Gaza: Jon Ashworth loses in Leicester as independents win Blackburn and Batley

Jonathan Ashworth

The Shadow Paymaster General, Jonathan Ashworth, no longer holds his seats in Leicester, Blackburn, Dewsbury, and Batley as they have been won by independent candidates. This is seen as a response from voters unhappy with the situation in Gaza.

In Blackburn, the Labour party lost ground to an independent candidate who received 27% of the votes in the north-west area. In Dewsbury and Batley, Labour saw a significant drop in votes of over 36% for Heather Iqbal, a former adviser to Rachel Reeves.

The Labour party was unsuccessful in winning back Claudia Webbe's former MP seat in Leicester, as well as in securing victory in Chingford and Woodford Green.

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Almost losing his seat in east London's Ilford North, Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting emerged victorious by a margin of just 1,000 votes. In Bethnal Green, Rushanara Ali narrowly secured her win, while Jess Phillips managed to cling onto her seat in Birmingham with a slim margin of approximately 700 votes.

According to a study by Sky News, there has been a decrease of over 14% in the Labour vote in areas where the Muslim population exceeds 15%. The frustration over the situation in Gaza has also led to a significant increase in independent votes in certain constituencies.

The Labour party has encountered various obstacles from independent candidates who are putting in a lot of effort to attract Muslim voters who are upset with Labour's lack of stronger support for Palestinians in the midst of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Labour also was unsuccessful in securing a victory in Chingford and Woodford Green against their previous candidate.

Jon Ashworth suffered a significant loss in the election, with his percentage of the vote decreasing by 35 points compared to 2019. This defeat is a major setback for him.

The party is now missing two important senior members from the shadow cabinet, with Thangam Debbonaire, the Shadow Culture Secretary, losing in Bristol Central as well.

In the latest election, the Conservative Party succeeded in securing victory in Leicester East. Webbe ran as an independent candidate, despite previously holding the position of Labour MP for the same constituency after the 2019 general election. Before that, she had experience as a councillor in Islington and had also been a member of the NEC, where she was elected as the chair of the disputes panel in 2018.

Claudia Webbe was found guilty of harassment in November 2021 and her appeal against this decision was rejected in May 2022. Labour has urged her to step down as a Member of Parliament. In September 2020, her membership in the Labour Party was temporarily suspended due to the harassment allegations and she has not been reinstated since then.

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