‘Woke Social Media Warriors’: Labour Frontbencher Quits Sir Keir’s Cabinet Complaining of ‘London-Based Bourgeoisie’ Captured Labour Party

Britain's Labour Party leader Keir Starmer leaves his home in London on May 7, 2021. - Early results from nationwide local elections on May 7 showed that the ruling Conservative Party had won a landslide in the opposition stronghold of Hartlepool in northeast England, a bitter blow to the Labour …
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Labour’s shadow defence secretary said the party had been captured by “a London-based bourgeoisie, with the support of brigades of woke social media warriors” as he quit his post after the historic Hartlepool by-election defeat on Friday.

Labour’s woes intensified on Friday night in the wake of losing another once-safe seat to Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, when Shadow Defence Secretary Khalid Mahmood resigned from party leader Sir Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet, firing a caustic broadside as he did.

The Labour Party has been “captured” by a “London-based bourgeoisie, with the support of brigades of woke social media warriors”, Mahmood said, describing people who had more in common with the international Californian tech elite than the British working class which the party was founded to fight for over a century ago.

Mahmood said he would be focussing his energy as a local-level MP, concentrating on “walking the streets of my constituency as a backbencher and talking face to face with the people I have the honour to serve”, rather than engaging with the leadership of the Labour Party as its shadow defence secretary.

Writing for London think tank Policy Exchange, Mahmood hit out at the party’s recent obsession with “identity” and “division”, noting that in the race to make headlines, ordinary British people had been forgotten. Making a clear swipe at party leader Sir Keir Starmer, whose defining act as Labour boss may be recognised as the decision to take the knee at the height of London’s BLM protests, Mahmood wrote:

The loudest voices in the Labour movement over the past year in particular have focused more on pulling down Churchill’s statue than they have on helping people pull themselves up in the world… Is there a danger that our party, in its opposition and confusion over Brexit, has veered towards an anti-British attitude? I certainly worry that some of our previous supporters will see it that way.

The British people had an authentic and deep-held sense of patriotism that the Labour Party had failed to comprehend, the Birmingham MP said. Mahmood even backed a Britain-first approach to jobs when he said future government contracts should go to UK firms to secure manufacturing jobs.

The left-wing Guardian newspaper notes Pakistan-born Mahmood was England’s first Muslim member of parliament when he was elected in 2001. Former newspaper turned news site The Independent cited “Labour sources” who claimed that Mahmood had actually left Sir Keir’s cabinet “some weeks ago”, but no journalists nor the public had been actually told about the change.

Labour lost the previously unassailable safe seat of Hartlepool to the Conservatives in the early hours of Friday morning, following the Thursday by-election triggered by the resignation of an incumbent facing sexual assault allegations in March. Going from over 21,000 votes in 2017 to just 8,500, the loss has been widely interpreted as a serious challenge to Sir Keir’s leadership, as after 11 years in opposition, the Labour Party is still unable to mount a credible defence against the governing Conservatives.

Thursday’s vote also means Sir Keir joins ex-Labour supremo Jeremy Corbyn in a club of dubious virtue: opposition party leaders who lost a seat to the government in a by-election. Mid-term votes tend to favour the opposition, and it is rare to lose them. In fact, it has only happened three times in the past 40 years — to Michael Foot in 1982, Jeremy Corbyn in 2017, and now Keir Starmer in 2021, all Labour leaders.

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