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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Labour’s Gaza stance has pushed many Muslim candidates to face as independents

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The 2024 election will see a prolonged checklist of impartial candidates standing towards Labour politicians in protest towards its place on Gaza.

A newly organised group known as The Muslim Vote is making an attempt particularly to mobilise Muslims to vote towards Labour in areas the place Muslims make up over 10% of the voters and the place the MP voted towards a ceasefire within the Home of Commons final November. To this finish, it has created a listing of MPs – primarily independents but in addition some Employees Get together of Britain and Inexperienced celebration candidates – to vote for in goal constituencies.

There are 3.9 million Muslims within the UK, in keeping with the 2021 census. Collectively they make up 6.5% of the inhabitants – 1.2 million greater than the earlier census in 2011.

Historically, Muslims have been electorally loyal to Labour. They’ve lengthy seen Labour as being sympathetic to the rights of ethnic minorities and the working class – teams that the majority Muslims, although not all, fall into.

Not all Muslims vote Labour, in fact, however it’s however the case that the majority Muslims see Labour as their pure house. On the native council stage, there are, in keeping with the Labour Muslim Councillor Community, over 500 Muslim councillors throughout the UK – and over 75% of them are members of the Labour celebration. Within the 2019 basic election, over 80% of Muslims voted Labour.

However this relationship is fraying because the 2024 election approaches. Labour chief Keir Starmer’s now notorious radio interview through which he appeared to recommend that Israel had the correct to chop off energy and water in Gaza has caught in minds. Starmer later clarified what he meant by insisting: “I used to be saying Israel had the correct to self-defence … I used to be not saying Israel had the correct to chop off water, meals, gasoline or medicines.” However nuanced positions not often get protection, in fact.

From interviews I’ve carried out with Muslim voters as a part of ongoing analysis, it’s definitely the case that many are disillusioned with the Labour celebration.

Proof from the native council, mayoral and police and crime commissioner elections throughout England and Wales in Could this 12 months additionally suggests Labour celebration assist was down by eight factors since final 12 months in wards with Muslim populations of over 10% .

Labour misplaced management of Oldham council, an space that’s 24% Muslim. The deputy chief of Manchester council, who represented Labour, additionally misplaced his seat to a consultant of George Galloway’s Employees Get together of Britain.

George Galloway and Workers Party of Britain supporters.
Galloway claims to have received Rochdale ‘for Gaza’.
See Li/Image Capital /Alamy

Within the West Midlands mayoral election, the impartial pro-Gaza candidate, Akmed Yaqoob, received almost 70,000 votes, coming in third place. He’s now contesting Birmingham Ladywood, a protected Labour parliamentary seat held by shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood since 2010.

Learn extra:
Election 2024: what number of seats each celebration in Westminster is defending – and what they’re aiming for on July 4

The Iraq legacy

The connection between Muslims and Labour has been examined earlier than and, simply as now, overseas coverage was on the coronary heart of the matter. The 2003 warfare in Iraq was an essential turning level in Labour-Muslim relations. A parliamentary byelection held that very same 12 months within the north-west London constituency Brent East noticed the Liberal Democrats overturn a Labour parliamentary majority of 13,000.

On the time, the Muslim inhabitants of Brent represented over 12% of the borough – and lots of cited the army intervention in Iraq as their cause for switching.

The byelection represented a milestone. It was the primary time that British Muslims had used a bloc vote at parliamentary stage. This was repeated 9 months later, when Muslims helped to overturn a 12,000 majority in Leicester South, handing the constituency as soon as once more to the Liberal Democrats.

Native elections in 2003 noticed the Labour celebration undergo massive electoral losses throughout the nation. And in locations like Birmingham, with a sizeable Muslim demographic, the celebration misplaced management over the native authority, due partially to a “Baghdad backlash”.

The extent of the backlash grew to become clear within the 2005 basic election, when the Respect celebration, a product of the anti-war motion, managed to discipline 26 candidates. A kind of was Galloway, who comfortably received the seat of Bethnal Inexperienced and Bow in East London – an space the place 40% of the voters was of British Bangladeshi background and the Muslim vote was excessive. The seat was taken from Labour’s Oona King, who had voted for army intervention in Iraq.

In 2024, that very same constituency, with a re-configured boundary and new title – Bethnal Inexperienced and Stepney – might be focused by an impartial pro-Gaza candidate standing towards Labour’s Rushanara Ali.

Initially, that impartial candidate was Tasnime Akunjee, a Muslim solicitor, who has represented Shamima Begum. Nevertheless, a couple of days earlier than the deadline for candidate nominations in June 2024, Akunjee withdrew. He acknowledged in a publish on X that the impartial motion throughout the nation was being break up by a number of folks standing in a single constituency and that he would step apart to make approach for one more candidate, Ajmal Masroor.

This illustrates a urgent query for Muslim communities. In the event that they don’t vote Labour, who will they vote for? Not like within the aftermath of the 2003 warfare in Iraq, when the Liberal Democrats had been largely the beneficiary of Muslims deciding to show away from Labour, this time spherical, there was a concerted effort to push impartial candidates reasonably than a longtime celebration.

Many independents are standing on a Gaza platform, however since there isn’t any official celebration, that impartial pro-Gaza Muslim vote is at risk of being break up throughout a number of impartial candidates if a couple of stands in any constituency. Not all impartial candidates really feel so convivially in the direction of others that they’d be prepared to step apart for them.

Muslims make up over 30% of the voters in 20 constituencies throughout the UK. Each a type of constituencies voted in a Labour MP within the 2019 basic election. And most will in all probability return a Labour MP this time spherical, too. Labour is on target for a big majority, in keeping with each ballot.

However because the celebration marches forward with a mantra for change, it leaves behind a cohort of voters that’s deeply disillusioned. The Muslim vote won’t price the Labour celebration an election victory. Electorally, Labour needn’t be too involved. Nevertheless, the obvious abandonment of a neighborhood of voters who’ve been loyal to the celebration for therefore lengthy and who now discover themselves politically homeless could also be a difficulty that Labour might wish to mirror on as soon as the euphoria settles.


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