A win is a win, but clear lessons on Gaza from the UK election

Jul 10, 2024

The British Labour Party (BLP) won 32% of the vote but with First Past the Post voting it won 62% of the seats. That was the biggest gap on record between votes won and the number of seats.

If the UK had preferential voting as we have, the result would have been much closer.

The BLP increased its vote by only 2% and received a total vote lower than the Jeremy Corbyn-led BLP in 2017 and 2019.

Starmer also had a poor result in his own electorate.

Like Albanese, Starmer was wedged on AUKUS and supports this absurdity.

Voters in both the UK and Australia are turning away from the tired old two party system.

One striking feature of the election was the collapse of the Tory vote by 24%. It confirms the old adage that Oppositions seldom win elections. It is Governments that lose them, as happened in Australia at the last election.

UK voters rejected the Conservatives for numerous reasons, but they were lukewarm about Labour.

This voter turn off was also reflected in the low voter turnout which at 59% was the lowest in 20 years and the second lowest since 1885.

Another major feature of the UK election which has lessons for Australia is that there was clear concern about the genocide in Gaza. The indifference of the BLP is similar to the indifference of the ALP.

Many of today’s politicians are disinterested in policy but very interested in political numbers. The voting numbers in the UK election tell a clear story about Gaza.

The Independent newspaper in the UK described voter concern about Gaza as follows:

The major parties’ stance on Gaza was a divisive topic during this election, with one in five Asian voters saying it would affect how they voted.

In several Labour constituencies, particularly those with a higher Muslim population, independent candidates were running on the promise that they would have a clearer pro-Palestine and ceasefire stance.

In some seats, the independent candidate has ousted a Labour stronghold. In Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn retook his seat, beating Labour by 7,247 votes. Mr Corbyn has been public about his support for Palestine.

(The Independent | Datawrapper)

Key Labour figures have been hit by shrinking majorities, including British Asian MP Naz Shah who won her seat by just 707 seats, and shadow cabinet ministers Wes Streeting and Shabana Mahmood.

Meanwhile, independent candidates have booted Labour out in four seats, while Adnan Hussain took Labour’s seat in Blackburn by just 132 votes, saying: “This is for Gaza.”

In others, strong Labour majorities have been significantly diminished by voters turning to independents.

How Gaza will affect votes and seats in Australia is yet to play out. Particular Muslim/Palestinian concerns may encourage Asian minorities to lend voter support on Palestine.

The Greens would be expected to poll better in inner city seats. Electorates with large proportions of Muslim voters could turn their back on the ALP if there are strong Independents.

In the 2021 census, Islam made up 31.7% of the voters in Blaxland, 25.1% in Watson and in Calwell 23.8%. In Werriwa, Bruce, McMahon, Scullin, Holt, Parramatta, Wills and Lalor, Muslim voters exceeded 10%.

Most of these seats are safe for Labor but a few could be interesting. If Muslim voters in Wills rebelled against Labor and favoured the Greens that could have a big impact.

There is also a lesson for the ALP in attending to minority groups. The Chinese vote was decisive in several electorates at the last federal election- Chisholm, Tangney, Reid and Bennelong – as a result of the Morrison Government’s hostility to China. Many Asian-Australians who did not have Chinese heritage were also concerned as what they saw as racism.

Concern about Gaza could similarly be reflected in Senate votes. Ken Wyatt has also spoken about an Indigenous Senate ticket in each state and territory. Some Labor supporters may also be reluctant to vote in the House of Representatives to help Dutton but may vote differently in the Senate as a protest over Gaza and AUKUS.

The Senate could be interesting. Independent Senator David Pocock has shown the way with a few clear policies and messages.

The Albanese Government seeks to divert our attention from its indifference to the suffering Palestinians.  Anthony Albanese has given us one excuse after another for his turning away from the genocide – Israel has a right to defend itself even though Israel has for decades stolen Palestinian land and assaulted its people; that criticism of Israel is antisemitic; Muslims are now playing the sectarian card. He gives lip service to a two state solution but does little to advance it.

And once again, this time on Gaza, the Albanese Government meekly falls into line in subservience to the US, a country almost always at war and with one domestic crisis after another.

The genocide in Gaza is not a Muslim, Jewish or Christian issue. It is about our common humanity. It is about justice, not religion.

Or as Desmond Tutu put it,‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor’

And that is what our government has done. It has chosen to ignore the plea of Palestinians for justice. Like the British Labour Party.

The Labor Government will pay a heavy price for its bullying of Senator Fatima Payman. She has  been shabbily dealt with by tone deaf Ministers who have been background briefing the media against her.

And our White Mans Media in the Canberra Press Gallery are again playing the race card as they have been doing for years on China.


Readers may also be interested in the following article:

Australian moral failure on Gaza


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