This election makes Britain ever more vulnerable to sanitised Islamism

With so many small majorities, Labour MPs are set to lean towards the demands of The Muslim Vote


(Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

July 05, 2024 08:55

As we dig beneath the surface of the results, most of the analysis is understandably focused on Labour, the Tories and Reform.

But whether you’re thrilled, ambivalent or worried about the result, for our community – and for the country – one development is deeply concerning: the rise of sectarian voting, in many areas coordinated by an organisation founded by Islamists who backed violent Palestinian “resistance” two days after the October 7 massacres.

Across the country, candidates appealing almost exclusively to Muslim voters, and campaigning over Gaza, had an enormous impact – far greater than almost anyone predicted.

Most strikingly, Shadow Paymaster General Jonathan Ashworth lost his Leicester South seat and Blackburn, Birmingham Perry Barr and Dewsbury and Batley were all won by independents on that ticket. Shockat Adam Patel, who beat Jonathan Ashworth, said in his victory speech: "This is for Gaza". And in Blackburn, won by Adnan Hussein, the Workers Party candidate (whose campaign was also focused on Gaza) also came third. Around a third of Blackburn's residents are Muslim.

In Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn posted on social media yesterday that “Palestine is on the ballot paper”.

And it’s not just the winners. Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting only just held his seat by 528 votes from British-Palestinian independent candidate Leanne Mohamad, Rushanara Ali clung on narrowly in Bethnal Green, and Jess Phillips scraped home in Birmingham by around 700 votes. And in Chingford Labour reject Faiza Shaheen came within 100 votes of the Labour candidate.

One analysis shows that the Labour vote is down by over 14% in constituencies where the Muslim population is above 15%.

There are 37 constituencies with a Muslim population of over 20 per cent, and another 73 seats have a Muslim population between 10 and 20 per cent. The Muslim vote has always mattered, but until now it has not split away from the mainstream into candidates using divisive campaigns to appeal almost entirely and only to Muslims.

But much as last night seems to have shocked people, it’s not surprising. In the local elections in May candidates running on a pro-Palestine platform won in areas such as Blackburn, Bradford and Oldham, all with a large Muslim presence. My colleague David Rose has been one of the few political journalists who have been following this (and do read his analysis of today’s results, here).

Last month David Rose highlighted The Muslim Vote, an umbrella group behind many of the independents who ran yesterday. As he wrote: “An influential campaign group trying to drive Muslims away from Labour and towards more radical, anti-Israel candidates was founded by Islamists who backed violent Palestinian “resistance” two days after the October 7 massacres, the JC can reveal. Key figures behind The Muslim Vote (TMV), an alliance of 24 activist groups which promotes and endorses selected parliamentary candidates across the UK, signed a pledge on October 9 saying they “reaffirm the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli military occupation, including the right to armed struggle”.”

The Muslim Vote has a series of demands that stretch far beyond Labour policy on Gaza, including the legal adoption of a new definition of Islamophobia and reform to Ofcom’s rules on extremism. Such demands (its policy platform has 18 in all) are of far greater long term consequence than Gaza, the immediate cause of its success last night. Labour’s huge majority masks how fragile many of its wins were, with small majorities secured on the basis of a fractured Conservative (and sometimes, as we have seen, Labour) vote. It takes little imagination to envisage Labour MPs with small majorities tacking to embrace The Muslim Vote’s demands, and thus acting almost as sanitised advocates for Islamist ideas.

But it’s not just about policy. Last night saw deeply concerning scenes at some counts. In Birmingham, both Jess Phillips and Shabana Mahmood were heckled throughout their victory speeches. Phillips spoke after of the "misogyny, hatred, threatened violence" that had marked the campaign in her constituency.

This is not going away. It is only getting worse, and it is a huge test not just for Labour but for politics itself. Our politics has never divided on sectarian lines (other than in Northern Ireland, which in a very different way shows how dangerous that is). For our community, this is likely to be the defining issue in the months and years to come.

In that context, Paul Goodman, the former Tory MP, warned last night: “Leicester East is a terrible warning of British politics dividing on communal lines - with the Conservatives becoming the party of India and Israel, and Labour that of Pakistan and Palestine. No good can come of it.” He is right.

July 05, 2024 08:55

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