Does Labour take the BAME vote for granted?

30th March, 2012 6:12 pm

I woke up this morning hoping that last night’s election result was nothing but a bad dream. Unfortunately, the first image that greeted me was one of George Galloway grinning like a Cheshire cat on my television.

Why did Labour lose in Bradford? We didn’t just lose, we lost disgracefully. Why have young Muslim voters lost confidence in Labour to the point where they would rather have someone like Galloway represent them in Parliament? Someone who mercilessly manipulates Islam to suit his own needs. Someone who unashamedly neglected his former constituents in one of the most deprived boroughs in the country. Someone whose voting record in Parliament is virtually nonexistent.

It is wholly inaccurate to say that the Muslim voters in Bradford are extremists. They are not terrorists. They are predominately ordinary law abiding citizens who happen to be of a Muslim background.

Additionally, it is just too simplistic to say that the Muslim youth were solely sucked in by Galloway’s sprinkling of Arabic, his commitment to not drinking and his declarations of being an honorary Muslim. We cannot fall into the trap of underestimating these young people. These are intelligent people whose families traditionally voted Labour but who have decided that Labour (or any of the other mainstream parties) has failed them.

Our defeat in this election is more symbolic of a wider problem. The fact is, for years, we have exploited the Asian block voting mentality when it served us. However, the danger with that approach is when the block vote turns against us, our candidate loses disastrously.

Is the criticism that Labour has started taking the BAME vote for granted justified? Do we consult BAME members before making decisions that affect their livelihoods? I know we rely on the fact that their parents voted Labour so they’ll vote Labour. We are happy for them to vote for us without taking the time to communicate our values of social justice and equality to them.

Well, the Bradford voters decided to take matters into their own hands and indulged in what is now fashionably known as ‘community organising’, except they did it against the Labour Party.

If we want to avoid such disastrous defeats, Labour needs to respond to BAME communities with a more sophisticated approach; one that recognises these differences and engages with each community at an appropriate level to enable real dialogue to take place. It’s time we actually listened to their grievances and acknowledged their changing aspirations (and, as a result, their changing voting patterns).

No one is denying that there are common characteristics shared by these groups. These include being concentrated in cities, having strong community structures, often higher levels of deprivation, social exclusion and lack of political participation. However, even though the problems are similar, the solutions needed to be different for respective communities.

Simply put, the idea of a collective BAME community is flawed.  Until we realise that ethnicity is diverse and cannot be put under one umbrella, we will never get the correct policy to deal with these communities. To treat the BAME community as a homogeneous block is, at best lazy, at worst iniquitous.

It may seem that this is an argument for segregating political engagement, it’s not. It is simply a request that we put as much effort into understanding these sub groups within society as we do with political analysis of the non-BAME electorate. For example, working mothers, the conservative working class – politics is always looking for ways to cut society into understandable groups that can be engaged with coherently. Why don’t we do this with the BAME electorate?

Let’s face it – our modus operandi for BAME is outdated. We need to develop a deeper understanding of the diverse society we live in and, simultaneously, recognise that the youth wing of traditional communities are in transition as identity is changing.

Finally, I am fully aware that this article could be perceived as a form of attack on the Labour Party. The truth is that I sleep, breathe and eat Labour (and go campaigning for the Party with a torn ligament) which is why I would only bring these issues to the forefront in a place like the Labour Party.

We are the only Party that actually has the ability to implement these changes and respect the communities we want to engage with.  It is down to us to win back the trust of the various BAME communities that have supported us year after year. Engaging meaningfully will not only improve our policies and our ability to represent them, it will also prevent corners of extremism and corruption emerging in parts of Britain.

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  • A Activist

    whata a BAME? it like a bam?

    • Louise

       Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic

      • Holly

        I think appearing to ‘pander’ to the different ethnic groups is part of the problem.
        The politicians should be advocating policies towards what all people want.
        Decent homes, safe communities, strong family ties, decent schools, proper policing/crime fighting, job opportunities, right down to a local post office.
        We are always trying to make out that we are ‘different’, when our aspirations for our children, our expectations, and for millions our concern about drug taking/alcohol abuse are the same.
        The politicians do not understand this and continue to separate us, playing on imaginary differences, focusing on the religion rather than the human wishes.
        IF Galloway focuses on the basics, and leaves the religion to the individual,which I doubt he will, then he would be the ‘different’ kind of politician this country needs.

  • Labour takes the BAME vote in many northern cities for granted just the same way it takes for granted white working class voters. Labour has been so obsessed with capturing the middle-ground off the Tories, and concentrating the Party’s ideas on things that will appeal to a minority of voters in swing seats, that they have done little to improve the lives of both working-class BAME people and white working class in places like Bradford West.

    The most telling result from this by-election campaign is that Labour didn’t just get beat in wards with a majority muslim population, they were trounced badly in wards with a majority non-muslim population as well! The simplistic Telegraph line of “Galloway courts the Muslim block vote” is very far from the reality, and offers nothing by way of explanation for this. If anything, Labour was the party that was relying on a block vote, expecting that through it’s network of cronies and local bigwigs from the Asian community in Bradford would it would be able to win the election. In actual fact the working-class muslim vote in Bradford is not as easily controlled as Labour had hoped for. People aren’t stupid, and whether muslim or non-muslim people are away that Labour takes their votes for granted. I feel the same may be true of white working class voters too, and as soon as candidates who are prepared to articulate their concerns seriously start to get organized and stand Labour may be in big trouble.

    At this point in time, anti-cuts and and anti-war candidates are popular with both the muslim and the non-muslim working class, and until Labour renounces it’s warmongering past and actually begins to mount an effective opposition to the Tories assault on the Welfare State then results like this will keep on happening. The only reason this sort of thing hasn’t happened in England more often is due to the incompetence of the competing groups on the Left. As soon as someone half-competent, even a clown like Galloway, shows up they trounced Labour with absolute ease. Incidentally it’s already well underway in Scotland, where Labour is looking moribund, and with Plaid Cymru electing a left-wing leader I suspect some safe Labour seats in South Wales may be lost in similar fashion in the years ahead. The Greens are chipping away Labour in various places too.

    • Graemeyh

      Actually, I hink the DT probably got it about right – much as I dont like that newspaper.

      Votes at parliamentary elections are not counted at ward level. The only way of “guessing” – and it is a “guess” – is to watch at a distance as votes are emptied out of  ballot boxes. This is made more diffiuclt by postal votes which are seperate and form a large number of votes nowadays.  It is illegal for election workers – who count the votes – to discuss their work or reveal anything about the count afterwards. All that is left in anecdotal evidence. It is clear that GG had massive support in Muslim Asian community, which lives mainly in the inner city wards. The 15,000 votes that went to other than GG must have come from somewhere! It is a fair assumption by the DT they most must have come from the other 4 wards.

      As  a Welshman (living in Yorkshire) as much as I would love to believe that Plaid will make spectacular in roads in South Wales,  no evidence for it.

  • Franheron

    This is an excellent article. The analysis not only applies to BME communities for also to indigenous communities, often living in social housing with associated poverty and lack of political power.  I have been trying to get Ken down to Euston for weeks.  It has not been missed that he has visited Hillingdon and Ealing at least once if not twice in the quest to woo the middle class assuming that his traditional voters will always be there.  The Labour party in general spent a decade wooing the middle class swing voters partly due to the archaic voting system we have.  In return for oour votes we need politicians who at least listen to our concerns.


  • LondonGirl2012

    Have you ever heard the expression “can not see the wood through the trees?” labours problem is absolutely nothing to do with BAME or people on the ground or anything like that…


    • GG certainly used the foreign policy issues as the base of his campaign – and surely it is obvious that there are issues which Labour is associated with which can easily be exploited

      1. Unclear message on future exploits in Muslim countries – could we not make it clear that invading Iraq will not be on our agenda?

      2. Remaining in Afghanistan. Does anyone honestly think it is doing any good at all? We could make it clear that we no longer support extension of this action

      3. Support for Israel. We could make our support for the Palestinians clearer – and back sanctions against Israel. They have developed nuclear weaponry illegally – do we ever hear talk of invading them? They need to move back to the 1948 boundaries, the only ones they have any justification to be present in – and until their occupation ceases, they should be treated as a pariah state

      • TomFairfax

         Hi Mike,
        1) Agree
        2) Either should be unequivical about how long we will commit to the place or leave asap. Government has chosen option that encourages the Taliban whilst limiting chances of success. Morons.
        3) Not so clear cut. Occupation by right of conquest is difficult to defend. Unfortunately Britain via Arthur Balfour are responsible for that mess. Having allowed the Zionists in , it would be hypocritical to punish their descendants for working to support British government policy. The only legitimate proposal we can make is for them to give up the 1967 gains(essentially same as yours), but we are in a very poor position to tell anyone what to do in this instance.

        • You are right on point three, but we can still support the Palestinians here and now. I still think that had Rabin not been killed (by a Zionist extremist) then he would have reached a settlement with Arafat – which is is why he was murdered. The Left in Israel seemed unable to hold their nerve and have essentially collapsed since his death

          • TomFairfax

            I don’t disagree with your assessment. Israel’s population seems to have become more extreme as the Palestinians in the occuppied territories have diverged along extremist and moderate paths.

            Hamas have more legitimacy, but I’d draw the line at supporting such an openly anti-Israeli faction. The Palestinians need a unified moderate leadership more than Israel feels the need to make concessions to even common decency towards the inhabitants of those territories.

            Without that unified leadership Israel can ignore the Palestinian cause. With it, they would be difficult to ignore again.

          • Division of the Palestinians was a deliberate policy of the Israeli government

          • Brumanuensis

            In the long run, Israel and Hamas will have to accommodate one another – that works both ways NB – as neither is going to disappear any time soon. I suspect one day we may have a Martin McGuinness/ Ian Paisley-style  team running the area, as Hamas and Likud somehow come to an understanding.

            Of course, if Hamas implode – an outcome I’d be happy to see – much the better. If Likud and Kadima do too, even more so. 

          • I’ve heard that said before

            However, I do think that UK policy should shift towards explicit support for the Palestinians

          • GuyM


            We shift policy towards a group who clearly voted for a terrorist group, who are funded by Iran and who have said that Israel has n right to exist.

            How about you get every single Arab state to make clear Israel have a right to exist first, then see where we get to?

            But of course you are the Lslamics chief cheerleader aren’t you Mike?

            Personally I hope Israel drops whatever large bombs it feels as necessary every time some murdering terorist scum attacks it.

    • GuyM

      So bombing Christian countries (Serbia) in support of muslims is fine?

      Muslims killing muslims (Iraq, Syria Lybia, Egypt, Iran etc.) is fine?

      But non Muslims at war with muslims is so bad that any UK muslim is inevitably called to support all the despotic, theocratic, autocratic, bigoted, mysogynistic scum running said countries?

      I suppose my experiences of 9/11 in New york where all totally justified by… umm err.. hang on there were no western forces fightig muslims anywhere, apart from ringing Saddam in with the support of surrounding arab states and the UN.

      So what was the justification for the Al-qaeda attacks? And should the west just have put up with it and done nothing?

      Islamic apologists make me sick, they really do. They accept all forms of bigoted, racist, homophobic medieval views from Islam and the associated killing and terrorism. But if anyone non muslim takes any action then everything is auto justified.

      The hypocrisy of the left is staggering on this issue.

      You stand and forcefully argue for women’s rights and gay rights for decades and at the same time say little of nothing about the views of ethnic minorites who vote for Labour en masse. A lot of those views based upon a religion that is at complete opposites to the freedoms you claim to hold dear.

      I wonder, when exactly was the last time that a Labour candidate or representative told the Islamic voters of Bradford that their religions views on homosexuals and women’s rights was wrong?

      • LondonGirl2012

        The Good ol US of A has been supporting the terrorist atrocities of Israel for many years, also funding terrorism by providing Israel with missile and military technology as so on. America had it coming…

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          There’s very strong evidence – some in Bin Laden’s own words – that Israel’s existence was not the cause of Al Qaeda’s decision to attack the USA on 9/11.  It was rather the presence of American soldiers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which he and others around him felt profaned Islam. If you read serious studies of Al Qaeda’s motivation, and indeed look into the Wahhabist doctrine, you will find many Muslims in Saudi Arabia are in full agreement with that. Saudi Arabia and Israel co-exist quite peacefully, but 20 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian.

          Don’t forget that for a number of years Bin Laden happily accepted US weapons in his time as a Mujahiddin fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.

          As for your final comment, I hope you never meet one of the relatives of the 2,900 killed on 9/11.  You may get a punch in the mouth, and you’d certainly get no sympathy from me.

        • GuyM

          I suspect I know exactly where you come from in the spectrum of backgrounds.

          When the day comes that arab states accept Israel’s right to exist then maybe we get somewhere, until then people like you spout nothing more than weasel words for a belief medieval belief system.

          In terms of America, push it too far and you know what you get.

          Saddam and his “mightiest Army in the arab world” lasted a few days.

          But I have sympathy with you, it must burn you up inside to know the Yanks can wipe the floor with any of the groups you support.

        • madasafish

          America had it coming…
          Frankly if you are typical – and I know you are not  – you would be an asset to any party opposing the Labour Party. 

          • Bill Lockhart

            A lot closer to typical than you might like, certainly amongst “progressive” “activists”. I had , er, “interesting” conversations with several left-liberal chatterati on the actual day of September 11, their common opinion being “f***ing Americans had it coming”.
            Never underestimate the sheer hatred which motivates a sizeable proportion of the left- real hatred involving wishing opponents dead. There are commenters on LL who display it.  Galloway personifies it. Without Israel and America to hate, he would be nothing.

  • Fred

    Nice enough piece but the author seems to take BME voters for granted as part of a Bengali political dynasty, who often parades in front of the adoring crowds in Bangladesh. Little plug that you are not criticising the party to keep in with the Victoria Street crowd. A bit silly really.

  • john_zims

    How about having an option of Sharia law for Muslim communities in the next manifesto.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      That would guarantee a Labour defeat of truly epic proportions across the whole country, apart from perhaps a few constituencies where the electorate are mostly Muslim.  In addition to getting destroyed by the other mainstream parties, the BNP would very happily take Labour votes in every constituency they stood in.

      Is that what you want?

      Perhaps you had not noticed that this is a sovereign country with one of the longest unbroken traditions of the laws being made by a democratically elected Parliament.  Perhaps you actually want to kill off the democratic tradition and replace it with a system of misogynistic, homophobic and authoritarian consensus?  Nothing would surprise me about some of the nuttier parts of the hard left. 

      Sharia law is also incompatible with the laws in Europe following a case brought against a Turkish political party that wanted to introduce it, and the two rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.  It is incompatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it restricts free speech, and Allah does not like homosexuals very much, according to those who interpret Islamic texts as they make Sharia law.

  • Philgiddyboy

    Political parties should primarily be about an ideological framework.  Voters know where such a party stands.  If a party abandons its ideological framework – perhaps to chase votes or for other reasons, then long term this is suicide.  There is a sense of betrayal – and this isn’t easily forgiven.  Think about the libdems and tuition fees.  After promising lots of things they did a u-turn.  Its not the tuition fees per se, it is the betrayal that has caused anger. 

    Do Labour stand for anything anymore?  I can’t see it.  Labour seems to simply exist as a mouthpiece for making promises that only the gullible believe it can fulfill.  Ideologically Labour are nowhere and as time passes what used to be the core vote disintegrates.

    All political parties chase votes.  However to chase votes to the detriment of ideology and core voters, well in the long term there is only one end.

  • Graemeyh

    Although not a Labour party member for some years, living in the neighbouring consituency  I volunteered to help yesterday for several hours in Allerton and Clayton ward (semi rural ward on edge of Bradford West). The response on the doorstep was fairly positive and I did not have the sense that Galloway was going to run away with it – which he obviously did!  I did sense that in that particular ward turn out might be low and that it might be a close run thing.

    I was dismayed, though, at what I heard from some Asian voters on the door step –  that the Labour candidate was  “a drunkard”, and  “bad muslim”  amongst other things.  Obviously, I cannot varify these claims but did my best to refute them.  Perhaps I was naive in assuming that BAME’s were models of liberal democracy and decorum, as I also picked up some anti-semitic, homophobic and racist sentiments – which  surprised me, as I  associate such views with the BNP.

    There seems to have been a very heavy turnout in wards with a large Asian vote and a much lower turnout in other wards.  Clearly  GG had galvanised the Asian vote and they flocked to vote for him.  I did not sense that there was much appeal in GG or Respect for traditional working or lower mddle class Labour voters. But the Labour candidate – indeed no candidate –  do not  inspire them to come out in any force whatsoever to vote.  It would be interesting to know the percentages but I would guess that
    70% of  voters in predominanly Asian wards came out to vote and most  voted for GG. In the other wards I think turnout might have been as low as
    30% and here I think Labour might have fared reasonably ok. But
    obviously the former vastly  swamped the latter.

    I don’t think that Labour really takes the BAME vote for granted. That was just one of the things that Respect claimed in order to portray Labour as “out of touch” and itself as the “party of the (local) people”.  I would suggest the people of Bradford West are going to discover the reality and the rhetoric rather different, as did the people of Bethnal Green and Bow on that one. That was not the reason Labour lost Bradford West. 
    It has nothing to do with Ed Milliband either. The Archangel Gabriel could have led the Labour party and the result would have been the same! 

    Labour was not prepared for the fast bowling, aggressive whirlwind that was the  GG campaign.  How one mitigates against cynical manipulation and “dog whistle” politics I really do not know.  But the Labour candidate (and team) needs to be as feisty, streetwise, experienced and tough as GG and Respect  – prepared to take them on and challenge at every turn – rather than the young and gentlemanly candidate Labour had in Mr Hussain.

    Just my obeservations, for what they’re worth.

    • derek

      Far be it for me to question one who was led by the archangel Gabriel but didn’t the parables consist of choice and direction and isn’t winning hearts and minds about having a vision to deliver.

      • Graemeyh

        Oh Lord. A sarcastic troll trying to be clever. I hadnt forgotten about these!

        I do not claim to be “one who was led by the Archangel Gabriel” What I wrote  was “The Archangel Gabriel could have led the Labour party and the result would have been the same!” 

        Parables are a type of comparison, illustration, analogy in prose form. Parables are usually associated with Jesus. No parables are attributed to Gabriel.  It might indeed be argued that some of them are  about choice and direction.  GG was not about winning hearts and minds but cynical  manipulation. There is a difference.

        • derek

          Jobs, housing, investment in the high street, protecting the vulnerable, protecting the unemployed as they seek work, pleased if one could stipulate the manipulation there?

          • Graemeyh

            I think all parties were supporting those objectives. Who wouldnt?

            Whether you accept it or not, what I believe I observed was  manipulation and it was cynical.   That people were so easily taken in by it – as you seem to be – was frankly depressing.

            But there we go.  Believe it; Dont believe it.  Agree with me; Dont agree with me.

            But I was there.

            Lets agree to differ.

          • derek

            I’m not sure the ConDems were being honest if they said they supported those initiatives. 

            Only 4 out of every 10 voters gave their vote to one of the three main party’s? Respect must have picked up votes in all the wards.

            Yeah! agree to differ it is then.

          • Graemeyh

            Indeed. Interestingly Bradford West will be joined to Shipley in the boundary review (minus the inner city wards). Shipley constituency – where I live – has a very large tory majority. Our MP is on on the far right of the tory party. Now that would be an interesting fight – GG v Philip Davies!

          • Graemeyh

            I think all parties were supporting those objectives. Who wouldnt?

            Whether you accept it or not, what I believe I observed was  manipulation and it was cynical.   That people were so easily taken in by it – as you seem to be – was frankly depressing.

            But there we go.  Believe it; Dont believe it.  Agree with me; Dont agree with me.

            But I was there.

            Lets agree to differ.

  • Graemeyh

     Electoral suicide.

    •  Salma Yaqoob has claimed that in Clayton ward, which is an overwhelmingly white area as is Allerton, Respect won 900 votes whereas Labour won 40.

      If so then that’s an absolute disaster. Does that result tally with your experiences on the doorstep?

      • Graemeyh

        I wouldnt know and doubt she would either.

        Votes are not counted at a ward level. It is possible  to make a very rough guess as a ballot box is emptied onto the table  but observers have to stand at some distance.  Postal votes account for a large number of votes and one can only guess the total. So unless she is endowed with superhuman abilities I think she is “over egging the pudding”! She could be referring to the tallies that party tellers take at polling stations take which they then try to match up to lists that they have of voters intentions. They are extraordinarily inaccurate.  It doesnt tally with my experience on the doorstep but that doesnt mean  much as one is relying on people being honest about how they voted/intend to vote.  I hardly saw a Galloway poster in that ward – plenty in City, Toller and Mannigham though. But a margin of 24 to 1 in this ward when final vote was something like 2 to 1 feels far fetched. If Hussain won just 40 votes in Clayton/Allerton he would have to have scored brilliantly in other wards to secure his final vote of  8201 (poor as that was). 

        I am not in any way saying this was a good result for Labour. Self evidently it was awful. But Galloways support was coming massively from the Asian community. Perhaps there is  a desire now to create a narrative that everyone loves and voted for George – Asian, black, white, working class, middle class, left leaning, conservative, liberal.  But as well as he did with his 18000+ votes,  15000 people voted for other candidates. One can’t have it always.

        • treborc

          I have no doubt if I was in Bradford I would have voted Galloway, the simple reason, I’ve not heard Galloway state  he’s fighting for the squeezed middle class.

      • A majority the size of Galloway’s wouldn’t have been achieved without significant support from across the whole constituency.

      • Maybe that’s true and it could also of course be bullshit. If Galloway is so confident of his wide appeal why does he always stand for election where there is a high proportion of Muslims?

    • JoeDM

       “…as I also picked up some anti-semitic, homophobic and racist sentiments –
      which surprised me, as I associate such views with the BNP.”


      Such neo-fascist views have strong support in many ethnically concentrated and strongly islamic  inner-city areas !!!!

    • “Perhaps I was naive in assuming that BAME’s were models of liberal democracy …”

      I’m afraid you have been incredibly naive comrade. If the post mortem concludes “cultural” issues have been ignored we need to be careful what remedy we propose for this. When far right parties have done well we do not (or should not) start copying them so we should not start planting socially conservative BAME candidates where we feel they might get a sympathetic ear. 

  • James3010

    I fear the problem isn’t just Labours its the main political parties in general and it has been growing for some time, revelations about expenses cash for dinner dates  pilgrims etc etc have just reinforced the common attitude that the political class has become exactly that, a separate class. The upper echelons of all three main parties are the same, they may call themselves Lab Tory Lib but they are all careerist politicos none of who have ever really worked or lived outside the bubble of politics. Google the cabinet and shadow cabinet and if you didnt have the name at the top i’d bet most would not know whose CV they were reading. 
    Whats the solution? call me old fashioned but i think we should revive the democratic process, allow local parties to select candidates free from central control, local politicians representing local people. It’s a thought and might be the jolt to the heart politics needs in this country, the future might just be going back to the past.

  • TomFairfax

    I liked the spin in the news.

    ‘GC won because he was charismatic and had a clear message.’

    So the solution and lessons seem rather obvious. Apparatchiks out, genuine candidates who will fight for their constituents and express their views in doing so, in.

    The biggest problem Labour face is that by kicking Left wingers like Galloway and Nellist out is that no one believes they are a left wing party.

    Unpalatable as it may seem, you have to have a few people like that, even as a minority, to enable people to feel they aren’t just voting for wannabee Tories.

    I think Ed is gradually developing the message, but the candidate issue has to be dealt with.  The narrowness in candidate backgrounds currently is a weakness, not a strength.

    • treborc

       keeping on telling everyone that labour supports the middle class, labour is the party of the hard working ,when people cannot find jobs, maybe the Muslim did vote for Galloway because he is anti war,  and maybe a lot of Labour working class decide it’s not worth voting for a middle class labour party.

      Labour the party of the squeezed middle.

      • TomFairfax

        It is certainly a problem to focus so much on one group and hope the core vote will not desert when clearly alternative options are appearing.

        I think the Greens, Plaid, and the SNP have been and still are clearly benefitting as well as GG.

  • Alexander Rubio

    Looking at the Bradford West debacle from a non-UK perspective, from more of a bird’s eye perspective in some ways, actually doesn’t make it seem smaller, or parochial, but rather symbolic of the larger crisis of the modern Left in the West.

    For reasons both ideological and historical, the left fell into the role of vocal defenders of immigration, even when that immigration was driven by the economic interests of the right, and the negative consequences of that immigration disproportionately impacted their traditional working class constituencies.

    For a while the pretence could be maintained, that socialdemocrat policy could square the circle of uniting the old and new through a shared class identity. But the sad fact is that most often, even in the best of circumstances, ethnicity and faith trumps class, and reduces politics to them and us, not right and left.

    This fracture line cracked ever wider as the activist core, and not least the leadership, of the party became ever more academic, middle class (in culture, if not income), and removed from the asphalt-root level of both groups. The party cadres became less and less representative of either constituency, and commanded ever less automatic loyalty.

    We have now reached the point where it has become almost impossible to please both wings of voters. And like a fellow with one foot keyside and one on the boat slowly drifting away from shore, one ends up with split pants and a splash trying to do it.

    Can a solution be found? For the immediate future and the next election, perhaps. But can the fundamental circle be squared to create a lasting basis for a stable political majority? I don’t know. It would probably take an ideological breakthrough of real genius.

  • Franwhi

    Tariq – I read your piece about Labour and the BAME vote and can categorically link it to the relationship between Labour and the Scottish urban vote.  We have gone through the same process of disengagement and disaffection with a political party we used to support and love which ostensibly claims to represent our needs and aspirations yet consistently fails to respond to our needs. We in Scotland didn’t abandon Labour but in some crucial way Labour abandoned us and now the political pathway is clear for in our case SNP and in your case George Galloway.     

    • Jimbennett

      Absolutely bang on the nail Franwhi!

  • mikestallard

    Labour stands for a rationalist approach to politics. It is a class movement, warmly supported by the working class through the elected officials of the Trades Union movement. It is a “broad church” which welcomes everyone into its ranks as it marches forward to a more equal, fairer future together.

    Islam is a response to God (Allah)’s word through his Messenger, the prophet Mohammed, in the years 610-632 a.d. in Mecca and Medina. The aim is to bring about heaven on earth by following the right path.

    George Galloway, with all his postal votes, spotted this. You didn’t.


  • Mike Barnes

    Newsflash, it’s not just BAME you take for granted. It’s EVERYBODY in the north.

    I’m white but I’d be voting for RESPECT too if they ever ran a candidate in my constituency.

  • Moe

    What’s everyone so worked up about?  Politics is full of oddities and one-offs.  So Galloway won in a seat with a high Asian population by saying things he’d calculated they wanted to hear, no matter how remote the prospects of his achieving anything for the voters he’d courted.  No big surprise and no big worry.  He did the same in London and got…nowhere.

    I think the unarticulated fear is that cheap promises might trump party loyalties.  No they won’t, at least not on a scale that matters.  (And it is a bit rich for any of the big three parties to moan about empty promises and cynical trimming to meet local interests – that’s the Lib Dems’ entire campaign playbook, and is used by Labour quite enough too.)

  • john Reid

    When alot of BME people came here from The Commonwealth, from jobs after the War, they had families, were mainly christian and almost all working class ,prepared to do manual jobs  , the idea was that by working class you rented A council home and were in A union , meant that labour took the working class vote for granted Even when the tories won An election in 1959 with ‘you’vve never had itso good’ and gaitskell was trying to appeal to the midde class, there hasn’t been a BMe vote even by the late 80’s when the tories were still describing the riots as not due poverty, supported no change in police practices and supported apartied, And Muslim aren’t A race they follow A religion, But i here Ken now still saying he’s got the Irish Catholic vote and the muslim one, tell that to Baroness varsi.

  • robertcp

    I find articles about BAME communities patronising.   Labour should be the party of ordinary people whatever their skin colour or religion.   

  • a dirty joke

    The truth is that David Cameron and his party could win the 2015 election without Bradford West or without much if any muslim support  in the UK like it or not the truth hurts.  There is no reason to assume the muslim vote will ever be essential.  The reason the muslim vote  impact gets over estimated is because illegal immigrants/failed assylum seekers are very often muslim and illegel immigrants/ failed assylum seekers have no right to even be in this country let alone impose a goverment.  Thats why so many muslims cover their faces its to hide from the UKborder force immigration enforcement units.    If any muslims have any problem with comment call me on my mobile  07944 831199 or 07792 611663

    • What a silly post.

      Constituencies such as Wycombe, Dewsbury, and Pendle clearly have Tory Muslim voters who made up their Tory MP’s majorities

      • GuyM

        I don’t think the muslim vote is of particular interest to the Tories, nor any other ethnic minority. They are treated as UK voters and nothing more.

        It’s only Labour who kowtows to ethnic minority pressure groups and “community leaders”.

        The day a Tory leader suggested limited sharia rights or the like would be the day he/she had a leadership challenge started up.

        • Actually, I don’t agree,

          What tends to happen is there is often a link formed between the dominant party in the area and the Asian community – remember I come from High Wycombe, a predominantly Conservative town which had, I recall, a very active Anglo-Asian Conservative Society, led by the first Asian councillor in the town, Conservative Cllr Mohammad Razzaq.

          When I lived in Huddersfield, a strongly Asian ward with a Labour councillor who was, frankly, a racist, turfed him out and for two elections running returned Liberal Democrats. There was very clearly a major shift of votes. 

          Have a look at recent results for the Dewsbury South ward in Kirklees. The home of Baroness Warsi

          Conservatives are just as capable of getting involved in a marginal area to win Asian votes!

          I can’t recall a Labour leader ever proposing sharia rights either.

          • treborc

            Sharia rights or courts.

  • Martin Yuille

    What’s all this “BAME” business? 

    I find it disrespectful. 

    We don’t talk about the “WhiM” vote do we? 

    I’m half-Jewish, half Scottish. Am I a “JeM” voter or a “ScoM” voter?

    Let’s not invent abbreviations like this. If we want to say “black and minority ethnic” voters then let’s spell it out.  Every time.

    Personally I know no-one who wants to be called a “black and minority ethnic” person.  So why should Labour invent such a label for people?

  • john Reid

    I was trying to compare the dozen times Campaign organisers have prejudged BAME voters to be Labour ones and then see if Laobur does the same with the Working class,
    Obivously Labour sends out Letters to people they feel Are BAME warning them about the possibility of English Democrats or UKIP,who they consider to be (wrongly)racist, Would we checkout A list of People who live in council homes or by asking Our union chums if they can supply the Addresses of their members to US ,so we can send out leaflets saying “the Tories are anti Trade Unions’ they make the rich ‘richer’ Vote for us instead,
    Or In the Past we’ve signalled Out BAME voters reminded them that Labour had A good record on Equality in the past and suggested the Tories hadn’t, But then we’ve Looked on Lists of People who own COuncil homes assumed they vote labour too and said the toires let council home areas get run down.
      Of course we’ve descirbled the Muslim and Catholic vote and the BAME vote for, trying to decide how we can decide what literature to send by the sort of media they may read, (less likely to put An advert in the Sun saying ‘we cahnged the Abortion laws iN England so A women doens’t have to see A psychatrist now) this is A Narrow Assumption but some of the ones we made at the aslt election were “We assume All Black people still vote Labour as they recall the Toriers oF enoch powell and are bigotted) or words to that effect, Lastly I recall Knocking On black peoples doors they weren’t in And the paid organiser said “they’re Black they’re not in I’ll assume they vote Labour” Would we ever knok on the door OF a known trade unioist In A council home ,In A working class area, tehy weren’t and Assume that becuase of this that they automatically voted Labour.

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