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).
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.
Votes are still being counted in today’s Dutch general election, but it seems that Geert Wilders, the anti-Islamic activist seen by some (though not H&D) as part of Europe’s “far right” has made far fewer gains than expected.
The first headline was the record turnout of 82% (here in the UK we haven’t had that sort of turnout since 1951).
And though Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative People’s Party has lost seats, it will remain the largest party. Rutte will stay in office with the support of several other centre-right and liberal parties.
Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom will be the joint second-largest party, probably increasing its representation in the Dutch parliament from 12 to 19, but has no chance of a role in government. Though an improvement on last time, this is well below Wilders’ best result in 2010 when his party won 24 seats.
The biggest winners today were a very different opposition party, Green-Left, who became the largest Dutch left-wing party, quadrupling their parliamentary seats from 4 to 16. While the big losers were the Labour Party – formerly, as in the UK, the main opposition party – who collapsed from 35 seats to 9.
As in France, the Dutch left is now fragmented into several different parties, with more radical forces in the ascendant. And that is the big long-term story: as in many other countries, mainstream conservatism just about holds on to power by patching together coalitions, getting weaker all the time; meanwhile the Left is in existential crisis, increasingly obsessed by racial/gender identity politics or environmentalism, while unable to face the fact that mass immigration has betrayed the Left’s traditional constituency – the white working class.
Liberal media commentators will be quick to hail this result as a setback for the “European far right”, but the truth is that Marine Le Pan is a far more serious politician than Wilders, and her FN has a much more solid political base than the Freedom Party. Don’t bet against Marine Le Pen winning the first ballot in next month’s French presidential elections!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thursday’s Northern Ireland Assembly election proved a sad day for all Loyal Ulstermen and their friends across our increasingly Disunited Kingdom.
The costly shambles over the Renewable Heat Incentive (otherwise known as ‘Cash for Ash’) was cynically exploited by two parties – Sinn Fein and (shamefully) the Official Unionist Party – but predictably only Sinn Fein benefited.
Terrorist sympathiser Michelle O’Neill thus took a step closer to becoming First Minister of Northern Ireland, while the IRA godfathers behind her celebrated yet another own goal by the Unionist establishment.
With the Assembly reduced to 90 seats, the target for the Democratic Unionist Party was 30 seats – enough to ensure an effective veto known as a “petition of concern”, but they have fallen two seats short. Critically this means that even with the support of Jim Allister, leader of Traditional Unionist Voice, who retained his seat in North Antrim, the DUP will not have the 30 votes required for an effective block on (for example) gay marriage.
As for broader issues of who now runs Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein are likely to use their strengthened position to claim the scalp of Arlene Foster, DUP leader and outgoing First Minister. Edwin Poots, re-elected for the DUP in Lagan Valley, supported his leader today but hinted that she might be considering her position.
While it is unlikely that the DUP and Sinn Fein will be able to agree a new coalition within the official three week deadline, something will doubtless be patched up in due course to avoid a return to direct rule from London, which would be a disaster for Prime Minister Theresa May.
The big loser on Thursday – deservedly – was Official Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt who resigned after the failure of his opportunistic effort to destabilise the DUP. Nesbitt had called on his supporters to give their second preference votes to the nationalist SDLP rather than to the DUP, a shocking betrayal of the unionist interest.
Meanwhile UKIP confirmed their utter irrelevance in Northern Ireland. They contested just one Assembly constituency – East Antrim – but this tactic of concentrating their resources failed miserably. UKIP candidate and Carrickfergus councillor Noel Jordan was eliminated with just 4.2% of first preferences. (The Assembly is elected by the Single Transferable Vote system, with each constituency now electing five MLAs.)
Mr Jordan told the Belfast Newsletter:
“We just don’t know what happened. I can’t explain why our vote has dropped.”
Shneur Odze – Orthodox Jewish rabbi and UKIP candidate for the first Greater Manchester mayoral election on 4th May 2017 – is once again in trouble because his religious practices clash with political correctness.
More than three years ago when Rabbi Odze (a member of the Lubavitcher Jewish sect) was on the UKIP slate for North West England at the European Parliamentary election, he made national headlines because Orthodox Jewish “religious modesty” laws forbid him to have physical contact with women. Dr Fred McGlade resigned as UKIP’s North West regional organiser in February 2014 because he felt it was inappropriate for Odze to be a candidate. The national UKIP leadership – cynically aware that having Odze on the ticket might help them distance their party from the “far right” took the rabbi’s side, and Dr McGlade quit the party.
Last weekend the issue was raised again by Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Jane Brophy, who complained that Odze refused to shake her hand at a hustings event – not because he objects to Lib Dems, but because he refuses on principle to shake hands with women.
Ms Brophy said:
“I think if you’re standing for a position then religion shouldn’t come into it. I should be treated equally as a woman, as a candidate, as everybody here.”
Perhaps a more serious objection to Rabbi Odze standing as a candidate is that when serving as a Tory councillor in Hackney in 2004, he was censured and suspended from the council for three months after removing a sack of electoral registration forms from the Town Hall and delivering them to a local newspaper in what he claimed was a stunt to reveal poor security. His suspension followed failure to complete a supervised ethical training programme.
The panel censuring Odze commented:
“The evidence indicates that Councillor Odze was, at the least in part, motivated by a wish to compromise the Mayoral election. The evidence suggests that Councillor Odze was aware that what he was doing was wrong, that he was misusing confidential information and that his actions likely to bring his office into disrepute. …Cllr Odze undermined public confidence in the Council and he encouraged a member of staff to breach their contract of employment by co-opting them to assist him in this plan.
As stated above the breach of trust involved in the incident was such as to go to the heart of the relationship between Councillor Odze and the Council. It is difficult to imagine a more serious case being referred back to the Council for local determination.”
Dr Peter Doran lectures in “sustainable development and governance” at Queen’s University Belfast and has worked for the United Nations on environmental issues. Some years ago he was a candidate for the Green Party, for example at the Upper Bann by-election in 1990.
Dr Doran has now turned a different shade of green, and is Sinn Fein candidate in the Lagan Valley constituency at today’s Northern Ireland Assembly elections. He also writes for a pro-Republican blog.
Quite disgracefully, as pointed out in a letter to the Belfast Newsletter by Robbie Butler (Ulster Unionist candidate for Lagan Valley), Dr Doran has failed to condemn the IRA’s murder of his fellow Queen’s University law lecturer Edgar Graham, who was shot dead on the Queen’s campus in December 1983. Unsurprising as Dr Doran is a candidate for the political wing of the IRA, the direct descendants of Edgar Graham’s killers.
Fortunately Dr Doran stands no chance of being elected in Lagan Valley today. He should perhaps remember that Loyal Ulstermen have had their own way of dealing with terrorists and their apologists – Sheena Campbell (who was Sinn Fein candidate in the same Upper Bann by-election when Dr Doran stood for the Greens, and was the fiancée of IRA bomber and sniper Brendan Curran) was executed by the UVF in October 1992.
UKIP crashed to a double defeat in two Rotherham by-elections yesterday. This is of course the council that was disgraced by its multiple failure to deal with the scandal of child abuse by Pakistani-origin residents. So bad was the scandal that Whitehall commissioners were appointed to oversee with most of the council’s affairs, and every councillor had to face re-election last May, leading to the election of 14 UKIP councillors as the main local opposition to Labour.
Yet far from building on this breakthrough, the party (now under the supposedly more northern-focused leadership of Paul Nuttall) seems to be in reverse gear.
In Dinnington ward, UKIP councillor Ian Finnie (first elected when he gained the seat from Labour in 2014, then re-elected in second place as part of last year’s all-out Rotherham election) had stepped down from the council claiming ill-health and family issues.
Labour hammered UKIP in the consequent by-election.
ROTHERHAM Dinnington (Lab gain from UKIP)
VJESTICA John (Labour Party) 670
HUNTER Lee James (UKIP) 303
MIDDLETON Christopher Norman (Conservative) 238
SMITH David (Independent) 232
HART Jean (Independent) 180
SCOTT Steven (Independent) 81
FOULSTONE Charles David Dowsing (Green) 78
THORNLEY Stephen James (Liberal Democrats) 75
The other by-election was in Brinsworth & Catcliffe ward, where the infamous Cllr John Gamble (later of the NF and EFP) was elected for the BNP in 2008. This ward went two Labour, one UKIP at last year’s elections. One of the (White) Labour councillors was forced to resign before Christmas after being found guilty of a sexual assault – nothing to do with kids this time: he ‘groped’ a female colleague at an official function. We assume alcohol was involved.
One might have thought this situation was made for UKIP, but again they polled very badly. Surprisingly the Lib Dem won by a landslide: apparently he’s a well known local doctor and they did one of those typical intensive Lib Dem local campaigns. Labour didn’t help themselves by putting up a (female) Asian candidate in a 90% White ward! Fair enough, she had won the ward in 2012 (when the main opposition was the BNP, who were damaged by the Gamble fiasco and generally dying). But in 2016 she was the one out of three Labour candidates who didn’t get in: UKIP beat her to get the third spot. I assume she will now retire from politics…
ROTHERHAM Brinsworth and Catcliffe (Lib Dem gain from Lab)
CARTER Adam Jonathon (Liberal Democrats) 2,000
AHMED Shabana (Labour Party) 519
WEBSTER Steven (UKIP) 389
OLIVER John Lester (Conservative) 91
WHYMAN Rebecca Louise (Green Party) 30
A Financial Times survey of Labour councillors in some of its traditional heartland areas reveals demands from the party’s grassroots for Jeremy Corbyn to take a tougher line on “hard Brexit” and immigration controls.
Labour is increasingly divided between young liberals in inner London and other major cities, who typically supported the EU and favour Corbyn’s policy of unrestricted immigration, versus more socially conservative but traditionally pro-Labour voters in outer London and old industrial areas of the North and Midlands.
Peter Chand, a Labour councillor in River ward, Dagenham, said “the feeling on the doorstep is mainly about migration”, and suggested that his party should not insist on free movement when most voters had rejected this by voting for Brexit. Cllr Chand (who seems to be of Asian origin himself) says that the party should ease voters’ concerns by supporting “some kind of cap” on immigration.
Another Dagenham Labour councillor, Lee Waker of Village ward (where the BNP won a seat in 2006), told the FT that he favoured “hard Brexit” because for his voters “the quicker the EU is gone the better”.
Some of the councillors surveyed believed that UKIP remained a serious electoral threat in traditionally Labour-voting areas, while others felt that the Conservative Party remained a more realistic challenger in most of the country.
As it happens, most of the local elections in 2017 will be in Tory-dominated county councils. There are no scheduled elections in London, and most of the Labour-dominated metropolitan boroughs have no council elections, though new “super-mayors” will be elected in seven regions. If UKIP’s new leader Paul Nuttall is serious about challenging Labour in their traditional heartlands, his party will be concentrating on these – especially the new Tees Valley region which includes Hartlepool, one of his party’s growth area.
However local by-elections during 2016 (regularly analysed in each issue of H&D) have shown UKIP failing to make a serious impact in White working class areas that ought to have great potential. One recent example was Higher Croft ward, Blackburn with Darwen. At a by-election on December 15th, UKIP finished runners-up with 25% – at first sight a good result. Yet this is a ward where the BNP polled almost 30% at their peak a decade ago. If UKIP (post-referendum and post-Trump) is going to win Labour seats in northern England, it should certainly be winning Higher Croft (or at least coming a lot closer).
UKIP has just over four months to get its act together: failure in 2017 would surely mean the party’s over.