Tuesday, July 23, 2024

How Muslim voters slashed and bruised Labour in dozens of seats over Palestine

LONDON: The Labour Party has been sent a strong message not to take for granted the Muslim voters after five independent pro-Palestine candidates, including former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, won in the July 4 general elections with Israel’s war on Gaza among key issues for voters.

The other independent candidates who won their seats from Labour on Friday on the issue of Israel’s war on Palestine and Labour’s support for the war include Shockat Adam in Leicester South, Ayoub Khan in Birmingham Perry Barr, Adnan Hussain in Blackburn, and Iqbal Mohamed in Dewsbury and Batley.

In several constituencies, Labour majorities were slashed significantly and over half a dozen key Labour candidates came close to losing the election to pro-Gaza Independents candidates.

The Muslim Vote (TMV) campaign group said: “These results are unprecedented. They send shockwaves through our political system.

The goal from the very start has been to empower the Muslim vote and send the main political parties a message: Muslims are united, in Muslim-heavy areas your majorities will be under threat, and there may even be an upset. We have done that in spades.”

The group said Jonathan Ashworth’s loss to Shockat Adam (Leicester South) is significant because he was going to be in the Cabinet. It said that Lib Dems and Greens have hugely benefited from the Muslim vote as Muslims have deserted Labour for Independents, Greens and Lib Dems over their anti-war stance.”

Keir Starmer

Labour leader Keir Starmer, the next prime minister, had his own majority slashed and he was heckled with shouts of “Free Palestine” both at the polling station in his Holborn and St Pancras
constituency and at his election count as he was declared to have won his seat. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer. — Reuters/File
Labour leader Keir Starmer. — Reuters/File

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer won with 18,884 votes – with pro-Palestinian activist, independent Andrew Feinstein, in second place with 7312 voters. Starmer’s majority is down significantly from 22,766 in 2019 to 11,572.

Jeremy Corbyn

Pro-Palestine politician Jeremy Corbyn, 75, who has represented London’s Islington North constituency for more than 40 years, was re-elected after defeating Labour’s Praful Nargund by 24,120 votes to 16,873. 

Pro-Palestine politician Jeremy Corbyn. — Reuters/File
Pro-Palestine politician Jeremy Corbyn. — Reuters/File

He said those who voted for him were “looking for a government that on the world stage will search for peace, not war, and not allow the terrible conditions to go on in Gaza at the present time”.

Shockat Adam

The optician Shockat Adam unseated Labour frontbencher Jonathan Ashworth in Leicester South in a shock outcome. 

Shockat Adam. — MEE
Shockat Adam. — MEE

Adam dedicated his victory to “Gaza”. Jonathan Ashworth, the party’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, was one of the highest-profile political casualties of the rise in support for pro-Palestinian candidates in urban areas with high Muslim populations.

Iqbal Mohamed

Community worker Iqbal Mohamed, whose key focus areas include a ceasefire in Gaza, beat the Labour candidate Heather Iqbal in Dewsbury and Batley. 

Community worker Iqbal Mohamed. — BBC
Community worker Iqbal Mohamed. — BBC

Heather Iqbal is a former adviser to the shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves. Iqbal Hussain won by over 7000 votes.

Adnan Hussain

In Blackburn, the constituency once held by the former home secretary Jack Straw, Labour’s Kate Hollern lost by 132 votes to the independent Adnan Hussain, who has a local solicitor office. This constituency has voted Labour for nearly 100 years, now fallen. 

Independent Adnan Hussain. — X@Mariahussain
Independent Adnan Hussain. — X@Mariahussain

The solicitor said in his online statement to voters: “I promise to make your concerns against the injustice being inflicted against the people of Gaza be heard in the places where our so-called representatives failed.”

Ayoub Khan

In Birmingham Perry Barr, the former Labour MP Khalid Mahmood lost to the independent Ayoub Khan who had resigned from Lib Dems over publication of pro-Palestine videos. Khalid Mahmood lost after 24 year of reign in Perry Barr.

Ayoub Khan. — Anadolu/File
Ayoub Khan. — Anadolu/File

In several other seats, high-profile Labour MPs were also run close by independent candidates and almost all of them came close to losing.

Leanne Mohamad

In East London’s Ilford, rising Labour star and Cabinet member Wes Streeting won by only 528 votes more than his closest rival, Leanne Mohamad. 

Leanne Mohamad. — leannemohamad.co.uk
Leanne Mohamad. — leannemohamad.co.uk

The Palestine origin candidate ran a massive community campaign against Labour. Wes Streeting’s previous majority of 5000 is now down to 500.

James Giles

In Birmingham Hodge Hill, the former cabinet minister Liam Byrne won by just over 1,500 votes over James Giles, the candidate for George Galloway’s Workers party of Britain. Giles came within inches of beating the Labour stalwart.

James Giles. — IamBirmingham
James Giles. — IamBirmingham

Rushanara Ali

Rushanara Ali also won by just over 1,500 votes in Bethnal Green and Bow, where many in the Bangladeshi community were also angered by the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, talking about deporting Bangladeshi people whose asylum claims had been refused. 

Rushanara Ali. — Rushanara Alis website
Rushanara Ali. — Rushanara Ali’s website

Rushanara Ali was facing a challenge from Ajmal Masroor, the broadcaster and activist who would have won easily if the independent vote was not split. In Ali’s seat, Labour campaigners were followed down the street while handing out leaflets as campaigners accused her of siding with Keir Starmer. Rushanara Ali is down from 37000 majority to just 1700.

Shabana Mahmood

The rising star Shabana Mahmood won in Birmingham Ladywood, beating the independent Akhmed Yakoob by about 3,500 votes. 

She has been appointed the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary in Keir Starmer’s Cabinet. Her majority of 30000 is down to 3000. 

Shabana Mahmood. — UK Parliament
Shabana Mahmood. — UK Parliament

The 36-year-old defence solicitor and Lamborghini-driving activist has 195,000 followers on the social media platform. He is known for running his campaigns on Instagram and TikTok. 

In Birmingham’s Mayoral Election, Yakoob won a staggering 70,000 votes as an independent, eating into the voter base of Labour.

Jody McIntyre

Labour’s Jess Phillips narrowly managed to hold onto her Birmingham Yardley seat, scraping 11,275 votes compared to the 10,582 won by Workers Party candidate Jody McIntyre who was running on the Palestine issue. 

Workers Party candidate Jody McIntyre. — Instagram/@jodymcintyremp
Workers Party candidate Jody McIntyre. — Instagram/@jodymcintyremp 

Jess Phillips used her victory speech to declare that the campaign for her Birmingham Yardley seat was “the worst election I have ever stood in”. Jess Phillips is down from 10000 majority to just 700.

Tan Dhesi

In Slough, Labour’s Tan Dhesi narrowly won from pro-Palestine Independent Azhar Chohan. Independent Network-backed Azhar Chohan won 11,019 votes, coming second to Labour’s Tan Dhesi – in the closest result in years. 

Mr Chohan won 3,647 fewer votes than the winning Labour candidate Tan Dhesi. Mr Dhesi won 29,421 votes in 2019 – 13,640 more than his closest rival the Conservative candidate. It means his majority has fallen by some 10,000 votes.

Labour’s Tan Dhesi. — Labour Party
Labour’s Tan Dhesi. — Labour Party

Mr Chohan said the result showed people in Slough felt “betrayed” by Labour.

Imran Hussain

The former barrister turned politician Imran Hussain has retained this seat for Labour in Bradford with 14098 votes..

Imran Hussain.
Imran Hussain. 

In the last elections, Imran Hussain had received 27,825 votes but this time the runner up is Talat Sajawal (independent) who received 7909 votes, coming second. Talat Sajawal said Labour has betrayed the voters.

Faiza Shaheen

Independent candidate Faiza Shaheen blamed Labour for letting former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith win in Chingford and Woodford Green, saying the vote was split between her and her Labour challenger. 

Independent candidate Faiza Shaheen. — Facebook/@faizaoffical
Independent candidate Faiza Shaheen. — Facebook/@faizaoffical

Ian Duncan Smith won only because Faiza Shaheen and the Labour candidate’s vote was split. Faiza Shaheen has said she was ousted by the party for being outspoken on Palestine.

David Lammy

In the Labour safe seat of Tottenham, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy won a majority but saw his vote share plummet by 20 points, as a result of the party’s stance on Gaza. 

Independent candidate Nandita Lal said the frontbencher had been put “on notice” by his constituents, adding: “Our community has shown Labour that we will not be taken for granted, that we believe all human lives are equal. Lammy has been put on notice. 

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy. — Reuters/File
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy. — Reuters/File

He must now publish the legal advice on whether Israel is breaking international law that he called on the Conservatives to publish, and halt arms sales.”

Muhammed Ali Islam

Naz Shah has won this seat for Labour with 11,724 votes but with just 707 votes. Muhammed Ali Islam, an independent candidate, followed with 11,017 votes. 

Muhammed Ali Islam. — Bradford Council
Muhammed Ali Islam. — Bradford Council

Naz Shah’s majority is down from over 27,000 to just 707 votes. She had received 33736 votes in 2019.

‘Fostering meaningful dialogue’

The Muslim Council of Britain congratulates the Labour Party and Sir Keir Starmer on this successful election victory.

Zara Mohammed, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “We congratulate the Labour Party and Sir Keir Starmer on this historic win and welcome a new Government and change for the UK. 

For over a decade, we have seen an uptick in Islamophobia, in the vilification of Muslims and poor engagement with our communities. With a new government, Now is the time for fostering meaningful dialogue and regaining the trust of British Muslim communities. 

We need a change to move from austerity to ease, from hardship to comfort, and from divisive politics to a model of engagement that includes all communities.

“For British Muslim voters, as with fellow voters, there has been an overwhelming sense of helplessness over the situation in Gaza and the UK’s unwillingness to demand a ceasefire and call out a plausible genocide. We have seen this best expressed in the seats where independents have now won or taken a considerable share of the vote, an indication that no vote should be taken for granted.”

Britain’s total population is around 65 million according to the census in 2021. The eligible voters are around 50 million. The total number of Muslims in Britain today is around four million, including Muslims from all over the world, with Pakistanis and Kashmiris making the largest group at over 1.5 million, followed by Bangladeshi and Indian Muslims. Also, more than 100,000 people of Pakistani origin are living in Scotland.

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