Friday the 25th June was the last opportunity for candidates in the Batley and Spen by-election to canvass at Friday prayers before voting day the following Thursday, 1st July.
Both George Galloway (The Workers Party) and Kim Leadbeater (Labour Party) made for the Madina Mosque in the Purlwell Lane area of Batley, one of a couple of dozen Muslim places of worship in the small Yorkshire town.
Although Galloway was noticeably glad handling worshippers close to the building, Leadbeater, as a female, wasn’t allowed into Friday prayers and stood some distance away on the corner of Great Wood Street. There, outside the Heavy Woollen Scout District Activity Centre, she was surrounded by campaign workers and soy boy London fake alternative news reporters from the likes of Byline and Joe.co.uk
Despite her low profile, Leadbeater was spotted, approached and harangued. An uncomfortable looking Miss Leadbeater was questioned aggressively about the disputed Indian subcontinent province of Kashmir.
Unfortunately for the hapless left-wing candidate, the obvious position on Kashmir, “I don’t care, get lost,” is not available to the Labour Party because of their reliance upon immigrant block votes.
If Labour takes the Pakistani position on Kashmir they will lose the Indian immigrant vote, if they take the Indian side they will lose the Pakistani one. If they don’t take a position, they’ll lose both. Recently, Starmer has leant towards India, infuriating Pakistanis. More recently, Sir Kier caused disquiet within the same community by pulling out of an ‘Iftar’ event with Ramadan Tent Project CEO Omar Salha, following concern over Salha’a social media posts.
Although English observers refer to the Muslim population of the northern mill towns as ‘Pakistanis’ (oft times in its abbreviated form), it would be more accurate to call them ‘Kashmiris’ and more accurate still to call them ‘Mirpuri’.
Mirpur district is part of Azad Kashmir, the Pakistani administered side of the nominally self-governing Kashmir, which lies on the northern borders of Pakistan and India and the southwestern border of China.
In Volume 7, Number 1 of South Asia Research, academic Ramindar Singh informs us as to why there are so many Mirpuri in places like Batley.
There was a good deal of spare capacity in these industries which required cheap labour to utilise in a commercially profitable manner. Within the textile industry some restructuring was taking place [in the mid-sixties] as well. New investment was being made, but a maximum level of cheap, relatively low-skilled labour was locally available to intensify the labour process through shift work, weekend work, or long hours of work. Immigrants from the South Asian countries i.e India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, met these requirements more appropriately than local labour, which was not only in short supply, but had high expectations in terms of wages and conditions of service.
In other words, large numbers of workers were brought in from Northern Pakistan, as previously with Windrush and subsequently with EU freedom of movement, to cut British wages and lower the standard of working conditions.
Ominously, Mr Singh goes on to remind us,
A very large number of people came as part of the ‘chain migration’ phenomenon, to join their families, friends and relatives.
In the modern-day, large numbers of Mirpuri take advantage of the British benefits system and free public services for part of the year and live in Kashmir for the rest. In an article on the BBC website, Aleem Maqbool informs us that Mirpur City is known as ‘Little England’ with British goods in the shops and the pound sterling being used as the local currency.
Back in Batley, the post-Friday prayers ambush on Kim Leadbeater was being led by Shakeel Afsar who challenged the would-be MP about Labour’s positions on Kashmir and LGBT.
Although labelled by the soy boy London fake alternative news media as being ‘anti-gay rights’, Asfar (as further proof that it’s just as difficult to be wrong all of the time as right all of the time), campaigns (rightly) against young children being forced to see LGBT material in schools.
Previously, Asfar joined a protest at Anderton Park School, Birmingham, where his sister has two children. During which, he had a chance to point and shout at local MP and silly grammar school posh girl with a fake Brummy accent, Jess Philips.
As an aside, when Puffins visit Pakistan and sup chai over pastries on the wide, tree-lined boulevards of Karachi, do not be surprised if your cosmopolitan Sindhi host leans over and whispers, “Pakistan is full of nuclear scientists, engineers and brain surgeons, why do you take the junglees from Mirpur? Can’t see the point, Babuji Puffin, old boy.”
Likewise, when ladies in the lounge car of the Khyber Mail, swooning over your blue eyes and pale skin, tell you they’re from Rawalpindi or Islamabad what they really mean is Mirpur City, as per Birkenhead girls calling home ‘the Wirral’.
Also canvassing with Kim Leadbeater was the horrid Naseem Shah MP, who took George Galloway’s Bradford West Respect Party seat from him in the 2015 general election. Interrupting the shouting match, Bradford Mirpuri Kashmiri Ms Shah, challenged Mr Asfar for not being local.
Leadbetter countered by reading from the Ambushed Candidate Textbook asking, “Why are you yelling at me?” In doing so, making herself appear to be a victim and making the yeller seem unreasonable. After self-describing herself as an “Innocent woman who has put herself forward for public life”, she gave up and made a dash for her car which was parked nearby on double yellow lines. Upon close inspection, lots of cars were parked on double yellow lines. Surely there isn’t a different rule for Friday prayer parkers than for the rest of us?
As for Naseem Shah MP, where to start? Born in Bradford in 1973, Ms Shah spent her childhood in Pakistan where she was forced to marry when only fifteen years old. Upon returning to Bradford, her mother was jailed for fourteen years in 2000 for poisoning to death a local drugs dealer.
In the interest of harmony between communities, Naseem endorsed a Facebook post suggesting the Jews be removed from Israel. Her Tweets include telling British girls raped by Pakistani gangs to shut up in the interests of multiculturalism and #ApartheidIsrael “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
Ludicrously, between 2018 and 2020 Ms Shah was Shadow Minister of State for Women and Equalities. Equally ludicrously, she is the current Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion.
On the theme of embarrassing tweets, special mention goes to Green candidate Ross Peltier. Puffins will be disappointed to hear that Rugby League player Mr Peltier’s racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic contributions to social media are too vile to include in a by-election bloodbath battle column. Added to which, Mr Ross’ advice to Pope Benedict XVI cannot be understood without access to a paediatric medicine encyclopaedia.
Peltier was forced to stand down after his tweets were made public, leaving the Greens without a candidate. However, he stood in May’s local elections, receiving 419 votes in Kirklees’ Birstall and Birkenshaw ward, a disappointing seventh out of eight candidates.
After the confrontation with Kim Leadbeater, Asfas made his way down to the mosque and stood on a wall yelling while Ms Shah stood below him giving out election leaflets. Controversy has surrounded communications during the by-election. Labour leaflets showing Kier Starmer taking the knee, supporting Black Lives Matter and captioned “Fighting White Privilege” are said to be fake.
Before you build your hopes up, Labour Party leaflets devoted to Kashmir, Palestine and ‘Islamophobia’ are genuine as is one claiming Mr Johnston can’t be trusted solely because he is pictured standing next to Indian premier Mr Modi.
Mr Galloway, Ms Leadbetter, Ms Shah, Mr Asfar and all the election communications have so far omitted to mention the Batley Grammar Schoolmaster in hiding because of death threats following his showing of cartoons in class.
At the end of Friday’s campaigning, Leadbeater gave an interview to Byline TV in which she claimed it had been a difficult day and that during the kerfuffle, George Galloway had been standing on the opposite side of the road laughing at her. This is untrue, other witnesses say no such thing happened and reference to Google Maps and various video feeds shows Galloway on the same side of the road, thirty yards away at the entrance to the mosque, surrounded by people.
As for the right-wing parties, the following day there was a protest labelled by mainstream media as being ‘anti-muslim’ with a counter-demonstration labelled by mainstream media as being ‘anti-racist’. The ‘anti-racist’ gathering included Free Palestine T-shirts, clenched fists, covered faces, Palestinian flags, Communist flags and mass-produced Socialist Worker placards.
It also included a long banner proclaiming, “From the Pennines to the sea, we’ll keep Yorkshire fascist-free”. This is a reference to the chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” The river being the Jordan and the sea being the Mediterranean, it is a racist and anti-Semitic chant suggesting, former Shadow Equalities Minister Naz Shah style, that the Jews be removed from Israel.
All very depressing.
On a lighter note, on Thursday 1st July, Labour will not win and neither will George Galloway’s Workers Party. At the time of writing the odds are, via oddschecker, Tories 1/5 on, Labour 7/2 against with The Workers party shortening to 8/1.
The Muslim Council of Britain estimates Batley and Spen is one of the country’s top 15 high impact Muslim seats and that 8600 Muslims will vote on Thursday. For once, this will not help Labour.
Labour are unpopular on all fronts. Their Muslim vote will be shared with Galloway. A very good night for the Tories will see them hoover up both Woollen Mill Independent voters (6400 in 2019) and disillusioned white working-class Labour supporters. A miserable night for Labour will see them squeezed from all directions but still finish ahead of Galloway (just), whose bombastic foreign policy rhetoric has little appeal to native British voters.
The big unknown is Labour’s usually well-organised block postal vote. Can the comrades pull a last-minute surprise out of the ballot box, possibly with the help of overseas voters in Mirpur who have no idea what they’re voting for?
AWS’s Batley and Spen by-election prediction:
Turnout 37122 (46%)
Tories 19501 (52%)
Labour 7805 (21%)
Workers 6500 (17%)
Others 3316 ( 9%)
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