United Kingdom

Muslim backlash leaves Keir Starmer facing new Red Wall humiliation

Sir Keir Starmer is heading for a by-election defeat that could end his leadership amid claims his tough stance on antisemitism has cost him the trust of Muslim voters.

He faces a bitter backlash from Muslim communities in Labour-held Batley and Spen, with even his wife Victoria's Jewish heritage apparently being cited as one reason not to vote Labour.

Starmer loyalists last night hit back at what they said were 'repellent and repugnant' attempts to draw Mrs Starmer into the West Yorkshire by-election battle, where polls have put the Tories on course to snatch the Red Wall seat.

But campaigners for pro-Palestinian campaigner and Workers Party candidate George Galloway, who claims that 'I'm in the lead here', insist the issue is coming up 'on the doorstep and on the street'.

Sir Keir Starmer is heading for a by-election defeat that could end his leadership amid claims his tough stance on antisemitism has cost him the trust of Muslim voters

But campaigners for pro-Palestinian campaigner and Workers Party candidate George Galloway (pictured in March), who claims that 'I'm in the lead here', insist the issue is coming up 'on the doorstep and on the street'

A spokesman for Mr Galloway said 'a few people' had mentioned Mrs Starmer's religion but stressed the party always reacted by reminding voters 'we must be tolerant of everybody's beliefs'.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Muslim voters vented their anger at what they claimed was the Labour leader's failure to speak up for Palestinians in Gaza being bombed by the Israelis.

The by-election in Batley, where Labour has a slim 3,525 majority, comes amid mounting concerns that Sir Keir will face a leadership challenge if he loses so soon after the Hartlepool by-election defeat.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner denied she was preparing a challenge. Left-wing MPs angry at Sir Keir's treatment of his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, are said to favour Brent MP Dawn Butler.

Party insiders conceded that last week's shock victory for the Liberal Democrats in Tory-held Chesham and Amersham also raised the stakes for Sir Keir.

One said: 'If the Lib Dems can take a Tory seat down South and we can't hold one of our own up North, it could be a knockout blow for Keir.'

He faces a bitter backlash from Muslim communities in Labour-held Batley and Spen, with even his wife Victoria's (pictured together in May) Jewish heritage apparently being cited as one reason not to vote Labour

Labour MPs privately conceded that Mr Galloway was eating into the Labour Muslim vote, which makes up about 20 per cent of the constituency electorate.

Sir Keir put rooting out antisemitism at the heart of his leadership – a drive that has led to Mr Corbyn being suspended as a Labour MP for querying the scale of anti-Jewish sentiment in the party.

Last night, Mr Galloway said no voter had raised the issue of Mrs Starmer's background with him in Batley and Spen, adding: 'It's hard enough to get someone to give a toss about Keir Starmer, never mind about his wife.'

Batley Labour member Ali Arshad, 44, who runs a bed manufacturing firm, claimed Labour had 'taken us for granted for too long'.

He added: 'Keir Starmer has not spoken up for the Palestinian people in the recent war. Why didn't he speak up for the Palestinian people who were bombed?'

Retired local council official Hasan Badat, 58, said: 'I've been a Labour supporter all my life, but I will not be voting for them this time, as they have not given me the slightest reason to vote for them.'

A Labour spokesman said last night Sir Keir had spoken up for an independent Palestine and the rights of Palestinians, including at Prime Minister's Questions.

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