Home News Labour loses votes in Muslim regions over Gaza policy

Labour loses votes in Muslim regions over Gaza policy


The Gaza war is a headwind for the Labour Party, which has long been a natural supporter of Britain’s majority Muslim voters. As the election results became clear, there was evidence that the party lost votes in areas with large Muslim populations, with at least four traditional seats going to candidates who offered a different approach to Gaza policy, and other candidates holding similar views.

In Leicester South, independent candidate Shaukat Adam Patel, who declared in a speech “this is for Gaza”, defeated Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, who had been tipped to take a cabinet role in Keir Starmer’s new government.

Many British Muslims and other votersIt demands that party leaders be more vocal in condemning the rising death toll and deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and that the new government work harder to pressure Israel to reach an immediate ceasefire agreement with Hamas.

In areas of the UK with large Muslim populations, the Labour Party performed significantly poorly in local elections in May. Special elections earlier this year.

In the run-up to the vote, experts noted that the debate had focused largely on domestic issues and said the Gaza war was unlikely to have a major impact on the outcome. However, Paul Whiteley, a professor at the Department of Government at the University of Essex, said that for some supporters, Labour’s stance sometimes felt at odds with its anti-colonial roots.

“The war in Gaza clearly conflicts with Labour’s historic commitment to anti-colonialism,” he said. “What’s happening now is that there is growing sympathy for the Palestinians within the Labour party, and growing concern about Israel’s behaviour.”

Since becoming Labour leader in 2020, Mr Starmer has worked to distance the party from previous accusations of anti-Semitism from the party’s far left, including ousting the party’s former leader Jeremy CorbynStarmer’s support for Israel has been largely consistent with the Conservative government since the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 that sparked Israel’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

It was not until February, after thousands of civilians had died in Gaza and there had been widespread unrest within the Labour Party, that Starmer began advocating for an immediate ceasefire. A few weeks later, the Conservatives also supported it. Proposal supported by the United States Demand an immediate end to the fighting and the release of hostages held in Gaza.

Starmer has sought to appease the left wing of his party by saying in May that he was committed to recognizing Palestinian independence, but that it should be done as part of a peace process with Israel. That is broadly in line with the views of the Conservative-led government and the Biden administration, both of which have rejected calls for unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood. As three European countries did last month.

Before the election, Labour Party activists Carrying out activities in more than a dozen Muslim-populated areas.

On election day in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets, nearly 40% of the population described themselves as Muslim. 2021 Censusa campaign truck opposite the Whitechapel polling station repeatedly played a recording saying, “A vote for Labour is a vote for genocide.”

Nearby Al Tabu Ali Park — named after a young Bangladeshi Killed by racists 1978 – Omar Zahid said he had voted Labour all his life and now planned to vote for an independent candidate. He cited a number of reasons, including Mr Starmer’s recent comments About Bangladeshi immigrantsand said his local Labour MP, Rushanala Aliwho was disappointed with her voting record on the Gaza war.

“I sent her an email as a concerned voter, but got only a generic response,” said Zahid, a fellow at the Global Policy Institute. “We later found out that her voting record showed that she abstained from one ceasefire motion and voted against four others.”

Ms. Ali could not be reached for comment, but she recently spoke at a statement Writing on social media: “I have always and will always fight for the Palestinian cause.” She managed to retain her seat with 34.1% of the vote, down from 39.4% in the last election. But her opponent, an independent, received 30.5% of the vote.

In England and Wales, about 6.5% of the population Identifies as MuslimAccording to the 2021 Census. Professor Whiteley said that while there was no uniform “Muslim vote” – preferences often varied by generation, region and so on, 80% of Muslim voters across the country voted for Labor at the last election.

Some activists have made efforts to consolidate the voting bloc. Promote a range of policies, including a ceasefire Gaza It also recognised Palestinian statehood and proposed a range of candidates for Muslim voters.

But analysts say a major shift in Britain’s position on Gaza seems unlikely under a Labour-led government.

Professor Whiteley said of the Labour and Conservative incumbents: “They are effectively singing the same tune – they are not divided on this issue. That’s why the next government is likely to continue with the current policy.”

Joel Peterson Contributed reporting.

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