Labour Party Faces Racism Row Over Hamas Blame for Predicted Mayoral Loss

Labour Party faces racism controversy after senior source blames Hamas for expected loss in West Midlands mayoral election. Party's stance on Gaza conflict has cost them seats, particularly in areas with large Muslim populations.

Nimrah Khatoon
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Labour Party Faces Racism Row Over Hamas Blame for Predicted Mayoral Loss

Labour Party Faces Racism Row Over Hamas Blame for Predicted Mayoral Loss

The UK's Labour Party is embroiled in a racism controversy after a senior party source blamed the Palestinian movement Hamas for an expected loss in the West Midlands mayoral election. The source told the BBC, "It's the Middle East, not West Midlands, that will have won [Conservative candidate] Andy Street the mayoralty... Once again Hamas are the real villains."

Why this matters: This incident highlights the ongoing struggle of the Labour Party to navigate the complexities of Middle Eastern politics and its impact on domestic elections. The controversy also underscores the need for political parties to address the concerns of diverse voter groups, particularly in areas with significant Muslim populations.

The quote has sparked fiercebacklashfrom within and outside Labour, with another party source calling it "racist" and a Conservative spokesperson describing it as "vile". Labour has strongly condemned the comment, insisting it does not represent the party's views. The Labour source's prediction comes as the party is poised to lose the West Midlands mayoral race to incumbent Andy Street whenresultsare announced on Saturday afternoon.

The predicted loss is attributed to Labour leader Keir Starmer's staunch support for Israel and hesitation in calling for a ceasefire during the recent conflict in Gaza, which has led to a collapse in backing from Muslim voters. Independent candidate Akhmed Yakoob, supported by George Galloway's Workers Party of Britain, is expected to siphon votes away from Labour in some areas. Galloway stated, "I said Keir Starmer would pay a high price for his betrayal on Palestine. Today is the start of that."

Labour sources have conceded that the party's stance on the war in Gaza has cost them seats, particularly in constituencies with large Muslim populations. The party already lost control of Oldham council, which it had held for 13 years, with those who lost their seats blaming Starmer's position on the conflict. Polling expert John Curtice noted a clear trend of Labour's vote share dropping by 8 points on average in wards with high Muslim populations.

Despite the concerning losses, Starmer emphasized that Labour is still winning votes across the country, reflecting a changed party. He expressed, "We're concerned about the loss of support, of course, but we are winning in other parts of the country, showing that we've changed as a party and we've got a positive case to put to the electorate." As of midday on Friday, Labour had secured 20 of 38 councils, gaining control of 4, with 69 councils yet to declare results.

Key Takeaways

  • Labour Party embroiled in racism controversy over Hamas comment.
  • Labour's stance on Gaza conflict costs them seats in Muslim areas.
  • Labour leader Keir Starmer's support for Israel hurts party's vote share.
  • Independent candidate Akhmed Yakoob siphons votes from Labour in some areas.
  • Labour still winning votes in other parts of the country, says Starmer.