnorshire, further worsening the parliamentary arithmetic for new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, making it less likely that he can achieve Brexit without a general election.

Brecon & Radnorshire was also bad news for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, whose candidate was a distant third with 10.5%. A crumb of comfort for Farage was UKIP’s embarrassment at finishing bottom of the poll with 0.7%, behind even the ‘Monster Raving Loony Party’!

Regular H&D readers will be very familiar with our long-running analyses of UKIP’s poor performance in local by-elections, which indicated a long time ago that the party was in big trouble.

Now of course UKIP is dead, and is widely seen to have been superseded by the Brexit Party, founded earlier this year by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

The Brexit Party achieved extraordinarily good results at this year’s European Parliamentary elections: 30.5% of the nationwide vote, electing 29 MEPs – easily the largest UK party at that election.

The jury is still out as to whether the election of self-proclaimed Hard Brexiteer Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and (for the time being at least) Prime Minister will end Farage’s adventure.

What does seem clear is that (like UKIP before it) the Brexit Party is struggling to turn its potential support into actual votes in local or Westminster (as opposed to European) elections.

Last week in Gloucester the Brexit Party contested two city council elections for the first time. The good news for Farage is that his party finished way ahead of UKIP. The bad news is that they finished a poor third in one and fourth in the other.

In Podsmead ward – exactly the sort of White working-class estate where the Brexit Party ought to be threatening Labour (according to many pundits) they were fourth with 16.4% (UKIP polled just 1.6%). Labour did indeed lose the seat – but to the very pro-EU Liberal Democrats, not to Farage.

In a very different part of Gloucester, Barnwood ward – equally White but far more affluent – the Brexit Party finished third with 10.5% (UKIP managed a microscopic 0.4%). Again the Liberal Democrats gained the seat, this time from the Tories.

And tonight the Brexit Party has finished a distant third in its second attempt at a parliamentary by-election. The Liberal Democrats are again the winners, but perhaps the more important story is that the Tory candidate – despite having been convicted of a criminal offence, causing this by-election in the first place – finished well ahead of the Brexit Party candidate.

It’s too early to talk about a crisis for Farage, but just a couple of months after his great Euro-election triumph, the Brexit Party is badly in need of a good result somewhere. As things stand, Boris Johnson must be tempted to call a general election – at which Farage could be sunk without trace.

Lewisham East parliamentary by-election: the end of civic nationalism?

David Kurten, former UKIP leadership candidate humiliated in Lewisham by-election

Yesterday’s parliamentary by-election in the SE London constituency of Lewisham East was another tragi-comic episode in the slow death of the United Kingdom Independence Party.

Under the leadership of Nigel Farage, UKIP won more votes and seats than any other party at the 2014 European Parliamentary elections, ending up with 24 MEPs, though never gaining more than two MPs in the House of Commons. The party was primarily responsible for forcing then Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to concede a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, resulting in the historic Brexit vote of 2016.

But that was the beginning of the end for UKIP. Structural problems and ideological confusion (already analysed in several issues of H&D well before 2016) were never properly addressed even under Farage’s leadership, and since his departure immediately after the referendum the party has been scarred by factional infighting and incompetent leadership.

Yesterday was merely the latest demonstration of UKIP’s desperate state. Their by-election candidate was one of their highest profile and most experienced performers, half-caste London Assembly member David Kurten, but he finished a poor sixth with only 380 votes (1.7%), behind not only the big three parties and the Greens, but also behind the Women’s Equality Party!

Tess Culnane – polled more votes in a single Lewisham ward than UKIP managed yesterday across the entire seven-ward constituency of Lewisham East

To put this into context, H&D readers should remember that in 2002 BNP local election candidates Barry Roberts and Tess Culnane polled more votes in a single ward of Lewisham East than Mr Kurten managed yesterday across the entire constituency (which contains seven wards)!

The only good news for UKIP is that Kurten finished ahead of his former colleague Anne Marie Waters. She had been UKIP candidate for this constituency at the 2015 General Election, polling a very creditable 3,886 votes (9.1%) in what were admittedly far better times nationwide for the party. After an acrimonious leadership election last year, Ms Waters quit and with the help of former BNP and EDL activists created a breakaway party called the For Britain Movement.

Yesterday Ms Waters finished a poor seventh, with only 266 votes (1.2%). Her only excuse is that Labour called the by-election very quickly after the resignation of the previous MP, so Ms Waters and her campaign team (which included former East London BNP election guru Eddy Butler) had very little time. Yet it must be admitted that the Liberal Democrats also had very little time, yet they succeeded in building a serious bandwagon and advancing to second place: having lost their deposit twelve months ago with only 4.4%, the Lib Dems polled 24.6% yesterday.

Anne Marie Waters on the by-election campaign trail with former BNP election guru Eddy Butler (third left, back row) and an activist team including several former BNP officials and councillors, whose help could not save Ms Waters from a crushing defeat.

The inescapable conclusion is that the Lib Dem message (almost entirely focused on pro-Remain voters) resonated strongly with a certain section of the Lewisham electorate. We know that there is a different section of the Lewisham electorate who respond to nationalist issues, including immigration and law and order, but the Islam-obsessed campaigns of Kurten and Waters failed to resonate similarly among those voters. This was despite Ms Waters’ ally ‘Tommy Robinson’, founder of the EDL, getting himself jailed during the campaign and creating worldwide publicity. Proof yet again that there is a big difference between Facebook likes, or turning out screaming mobs in Whitehall, and the serious grown-up politics of winning votes.

It probably didn’t help that Lewisham is an odd place to bang on about Muslims: the area has many immigration-related problems, but relatively few of the large non-White population here are Muslims.

The third civic nationalist candidate, Massimo DiMambro of the new Democrats & Veterans party, was always going to be overshadowed by the far higher profile and better financed campaigns of Kurten and Walters: he managed only 67 votes (0.3%).

However the Democrats & Veterans party, which is much less Islam-obsessed than either UKIP or For Britain, but takes a strong line on immigration and other nationalist issues, seems to be having more success than Ms Waters’ party in building a network of branches nationwide.

The best bet is that UKIP-style civic nationalism is dying, but when the dust settles Democrats & Veterans might be the one viable civic nationalist party still capable of making a challenge (at least for local council seats).

 

Election politics – Pakistani style!

Footage of a dinner held to support Labour candidate Afzal Khan has been reported to police.

Footage of a dinner held to support Labour candidate Afzal Khan has been reported to police.

Regular H&D readers will be familiar with the electoral saga of Manchester Gorton, where veteran Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman died on February 26th causing a parliamentary by-election which was abandoned at the 11th hour when Prime Minister Theresa May called a General Election.

The local Labour Party had been bitterly divided between ethnic powerbrokers from the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities (indigenous Mancunians don’t get much of a look-in these days).  Pakistani machine boss and solicitor Afzal Khan duly became the Labour candidate.

Today Mr Khan has been reported to police for alleged ‘treating‘ – an electoral malpractice involving provision of free food, drink or other gifts to voters.  If convicted, offenders can be disbarred from Parliament, fined or imprisoned.

According to today’s Daily Mail, Mr Khan is at the centre of “claims he bribed voters with a lavish dinner… Footage of the dinner posted online shows dozens of guests sat around tables laid with plates and folded napkins in wine glasses, as well as ‘Vote Labour’ leaflets.  A ‘Vote Afzal Khan’ banner is on display at the front of the room.”

The police complaint has been brought by the Liberal Democrats, who hope to gain the seat from Labour.  Also seeking to exploit Labour’s embarrassment is former MP George Galloway.

Afzal Khan, boss of Gorton's most powerful ethnic voting machine

Afzal Khan, boss of Gorton’s most powerful ethnic voting machine

One irony of course is that Mr Khan is himself a solicitor, so one might expect him to be familiar with electoral law, and even assuming he did not organise the dinner himself one might imagine he would have urged supporters to stay clearly on the right side of the ‘treating’ regulations.

A Liberal Democrat activist commented: “In my (admittedly limited) experience there is such an enormous expectation that candidates from some communities will host rallies with food provided that an agent from outside that community will be looked on with astonishment if he tries to explain that this can’t be done as it is an election offence.  The problem is that because nothing is ever done there is no back up for an agent trying to stay within the law.  A high profile case would probably be helpful in clarifying matters.”

In other words some “British Asian” communities expect to break the law with impunity.

 

Farage flies home: last chance for UKIP?

Will Nigel Farage return to spearhead UKIP's General Election campaign, displacing his useless successor Paul Nuttall (right)

Will Nigel Farage return to spearhead UKIP’s General Election campaign, displacing his useless successor Paul Nuttall (right)

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage is flying back to London from his Adriatic holiday, after Theresa May surprised the nation by calling a snap General Election for June 8th.

Farage’s key financial backer Arron Banks had planned to launch a long-expected new movement – the Patriotic Alliance – on May 5th, the day after what are likely to be disastrous local elections for UKIP.

He and other Faragistes were expected to conclude that UKIP was finished and it was time for a new approach.

At a stroke Mrs May has rendered these plans redundant, and just possibly UKIP has been handed a last-minute lifeline: but only if the present party leadership – headed by the hapless Paul Nuttall – has the courage and maturity to end Banks’s suspension and recall Farage for one last campaign.

The next question would be whether UKIP should contest every single constituency, presenting itself as an alternative government, or concentrate on a smaller number of seats held by pro-Remain MPs. The latter strategy would amount to accepting that UKIP is not a challenger for power across a range of policy areas, and is more of a pressure group to ensure that Brexit goes ahead unimpeded by recalcitrant Remainers.

Meanwhile it is understood that because Parliament will be prorogued the day before the scheduled Manchester Gorton by-election, that by-election will be cancelled: a successor to the late Sir Gerald Kaufman will be elected on June 8th as part of the General Election alongside every other constituency.

 

Former Lib Dem candidate joins Galloway campaign

Leading Liberal Democrat Qassim Afzal endorses Gorton candidate George Galloway

Leading Liberal Democrat Qassim Afzal endorses Gorton candidate George Galloway

Qassim Afzal – who was Liberal Democrat candidate for Manchester Gorton in 2005 and 2010, and a member of the party’s federal executive – has quit and endorsed George Galloway, the former MP and independent candidate for the Manchester Gorton by-election on May 4th.

Mr Afzal is a wealthy businessman who had been hoping to become Lib Dem candidate for the by-election, and some of his former colleagues are suggesting sour grapes after the party opted instead for ex-councillor Jackie Pearcey.

Reports on the ground in Manchester indicate that the Lib Dems are attracting significant support from white voters in Gorton, but have effectively given up on the Asian vote after Labour selected Afzal Khan, boss of the local Pakistani electoral machine. It is interesting that not a single Asian name appears on Ms Pearcey’s nomination papers: something to which a professional political party like the Lib Dems gives careful thought.

Labour is almost certain to win the by-election on May 4th, but there could now be a close battle for second place between Galloway and the Lib Dems.

Pakistani machine boss wins Labour selection

Will former mayor Afzal Khan – seen here at a St George's Day event in 2006 – be able to rely on backing from ethnic rivals in his bid to be Gorton MP?

Will former mayor Afzal Khan – seen here at a St George’s Day event in 2006 – be able to rely on backing from ethnic rivals in his bid to be Gorton MP?

Afzal Khan, boss of a powerful Pakistani machine in Manchester politics, won a bitter selection contest last night to become Labour candidate in Manchester Gorton, one of the party’s safest seats.

As we reported earlier, the three main candidates were Khan, his Bangladeshi rival Luthfur Rahman, and Yasmine Dar (a local councillor backed by the far-left Momentum faction who previously supported Sam Wheeler, a young white Labour activist excluded from the all-Asian Labour shortlist).

The ethnic basis of the contest was revealed when Rahman (who had topped the first ballot with 163 votes) was eliminated at the penultimate stage.  The majority of his voters (101) made no choice between the two Pakistani candidates remaining: once the Bangladeshi candidate was eliminated, they weren’t interested.

The final vote went 235 to Khan and 203 to Rahman.

Now the big question in the by-election (which will be held on May 4th) is whether disillusioned Bangladeshis and other rivals of Khan will rally behind George Galloway, who has a long history of exploiting Labour’s ethnic conflicts (e.g. when he won the Bradford West by-election in 2012).

Far-left rebels against Labour’s all-Asian shortlist

George Galloway set to contest Manchester Gorton by-election

George Galloway set to contest Manchester Gorton by-election

As Britain’s Labour Party descends further into civil war, the latest paradoxical development sees the party’s far-left rebel against the imposition of an all-Asian shortlist for the selection of a successor to Manchester MP Gerald Kaufman.

We reported on March 7th that the death of Labour veteran Kaufman aged 86 has ignited a long-smouldering conflict within his Manchester Gorton constituency, where rival ethnic power-brokers have long been manoeuvring.

This infighting had led to the suspension of Labour’s local organisation, amid allegations of bullying and corruption, meaning that Labour’s national headquarters was in charge of selecting a shortlist of potential candidates, with local members having to make a final choice from this shortlist.

Subsequently we were told that Labour would have a politically correct, ethnic and gender balanced shortlist including one white male, one white female, one ethnic minority male and one ethnic minority female.

It was assumed that the white male would be locally-born, Oxford-educated leftwinger Sam Wheeler, seen as close to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Yet in a sensational development yesterday, Wheeler was excluded and Labour selected an all-Asian shortlist, the first time this has happened in British politics.

Favourite is Pakistani machine boss Afzal Khan, but also on the shortlist is his bitter rival and Bangladeshi faction leader Luthfur Rahman. Making up the shortlist of five are three Asian women who serve as Manchester city councillors: Nasrin Ali, Yasmine Dar and Amina Lone.

Former MP George Galloway, who has been putting himself about in Gorton since Kaufman’s death, has confirmed he will definitely stand in the May 4th by-election, exploiting resentment against Asian machine politics and also reflecting a perception on the far-left that Corbyn’s enemies within the party have used the device of an all-Asian shortlist to exclude Sam Wheeler.

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