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Andy Street Exits

Rebellious voices on the Conservative benches began to rouse on Saturday night, with former home secretary Suella Braverman laying the blame of the defeats at the door of Downing Street…reports Asian Lite News

Andy Street has lost the West Midlands mayoralty in a shock defeat for the Conservatives, as Labour candidates swept to victory across England amid a drubbing for Rishi Sunak.

Tory Street had hoped to cling on in the West Midlands, but Labour candidate Richard Parker beat him with a majority of just 1,508 votes. His victory over the Conservative incumbent may have been higher had former Labour voters not lent their support to a local independent candidate amid disquiet over the party’s stance on Gaza. The Conservative loss was part of a double blow for the Prime Minister after Labour’s Sadiq Khan secured a historic third term as Mayor of London.

The party also counted mayoral victories in Liverpool, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and in Greater Manchester where Andy Burnham returned to power. With the loss of the West Midlands, the Prime Minister is left with the sole consolation of a mayoral victory in the Tees Valley.

Lord Ben Houchen retained the region for the Tories on Friday, amid denials he had sought to distance himself from the Conservatives during the campaign. Street’s loss may have an impact on the Prime Minister’s defence against backbench Tory challenges to his authority.

Rebellious voices on the Conservative benches began to rouse on Saturday night, with former home secretary Suella Braverman laying the blame of the defeats at the door of Downing Street.

But she insisted ousting the party leader “won’t work”, adding: “The hole to dig us out of is the PM’s, and it’s time for him to start shovelling.”

She urged Sunak to adopt “strong leadership, not managerialism” on tax, migration, the small boats and law and order. As West Midlands mayor, Mr Parker will represent an area covering Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Coventry, and other boroughs across the region.

In London, Khan secured just over 1,088,000 votes to be re-elected London Mayor, a majority of some 275,000 over Conservative rival Ms Hall, who secured just under 813,000 votes. It was the first time the contest has been run using the first-past-the-post system, where a winning candidate needs to secure a simple majority of votes.

Critics of the change in system suggested it would favour Conservative candidates, but this proved not to be the case.

Khan joined a chorus of Labour voices calling on the Prime Minister to now call a general election. In his victory speech at London City Hall, he said: “For the last eight years, London has been swimming against the tide of a Tory government, and now, with a Labour Party that’s ready to govern again under Keir Starmer, it’s time for Rishi Sunak to give the public a choice. A general election will not just pave the path to a new direction for our country, but it will make bold action Londoners want to see a reality.”

Labour leader Sir Keir had earlier suggested the Tories do not “deserve to be in Government for a moment longer”. With 106 out of 107 of the local councils declared on Saturday, the Conservatives had suffered a net loss of 396 councillors, and the loss of 10 councils.

Labour won control of eight councils with a net gain of 231 seats, while the Liberal Democrats gained 97 seats and the Greens 64. Labour has lost seats in a smattering of council seats to independents and George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain, apparently over its position on the conflict in the Middle East.

Opposition suffers major Muslim vote losses  

A series of local election victories by the UK’s opposition Labour Party has been overshadowed by a major fall in support among Muslim voters, leading to concern within the party ahead of a general election later this year.

After local elections were held across the country on Thursday, Labour suffered key losses in areas with high Muslim populations due to controversies over the party’s stance on the Gaza war.

Labour must do some “searching” in response to “questions” over its performance, one MP said.

The potential loss of Labour candidate Richard Parker in the West Midlands mayoralty election led to a racism row after an unnamed party source blamed “the Middle East” on deciding the race.

In total, the party gained more than 140 council seats during the elections, The Guardian reported.

But those gains are overshadowed by the potential West Midlands defeat and the Conservative candidate for mayor of London, Susan Hall, running a closer race against incumbent Sadiq Khan than previously expected.

Labour have “trouble brewing on their left flank” after focusing on traditionally rural and whiter areas, said Rob Ford, a politics professor at the University of Manchester.

“There has been a substantial loss of support in heavily Muslim areas and they are going backwards a bit in progressive areas and areas with students. It is progress at a price,” he added.

By offsetting urban losses with gains among rural voters, Labour would win about 34 percent of votes at a general election compared to 25 percent for the Conservatives, the BBC reported.

Yet fear of bleeding urban voters, including Muslims, is driving anxiety in the party ahead of the general election, sources told The Guardian.

“The polls (which predicted a 20-point lead for Khan) were completely wrong, this is going to be much closer than expected,” one source said.

A source in Birmingham, where independent candidate Akhmed Yakoob stood as a spoiler to Labour, said: “Yakoob is picking up over 50 percent in some inner-city wards, so the Gaza impact may be bigger than first estimated.”

Labour also suffered a shock loss in Oldham, losing control of the council after a number of seats were taken by pro-Palestinian independent candidates.

In Manchester, the party lost its deputy leader to a candidate from MP George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain.

Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, told the “Electoral Dysfunction” podcast in the wake of the vote that the party will have to “wake up and face” the issues that led to losses against independent and Workers Party of Britain candidates.

“I very much expect, as the mayoral votes come in, that in places like Birmingham, Bradford, places with high Muslim populations, as we’ve seen overnight in Oldham, that the Labour Party will have some questions that they have, and some searching to do themselves,” she added, according to Sky News.

Areas with a proportion of Muslim voters higher than 20 percent recorded average losses of 17.9 points for Labour.

The comments by a party source concerning the West Midlands race have led to a post-election race row.

“It’s the Middle East, not West Midlands that will have won (Conservative Mayor Andy) Street the mayoralty. Once again Hamas are the real villains,” the Labour source reportedly told the BBC.

The remarks were condemned by figures including Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, the Daily Telegraph reported.

“This is a disgusting way to talk about Muslim voters, conflating them with Hamas and treating them as a monolith,” she said. “It reeks of racism and entitlement. Such comments should have no place in the Labour Party.”

According to The Times, MP Zarah Sultana said: “Once again, I’m deeply disturbed by Islamophobic quotes given to the media by ‘Labour sources.’

“When politicians are confronted with racist bile, it should be immediately condemned. As a party we need to listen to and acknowledge concerns, not hold British Muslims in contempt.”

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