Police called out as Labour supporters abused and harassed in Alum Rock over 'toxic' Gaza anger

Alum Rock Road, Birmingham
-Credit: (Image: BirminghamLive/Harry Leach)

Labour canvassers in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham had to twice call the police this weekend amid fears for their safety after being harassed and abused while delivering leaflets. It's the latest sign of the growing toxicity in parts of the city as Independents standing on pro-Palestine platforms battle to turn voters against the Labour Party.

Campaigners out supporting Labour's Shabana Mahmood on Sunday came under verbal attack that 'went far beyond exercising their right to free speech', said one of her team today. Twice the volunteers had to call the police amid fears for their safety.

In a separate incident last week, a teenage canvasser out in north Edgbaston delivering leaflets for Labour's Preet Kaur Gill was harassed by a rival's supporter who told her she would 'never wash off the blood of dead Gazan children'. Independents across the city are standing in seats on a pro-Palestine platform, with their efforts largely focussed on Labour rivals who they say have been a let-down on Gaza.

READ MORE: Labour's Shabana Mahmood fights back on Gaza and 'vile threats'

But the tone of language used and the unfolding division within communities is causing increasing alarm as polling day approaches. Labour candidates are wholesale accused of being supporters of genocide in Gaza for failing to collectively demand an immediate ceasefire in the early weeks of the Israeli response to the Hamas attack of October 7. A campaign at the start of the year had accused all Labour councillors and MPs of being responsible for failing to halt the murderous attacks in Gaza.

At the weekend, in a video seen by BirminghamLive, Labour's canvassers were pictured talking to police officers about their harassment concerns while Independent Akhmed Yakoob delivered leaflets further up the road. The incidents occurred over the weekend.

"The police attended twice due to harassment and abuse directed at activists that went beyond exercising a right to free speech," said a member of Mahmood's campaign team. In separate incidents, the use of doctored videos to spread negative messages has also caused alarm.

As previously revealed by Birmingham Live, a doorstep video promoted by Yakoob claimed, falsely, that a young Labour activist had used a racial slur against an Asian voter. She ended up receiving threats after Yakoob also circulated her name and that of the school she worked at. We later revealed the footage had been manipulated and false captions added.

Independent candidate for Ladywood Akhmed Yakoob
Independent candidate for Ladywood Akhmed Yakoob -Credit:Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

None of Labour's local candidates has been spared, no matter their personal records on votes or actions promoting Palestinian nationhood and equality. Starmer has faced intense criticism for remarks made to LBC in the immediate aftermath of the Hamas terror attack on Israel, when he appeared to defend Israel's right to cut off food, water and aid into the Gaza Strip as their soldiers hunted down those responsible. Labour has since confirmed it wants to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and two state solution.

Nationally, with the party on course to win against a battered Conservative party, the seats of Ladywood, Yardley, Selly Oak, Hall Green and Moseley, Hodge Hill, Erdington, Edgbaston and Perry Barr should all have been safe Labour seats, with Northfield in the party's sights. Close Starmer ally and likely the country's next Justice Secretary, Shabana Mahmood, went into her campaign with a majority of 28,582.

In an incident last week, a furious Preet Gill said she was out canvassing with young campaigners when a volunteer supporter of Independent rival Dr Ammar Waraich allegedly spoke to one teenage woman to tell her the blood on her hands over Gaza 'would never wash off'. In a statement Dr Waraich said the incident was being investigated. "We have asked all volunteers to remain polite and respectful at all times and will be reiterating that we want to uphold these values going forward."

Mr Yakoob's team said they would remove the video if it was proven to have been doctored. They also said they did not condone anyone harassing or abusing anyone on the campaign trail. Separately, Mr Yakoob has apologised about the doctored video alleging a teacher was racist.

We have contacted West Midlands Police about the threat to politicians and canvassers.