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Now of course UKIP is dead, and is widely seen to have been superseded by the Brexit Party, founded earlier this year by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.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

Labour Party surrenders to identity politics

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?

Nominations closed a few hours ago for Labour’s candidature in the forthcoming Manchester Gorton by-election. We reported a few days ago that politics in this area is dominated by infighting between ethnic power brokers – among whom the strongest is former Manchester mayor Afzal Khan, boss of a powerful Pakistani machine who is already an MEP.

Khan remains favourite – and we now learn that the entire selection process will be dominated by Labour’s politically correct obsession with ethnic and gender identity.

A panel from the party’s national executive will choose a shortlist of four, which will be put before the local membership (who until that final stage will have no say).

This shortlist of four will have to include one ethnic minority woman, one ethnic minority man, one white woman and one white man!

While this seems absurdly pious, the cynical effect is that infighting between rival Asians will become pointless: the rumoured “intimidation” and mass signing up of ethnic blocks as Labour members will not matter, since only one Asian male can make the shortlist, and its up to Labour’s national party HQ who that will be…

Corbynista hopeful Sam Wheeler (an Oxford graduate and old boy of the prestigious Manchester Grammar School) is favourite to be the token white male on the shortlist. Afzal Khan’s rivals might also include white female Julie Reid, and Asian female Yasmine Dar. The big question is whether Bangladeshi power broker Luthfur Rahman, chairman of the Gorton Labour Party, will swing his block vote behind Khan, or whether we will again see Bangladeshis preferring to back a non-Muslim rather than a hated Pakistani.

Meanwhile George Galloway remains on the trail of disaffected ex-Labour Muslims, speaking to a local audience after Friday prayers, and playing up his role as a pro-Palestinian activist alongside the late Sir Gerald Kaufman, whose death caused this by-election.

 

Galloway scents blood as Labour engulfed by ethnic infighting

Gerald Kaufman (who died last month prompting a by-election in Manchester Gorton) seen here with Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Gerald Kaufman (who died last month prompting a by-election in Manchester Gorton) seen here in 1996 with Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Still reeling from defeat in last month’s Copeland by-election, Britain’s Labour Party faces another crisis in the inner-city constituency of Manchester Gorton, where a by-election is likely to be scheduled for May 4th. This time the problems mainly stem from the disastrous multiracial society which Labour and its Tory twin progressively imposed on this country after 1945.

Gorton’s MP, 86-year-old Gerald Kaufman, died on 19th February prompting an extraordinary outburst of vilification from his co-religionists at the Jewish Chronicle, who could not forgive a fellow Jew having opposed their organised pro-Israeli lobbying.

Part of the reason he had remained an MP for so long is that Kaufman and Labour Party bosses feared the outbreak of ethnic infighting that would dominate any selection process for his successor. Indeed the Gorton constituency’s Labour Party organisation was suspended by Labour’s national headquarters last year, due to allegations of intimidation and other malpractice linked to the Kaufman succession.

Labour’s National Executive is now in charge of the selection process: local members will have the final vote on March 22nd, but will have to choose from a shortlist imposed by the National Executive.

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

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

Two local Asian powerbrokers are among the main contenders. Pakistani machine boss Afzal Khan is a solicitor with practices in Manchester and Oldham. He was the first Asian Mayor of Manchester a few years ago, and has been an MEP since 2014.  Meanwhile Luthfur Rahman is a Bangladeshi councillor who chairs the suspended Gorton Labour Party (even though its activities are presently suspended). The latter should not be confused with his near-namesake Lutfur Rahman, the notorious former Mayor of Tower Hamlets.

The Pakistani community in Gorton is five times the size of the Bangladeshi, so Khan must be favourite, but can expect a bruising battle which might unite enemies of the Khan machine. Only a week after Kaufman’s death, Khan’s office was attacked with bricks.

In June 2010 Cllr Rahman was among five Bangladeshis acquitted on judge’s instructions after an assault case against them collapsed at Manchester Crown Court. The case arose after an alleged attack on one Mokbul Ali in the prayer hall of the Shah Jalal mosque in Rusholme. Cllr Rahman and his fellow defendants accepted a bind over to “keep the peace”.

A year after his bind over, Cllr Rahman was crowned “Community Champion of the Year” at a glittering awards ceremony in London’s West End.

Cllr Luthfur Rahman crowned 'Community Champion of the Year' by Labour MP Caroline Flint

Cllr Luthfur Rahman crowned ‘Community Champion of the Year’ by Labour MP Caroline Flint

Possible White contenders for the Labour nomination include outgoing Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, who served for fifteen years as MP for neighbouring Manchester Central: he is 67, but that still makes him two decades younger than the late MP!

Also in the frame are a couple of White Corbynistas: local councillor Julie Reid, and rising far-left star Sam Wheeler, who is locally-born but has to live down his education at Manchester Grammar School and Oxford.

Yesterday George Galloway was putting himself about in the constituency! Presumably he would stand only if Labour select a White anti-Corbynista, or if there is serious local hostility to an Asian machine candidate (i.e. Khan). He could also portray himself as the successor to Kaufman’s anti-Zionist principles. We might also see a rare outing for one (or more!) of the really fringe, Citizen Smith era far-left groups.

George Galloway visiting the Levenshulme area of the Gorton constituency on March 6th. Behind him is an old campaign poster for the 2015 (Asian) Conservative general election candidate in Gorton.

George Galloway visiting the Levenshulme area of the Gorton constituency on March 6th. Behind him is an old campaign poster for the 2015 (Asian) Conservative general election candidate in Gorton.

The Liberal Democrats have moved quickly to select a White candidate: former councillor Jackie Pearcey who came a decent second here in 2001 and 1997. She will doubtless push the Remain issue hard in the student/academic areas of the constituency where it might still have high salience almost a year on from the Brexit vote. But have students forgiven the Lib Dems for their tuition fees betrayal?

UKIP polled a surprisingly decent 8.2% here in 2015, no doubt helped by the Tories having an Asian candidate, who was beaten to runner-up by the Green. This was one of just four constituencies nationwide where the Greens finished second. (As in Gorton, the other three all had high student electorates in Bristol, Sheffield and Liverpool.)

The BNP has not contested Gorton since 1983. Richard Chadfield polled 1.1% for the NF in 1979 (in a Gorton with different boundaries). We are most unlikely to see a BNP, NF or other racial nationalist candidate here this time. None of the Gorton wards were among those contested by the BNP during the Griffin era.

NF’s Richard Edmonds to contest Batley by-election

Richard Edmonds, NF candidate at the Batley & Spen by-election

Richard Edmonds, NF candidate at the Batley & Spen by-election

Richard Edmonds of the National Front will contest the parliamentary by-election in the West Yorkshire constituency of Batley & Spen.  Polling day is October 20th.

Mr Edmonds began his involvement in British nationalism following an impressive NF result at another famous by-election, at Uxbridge in 1972 where the NF polled 8.7%, convincing many patriots (including Richard) that they represented a serious alternative to our corrupt and treacherous political establishment.

Some years earlier Richard graduated with a first class honours degree in Electronic Engineering. After working as a schoolteacher and later with the telecommunications company Cable & Wireless, he devoted a large part of his life to nationalist politics, including most of the 1990s as proprietor of a nationalist bookshop and party headquarters in Welling.  He achieved the best racial nationalist result of the 1992 General Election, polling 3.6% in Bethnal Green & Stepney.

During the early 2000s Richard returned to teaching for a few years, before rejoining the struggle to reclaim Britain for the British, as a National Front activist.

Launching his campaign earlier today, Richard Edmonds pointed out that “one quarter of all the births in this country are to mothers themselves born overseas, …it is time and it is legitimate to put the interests of our people first.

“It is time for a British voice to speak up loud and clear: Put the British people First. That British voice is the voice of the National Front.”

Click here for further information about the National Front and Richard’s campaign.

 

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