Cracking Coalition? Labour Activists Pelted With Eggs Amid Rising Tensions

BATLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Voters head to the polls during the Batley and Spen by-election on October 20, 2016 in Batley, United Kingdom. The by-election in the Batley and Spen constituency was prompted by the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed in Birstall, West …
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Labour Party campaigners have been attacked in the multicultural Batley and Spen constituency ahead of the critical by-election (special election), amid rising tensions between parts of the local population and the left-wing party’s radical LGBT positions.

Activists for the Labour Party were pelted with “eggs and kicked” according to the region’s mayor, Tracy Brabin, who said that a group of leafletting campaigners “were followed, verbally abused and physically assaulted by a group of young men”.

“The group I was with included young people and the elderly. I witnessed them being egged, pushed and forced to the ground and kicked in the head,” Brabin said per the Evening Standard.

“We know why tensions are rising in our streets. Those who want to sow division are not welcome in our community.

“The actions of these people do not represent the Batley and Spen I know. We are kinder than this,” the mayor added.

While the West Yorkshire Police force confirmed the incident occurred, the background of the alleged offenders was not revealed to the public.

The campaign for the by-election has been riddled with tension, with the Islamic community — which represents about a fifth of the electorate in the area — railing against the Labour Party’s position on LGBT education in schools. British newspaper the Jewish Chronicle cites comments of local residents in their exclusive report on the area, noting some had said they wouldn’t vote Labour because it “follows the Zionist lobby”, it was claimed.

Others who spoke to the paper locally reportedly said Labour was encouraging “male to male relations” in education, said they objected to the Labour candidate being “lesbian and openly [sic]”, and that she spoke out against Palestine.

The issue of LGBT education has become a hot-button issue for a number of Muslim parents across Britain, resulting in protests in areas such as Birmingham.

The Labour candidate for Batley and Spen, Kim Leadbeater — the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, who formerly represented the seat — was verbally accosted and chased on the campaign trail last week by activists who questioned whether she would stand with Muslim parents against “LGBT indoctrination” in schools.

In footage of the altercation shared on social media, Ms Leadbeater shot back: “This is where I live, this my community. Don’t come here and shout me in the street. The Muslim community of Batley and Spen deserve better than this.”

The constituency has recently seen Islamist protests outside the Batley Grammar School after a teacher showed his students a caricature of the Muslim prophet during a lesson on blasphemy, sparking widespread outrage within the local Islamic community.

The teacher was forced into hiding after local activists leaked his identity, sparking fears that he could fall victim to a revenge attack, as befell Samuel Paty, a French teacher who was beheaded last year for showing his class a similar caricature of Mohammed.

The divisions among the two key voting blocs for the left-wing party have been exploited by far-left socialist candidate George Galloway, who has made Middle East issues, including Palestine, a top priority in his campaign in the Northern English constituency.

Mr Galloway has accused the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Kier Starmer, of being “Israel’s number one supporter in the House of Commons.”

Islamic activists have also allegedly been attempting to dissuade local Muslims from supporting Labour by pointing to the Labour leader’s wife’s Jewish heritage.

A local Labour activist told The Times that “the Muslim vote has collapsed”.

“In Spen, the way the pledges are coming back is similar to Hartlepool. Currently we’re losing it by about 6,000 to 7,000 and we could be propelled into third place,” the activist added.

The erosion of support from Muslims in Batley and Spen has been mirrored by the white working-class abandoning the party in droves over issues such as Brexit, but also because of the sentiment that Labour has become beholden to an increasingly “woke” elite in London.

Some on the left have attempted to patch over the divide within their coalition, even threatening to tar anyone pointing out the Muslim community’s aversion to the promotion of LGBT issues with the brush of racism.

“Let’s be absolutely clear about this. If Labour don’t do well in Batley and Spen, anyone who suggests this is because Muslim voters are bigots is a racist, and they must face the consequences of their racism for the rest of their political lives,” Guardian columnist Owen Jones warned.

The result of the Batley and Spen election on June 30th could have wider implications for British politics than just the seat in Parliament, with many suggesting that should Sir Kier lose another by-election to Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, then Starmer should step down as the leader of the Labour Party.

There has already been some wagon-circling, with media leaks suggesting that there are already some potential rivals for the leadership, including leftist MP Dawn Butler or the political resurrection of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who served as the leader of the party from 1994 until 2007.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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