Another brick almost fell out of the British Labour Party’s electoral wall last week with a knife edge contest fought in the Batley and Spen by-election. Narrowly avoiding an electoral humbling for Labour, the election acts as a harbinger for the potential trend of Islamic populism on course for the years ahead, with the political phenomenon of George Galloway vastly upsetting the constituency’s multicultural applecart.
The by-election, precipitated by the early departure of Labour MP Tracy Babin was contested by Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox in a campaign defined by thinly veiled multicultural infighting within the Labour family.
Hosting an Islamic population of circa 25%, the area had recently experienced a rather petrifying incident involving a teacher suspended from work and forced into hiding on account of displaying a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed to students. Alongside this the murder of a white youth, Bradley Gledhill, in what had the potential appearances of a racially charged attack set the area on edge.
While the campaign itself had its fair share of traditional “far right” candidates, from the brainless Jayda Fransen to the hapless Irish born neoconservative Ann Marie Waters, the show was stolen by the political appearance of George Galloway and the 22% he ended up capturing.
A political maverick initially existing on the anti-war fringes of the Labour Party, Galloway went on to form the Respect Party in the 2000s which saw him win the 2012 Bradford by-election. Propelled by a sizable Islamic voter blocs, Respect was accused by some of embodying a fusionary coalition of soft-Islamism and third world socialism with constant accusation of antisemitism masked by robust anti-Zionism.
Post-Brexit, Galloway’s political vehicle appears to be the ‘Workers Party’, described by some as a front for the long moribund Communist Party of Great Britain, but drawing on the same Islamic populism seen with Respect. Running on a decidedly anti-woke ticket, Galloway aimed to destabilise the Labour Party, and Starmer leadership with it, by landing a blow in a traditional heartland though vote splitting.
In a campaign marred by street level militancy and dirty tricks, the Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater was effectively ran off the streets by a group of Muslim men over her stance on LGBT education in schools. With Galloway accused of latent antisemitism and cynically mobilising the Islamic vote, many on the progressive left began to classify him as a de facto far-right candidate, despite his previous socialist street cred.
While Labour maintained their seat and Galloway was seen off, the sheer scale of his vote relative to the fact he was an area outsider has rattled many on the Labour Left. While Galloway certainly tapped into a degree of white working class disquiet, it was evident that his 22% were largely Muslim voters happy to stretch their political muscles against a gormless Labour Party.
As the Labour coalition crumbles and the fruitless dialectic between Blairite and Corbynista plays out, Galloway’s electoral surge may very well be a dark omen for the direction of British politics a generation hence. It is no major secret that many more constituencies will have serious Islamic populations a generation hence, with Muslim majorities already building in some.
Today it’s a Yorkshire by-election, but what if tomorrow it’s the city of Birmingham with a similar demographic profile?
What ideological or political hold will the buffoons at Novara Media or centrist hacks have over an insurgent Islamic movement?
Similar to Parnell setting the tempo on parliamentary politics in Britain in the 19th century, we could very well see an Islamic popular front couched in third worldist rhetoric call the shots on 10-20% of the UK electorate in the decades to come. While the British left and security apparatus have spent half a century fending off the rise of the nativist “far-right” to sustain their multicultural power games, they may have invited a totally different beast to British politics.
In Tower Hamlets and chunks of British metropolitan areas, we are witnessing the effective introduction of Islamic political muscle flowing on the back of demographic vitality. As the splintered ideological and socio-economic coalition that made up post-industrial Labour shatters we may very well see a vacuum emerge in the UK, a vacuum that may very well be utilised by budding Islamists.
Much ink has been spilt about the crossover of Labour voters to the Tories but little on the potential of a third force to appear from Islamic segments of the population, either through a new party or through co-opting parts of a feckless Labour Party.
It is a scenario some on the left are quietly apprehending, with the PR disaster of LGBT education in certain Islamised Birmingham schools being pushed back on slowly starting to cause grave concern.
In the end, the story may play out more sardonically than anything penned by Houellbecq. A Scottish born Big Brother candidate turned Assad apologist may very well have opened the gates on a new electoral movement in the UK.
However it manifests itself, we are seeing the stirrings of Islamic populism in key parts of the UK electoral system. While attention spans are fixated on the iterative pitched battles between Blairism and the radical left, very little thought has been given to what comes out of the ruins of the old Labour Party.
A new political force is brewing in Britain and it could very well be facing Mecca.