Nikolay Kalinin digests the result of the Batley and Spen by-election and reminds firebrand fruitcake George Galloway to eat his hat
It didn’t seem likely, but Labour has managed to keep the Batley and Spen seat – albeit with a minimal majority of just 323 votes, with Kim Leadbeater narrowly beating Conservative candidate Ryan Stephenson.
This result brings an end to what has been a campaign that has been described as “a battleground” by one constituent, mainly due to the divisions within the Muslim community, most of whom have condemned Labour’s stance on foreign policy issues such as Palestine and have not forgotten Blair’s support for the Iraq war.
The man who helped further inflame these divisions, George Galloway, who in the days leading up to the election complained about the Batley council taking down his posters for not meeting election requirements, has responded to Labour’s win by transforming into Britain’s answer to Donald Trump and telling reporters: “On multiple grounds, we will apply to the court for this election result.”
During the campaign Galloway claimed that if Labour came in any other place but third, he would eat his own hat, and if he truly is a politician of honour, he should now keep his word and do just such.
The campaign has also seen allegations of dirty tactics used by groups in order to ruin Labour’s chances, with the most notable example being the distribution of a fake TUC leaflet highlighting Sir Keir Starmer’s support for BLM and stating that “it is high time that white people acknowledged their privilege and gave something back to people of colour.”
What Labour must remember is that their minimal majority should actually be a wake-up call for them, even if Conservative MPs and members of the public have attributed the narrow defeat of the Tories to Matt Hancock’s affair and the government pushing back “freedom day.”
Ever since MP Jo Cox – who was the sister of the new MP Leadbeater – was murdered in 2016 by a member of the far-right, there have been attempts to divide the community, and the events at local grammar school are the latest which have allowed people like George Galloway to exploit divisions for their own gain.
Even though Galloway did not manage to topple Starmer and Labour, he did manage to cause significant damage to Labour by taking away a sizeable amount of their Muslim base, notably by condemning LGBTQ+ inclusive education and promising to give control of what children can learn to their parents, which appealed to much of the Muslim population.
Labour should work as hard as possible within their English constituencies in order to prevent division, not only regarding the issue of Brexit but also regarding local issues. Starmer should also not restrain himself from condemning Johnson’s government at every opportunity, because only then will ‘Bosie The Clown’ be made to take accountability.