The Socialist Unity Network
Article on this story from the Mirror
THE BACKLASH Sep 11 2004

Muslim anti-war vote loses safe seat for Labour

By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent

LABOUR is facing a Muslim backlash over Iraq with thousands of traditional supporters defecting to the anti-war Respect party.

In a shock result, the Party was driven into third place in a council by-election in Tower Hamlets, East London - the safest Labour borough in the capital.

The area has a strong Asian community which used to hand Labour easy victories.

But defections to Respect split the vote and allowed Tory Simon Rouse to win the Millwall Ward on a 20 per cent swing.

A recent opinion poll revealed Muslim support for Labour nationally has plummetted [sic] to 38 per cent from 75 before the September 11 attacks three years ago.

Former Tory MP Harry Greenway, who fought several unsuccessful campaigns there in the 70s, said: "A Tory graveyard is now a fertile jumping-off point for success at the next general election."

Tower Hamlets is in the Westminster constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow, where the MP is Blair ally Oona King.

George Galloway, whose Respect party won a seat on the council in a by-election last month, said: "Oona King must be a very worried Blair babe indeed."

Last month former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook toured mosques in a bid to persuade Muslims back to Labour. He said: "There is dismay of the Prime Minister's decision to take us to war on Iraq."

And in June, Labour's support slipped in the West Midlands after Tony Blair sent a letter to Muslim households begging them not to desert the Party.

Labour said: "We are constantly trying to build relations with all communities. This is a concern but Respect is not a major threat across the board."


September 2004


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