Election choices in Birmingham Selly Oak

Bob Whitehead reports on the contest in Birmingham Selly Oak


There are some interesting general election contests in Birmingham, and the Selly Oak constituency is host to one of them. The long serving MP Steve McCabe, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, resigned a short while ago. The large and persistent pro-Palestinian mobilisations at his surgeries may well have been a factor in that decision. However, the very late resignation enabled a democratic selection process to be avoided and an outsider to be parachuted in as the new PPC. He is Alistair Carns – a former British Army colonel who served in Afghanistan.

The momentum of the pro-Palestinian mobilisations has continued by the standing of an independent candidate, Kamel Hawwash, a longstanding Palestinian activist. His campaign, which also includes progressive social policies, has really taken off and drawn in a lot of new people, including from the local Labour Party itself. At a recent large hustings, Kamel stole the show, and the biggest applause of the evening was when he supported an arms embargo for Israel.

head shot of Kamel Hawwash

Kamel’s statement reads:

I’m a lecturer at a local university, a parent and a human rights campaigner. After 6 years of being a member of the Labour Party, I resigned because like so many others I felt betrayed by it.

Under 14 years of Tory rule we are left with a worsening housing crisis, a cost of living crisis and an energy crisis. Our NHS is underfunded and our schools are struggling too. Working people’s wages do not cover rent, food and bills. They had millions of pounds for ineffective PPE during the Covid-19 pandemic and to fund wars and genocide yet crippled our public services. Instead of providing a real opposition, the Labour Party has abandoned so many of it’s promises and cannot be trusted to support us.

As a Palestinian, I’m shocked and appalled that both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer have justified war crimes against the people of Gaza. Steve McCabe, the ex-Labour MP for Selly Oak and the Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, has gone as far as justifying the bombing of children, women and hospitals in Gaza.

I care deeply about the issues affecting the people of Selly Oak and that’s why I’ve decided to stand as a Parliamentary Candidate for Selly Oak on the 4th July.


Immediate recognition of Palestine and support the ICC and ICJ rulings for justice & peace.

End homelessness – build more social rent homes to fix the housing crisis.

Save our NHS from privatisation – pay staff what they demand with better working conditions.

Scrap university tuition fees and bring back student grants.

Demand a ‘wealth tax’ to improve all our public services and welfare system.

Save our planet – put energy back into public hands and invest more in sustainable energies.

Everyone is treated fairly including people with disabilities, minorities, immigrants and refugees.

Reinstate funding cut from all local services and libraries in our community.

Labour had a majority of over 12,000 at the 2019 general election, and with a likely further reduction of the Tory vote, support for Kamel is unlikely to let the Tory in. At the hustings their candidate was completely isolated. The other credible opponent of ex-colonel Carns would be the effective Green Party candidate. For Kamel to boost his prospects further, he will need to make the climate and environmental crisis a big part of his profile.

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