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Gaza independents seize Labour seats

SOLIDARITY with Palestine received a powerful parliamentary boost with the election of four pro-Gaza independents to the Commons at the expense of Labour.

In a development that exceeded expectations and was not picked up by national opinion polls, rage at Labour’s complicity in the Gaza genocide not only elected four MPs but was narrowly missed in several other constituencies.

The most dramatic result was in Leicester South, where Shockat Adam defeated shadow cabinet member Jonathan Ashworth by about 1,000 votes. 

Mr Ashworth had been caught on audio before the 2019 general election saying voters did not like Jeremy Corbyn.

In Blackburn, Adnan Hussein ousted Labour’s Kate Hollern by 132 votes. Mr Hussein was backed by the substantial group of Blackburn councillors who left Labour over the Gaza crisis.

His margin of victory would doubtless have been larger had the seat not also been contested by former British ambassador Craig Murray on behalf of the Workers Party.  He secured over 7,000 votes.

Iqbal Mohamed won Dewsbury and Batley by nearly 7,000 votes, ending the parliamentary hopes of Labour’s Heather Iqbal, a former adviser to incoming Chancellor Rachel Reeves.

And in Birmingham Perry Barr, Ayoub Khan ousted long-standing Labour MP Khalid Mahmood.

Several other Labour MPs in Birmingham only hung on by the skin of their teeth. Akhmed Yakoob fell short of unseating shadow cabinet member Shabana Mahmood, not assisted by the revelation of misogynistic remarks he made on a podcast.

In two further Birmingham seats, Workers Party candidates James Giles and Jody McIntyre narrowly failed to defeat Labour.

The most striking near-miss was in Ilford North, where Leanne Mohamad, a charismatic 23-year-old British-Palestinian, came within 500 votes of defeating leading Labour rightwinger and likely incoming health secretary Wes Streeting.

In Holborn and St Pancras, Andrew Feinstein, a former South African MP running as a pro-Gaza independent, secured 7,300 votes against Sir Keir Starmer, whose personal vote fell in half from 2019.

Mr Feinstein said: “We have given hope to many in our community and many more across the UK. It is incredible how well we did. Our result symbolises the hope they need.

“We have created a brilliant grassroots campaign — a platform to build local community organisations and a national movement to continue the work we have started.”

George Galloway’s long parliamentary career came to an end with the narrow loss of the Rochdale seat he won on a pro-Palestine platform in a by-election in February. 

He had been targeted in an unscrupulous campaign by Hope Not Hate, an ostensibly anti-fascist group closely aligned with Labour’s right wing.

The four victors will, of course, join Jeremy Corbyn in the Commons, another independent who is strongly pro-Palestinian, although his re-election was something of a special case and drew on a wider range of factors. 

Taken overall, the group of five will outnumber the Reform and Green Party parliamentary caucuses, and will speak for millions across the country alienated by Mr Starmer’s backing for Israel.

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