Labour’s Khalid Mahmood says party has become ‘London-centric’

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: David Mirzoeff/PA</span>
Photograph: David Mirzoeff/PA

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood has doubled down on his scathing criticism of the party after its defeat in Hartlepool, saying Labour has become too focused on London-centric issues which are irrelevant to working-class people.

In an article published on Friday, Mahmood said the Labour party had been captured by a “London-based bourgeoisie” and “brigades of woke social media warriors”.

Speaking to the Guardian, Mahmood stood by his criticism but stopped short of attacking Keir Starmer’s leadership, saying he hasn’t had the opportunity to prove himself yet.

“I’m sure he will look at this article and say, ‘We need to look at some of those issues’. And I know he’s doing that. We can’t point a finger at somebody who we haven’t really given a chance yet.”

Mahmood said the party is too focused on city centre office workers and “London-centrist issues” that don’t affect people around the country who work in industries like engineering and manufacturing.

“We’ve actually moved away from the working-class people,” he said, adding he wants the party to champion trade unions more.

Mahmood, England’s first Muslim MP, said he quit the party’s frontbench last month so he can spend more time tackling Islamophobia and radicalisation.

Related: Election results expose the deep problems of Starmer’s Labour

He also said he doesn’t think Labour has much chance of success in the West Midlands mayoral contest, anticipated to be the most closely fought mayoral race. The results of the contest are due to be announced on Saturday afternoon.

“It doesn’t look too brilliant for our mayoral candidate, Liam Byrne, but these are the issues that we need to get straight,” he said. “We should have had Liam winning this and unfortunately, it looks like that’s not going to be the case”.

In an article for thinktank Policy Exchange, the MP for Birmingham Perry Barr said: “Labour has lost touch with ordinary British people. A London-based bourgeoisie, with the support of brigades of woke social media warriors, has effectively captured the party.

“They mean well, of course, but their politics – obsessed with identity, division and even tech utopianism – have more in common with those of Californian high society than the kind of people who voted in Hartlepool yesterday.”

He said his comment on “tech utopianism” was a reference to people working from home, “which is fine in London, but you’ll find a majority of the people across the country don’t do that”.

“Everything is all about the people working from coffee shops or working from home, walking around with their laptops and sitting down wherever,” he said. “Most people outside of London can’t afford to do that, they have physical jobs where they have to attend a workplace, and have all the issues related to that to deal with.

“We need to get out and actually work on the real issues.”

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