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Eyes Left Banking on bigotry and the two-horse race

Starmer’s Labour is dog-whistling so loud it’s deafening, safe in the knowledge the minority communities being slighted by these affronts largely have nowhere else to turn. Remember these betrayals, writes ANDREW MURRAY

PERHAPS it is not surprising that the general election campaign has so far mainly been about racism.

There is no reason to think that Britain, simply because it has left the EU, is immune to the trends reflected in the elections to the EU parliament, which registered the growth of right and far-right forces.

Here, the two major parties are locked in an inane contest in which neither can actually articulate how they differ from the other. It is democracy degraded to slideshow presentations to win a management contract.

So unsurprisingly other issues intrude one way or another. One is clearly Gaza, which finds its sharpest expression in the campaigns of various independents and left candidates around the country.

It is not perhaps the full political articulation the mass movement of the last eight months deserves, but it is clearly a building block for the future and all that could be achieved in the time, as it turned out.

The other has been the raw racism of the Establishment parties. Consider:

Labour’s campaign kicked off by trying to hound Britain’s first black woman MP out of Parliament, and by axing the candidacy of a charismatic working-class Muslim woman who probably even the party of Tony Blair would have somehow found room for.

If you think that was accidental, I have a bridge you might be interested in. Labour campaign supremo Morgan McSweeney knows which pack of dogs he is whistling at.

He wants to win over natural Tory voters, some of who hold deeply prejudiced views. Picking a fight with prominent black women fits the bill perfectly.

Of course, Labour might lose votes from Muslim and black communities as a consequence. But here’s the dynamic. In most cases those voters will have no-one else to support, and in no cases will they cross over to the Tories.

Gains from reactionary voters on the other hand are not only an addition to Labour’s column but a subtraction from the Conservatives.

So, the McSweeney logic goes — keep on whistling. The campaign chief may misjudge — he presumably did not pick a fight with Diane Abbott purely in order to lose it; and perhaps one or two shadow cabinet members may pay the price of antagonising black and Asian communities. But it will not much affect getting Keir Starmer into Downing Street.

Seven Labour councillors in Slough quit, calling out the party’s “institutional racism,” in the form of Islamophobia. Faiza Shaheen echoed the point in relation to her own treatment. That charge ought to be political poison, particularly for a party that preens itself as the progressive option.

However, Labour has hardly missed a beat. The media that thundered over real and imagined anti-semitism has fallen silent. The racist seeds it is busy sowing will yield their bitter fruit another season.

Then there is the Farage factor. Reform’s owner has declared himself its leader once more, exercising bourgeois property rights as he is entitled to. The effect is to tug the campaign further to the right.

For example, everyone condemned Rishi Sunak for skipping some of the D-Day commemorations in France.

But only Farage said it showed that Sunak lacked “patriotism” and did not understand British traditions and culture. It’s not even subtle, when directed at the country’s first ethnic minority prime minister.

So those dogs have a choice of whistles, and Farage’s seems as loud as McSweeney’s. He has the additional cover of the warm support of Suella Braverman, the fascist-lite former home secretary, herself with a migrant background and angling already for the succession to Sunak.

None of this lets Sunak off the hook either. His campaign seems to be largely funded by a donor who even the Prime Minister concedes made racist remarks with his reported view that Abbott “makes me hate all black women” and should therefore be shot.

And that’s not all. Further revelations have followed, regarding Muslims and Chinese people. Frank Hester’s average working day seems to consist of insulting some minority or other and then cutting a fat cheque for the Tory Party.

£15 million and counting, and nary a blush from the Tory Party busy printing tainted leaflets, booking tainted adverts and organising tainted polling with this very tainted cash.

None of this is new of course, although Labour’s flirting with racist optics represents a somewhat startling regression.

But it speaks to one thing above all — the utter failure of progressive liberalism to eliminate racial prejudice from our society and politics and, indeed, its willingness to connive in it whenever advantage beckons.

That is important in itself, but it also signifies the redundancy of the “post-socialist” left which, having embraced so much of the elite agenda at home and abroad, was left only with its purported commitment to racial, sex and sexuality equality as its radical calling card.

Now Starmer and McSweeney are happy to discard that too. It is unsurprising that most of the candidates outspoken in resisting the rush to racism are drawn from the ranks of black people themselves, with Muslim women in the van, be they independent or Labour.

That at least ensures that racism will meet articulate opposition. When the votes are in, Labour may move to try to repair ruptured relations with black communities. Their view and, for what it is worth, mine? Never forget.

Brighton betrayal: something stinks

Among the victims of the Starmer-McSweeney pre-poll purge was Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who is not black but is a gay man who has served his Brighton constituents admirably since his election in 2017.

When he was ousted by bureaucratic fiat, I immediately thought of a conversation I had in the Commons a couple of months back with another MP, who had recently emerged from the prolonged purgatory of a Labour disciplinary inquiry and was scathing about the party’s procedures and safeguards.

My interlocutor, who is in the centre rather than the left of the party, told me this: “If you want to screw up an MP, all you have to do is submit a complaint against him or her just before an election. The result will be immediate suspension and loss of seat, whatever the merits of the complaint.”

So it has come to pass in Brighton Kemptown. I have no knowledge of the complaint against Russell-Moyle, nor whether it is well-founded or not.

But we do know three things: first, the complaint relates to events years ago, and has apparently previously been investigated, without sanction by the party. He calls its re-emergence “vexatious.”

Second, Russell-Moyle has lost his job, despite a very large number of his local party and constituents wanting him to keep it.

Third, the beneficiary of this saga is Starmerite apparat-man Chris Ward who, according to his friend Owen Jones, had always wanted above all to be a Labour MP in Brighton. Russell-Moyle had barely been bundled off the field of battle before Ward was parachuted into the middle of it.

Is there a conspiracy here? Not necessarily. But I thought of the foresight of my centre-ground MP friend. He was surely on to something.


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