Labour wins landslide victory but faces setback in Muslim-dominated areas

Labour wins landslide victory but faces setback in Muslim-dominated areas


Newly elected UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria Starmer are clapped in by staff as they enter his official London residence at No 10 Downing Street for the first time after the Labour Party won a landslide victory at the 2024 General Election, in London, Britain, July 5, 2024. — Reuters

LONDON: Britain’s new Prime Minister Keir Starmer has said the “sunlight of hope” is now shining in Britain again as Labour won a landslide UK election victory, bringing a crushing end to 14 years of Conservative rule, but several of its candidates lost to independent challengers campaigning on a pro-Palestine platform and nearly a dozen British-Pakistani Kashmiri newly elected Members of Parliament (MPs) had their majority margin reduced dangerously.

Across several constituencies with significant Muslim votes over Starmer’s support for Israel’s war on Gaza, Labour’s support has collapsed dealing a big blow to the party that has taken the Muslim vote for granted. However, the party’s overall landslide is unprecedented.

It was estimated that the British-Muslim voters could play a crucial role in around 100 constituencies including a majority of swing seats around the country and a record number of around 300 Muslim prospective parliamentary candidates, most of them Pakistan origin, were standing in elections on 4 July across the country.

Muslims in the UK number at around four million and their participation in general elections is considered as of crucial importance in many swing seats and also in the traditional Labour safe seats where dynamics have changed this time.

Following Pakistani-Kashmiri origin, Muslim politicians have either successfully defended their seats, lost their seats or won as first-time candidates, either party affiliated or independent.

Birmingham — Ladywood

Shabana Mahmood (Labour) is a high-profile British-Pakistani politician. The Oxford graduate was first elected on the Labour ticket in 2010 and has been winning ever since. She won the seat with 15,558 votes. Her main opponent was Akhmed Yaqoob on the independent ticket. He stood mainly on the Gaza issue and secured 12,137 votes.

Shabana had won the last election with a majority of 28,000 votes — 80% of the total votes cast — but this time she won with a majority of 3,421 only. She is part of Starmer’s core team that prepared Labour’s manifesto.

Birmingham — Perry Barr

Independent candidate Barrister Ayoub Khan has beaten Khalid Mahmood (Labour), the senior most British Pakistani parliamentarian who has been winning since 2001, to take the seat from Labour in a huge upset. 

Ayoub received 13,303 votes whereas Mahmood received 12,796, losing by a small margin. Ayoub has been a local councillor for several years and resigned from Liberal Democrats a few months ago.

Birmingham — Hall Green & Moseley

Tahir Ali has won the seat for Labour with 12,798 votes. He was first elected in 2019 with a whopping majority of more than 28,000.

His two main opponents were Barrister Mohammad Hafeez (independent) who got 6,159 votes and Shakeel Afsar (independent) who got 7,142 votes. Both were running on pro-Palestine platform. Labour could have lost this seat if both Hafeez and Afsar didn’t split each other’s votes.

Hafeez is a high-profile criminal law barrister who has also worked as a prosecutor for the UK’s Crime Prosecution Service (CPS). Interestingly, he was in the Labour Party till recently with his entire family and Starmer was also at the CPS till a few years ago. 

Hafeez quit the Labour party in solidarity with the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who has endorsed him in strong words. Afsar is a well-known local campaigner.

Bradford West

Naz Shah has won this seat for Labour with 11,724 votes, winning by just 707 votes. Muhammed Ali Islam, an independent candidate, followed with 11,017 votes. One of the highest profile Muslim and Pakistan origin parliamentarians since her election first in 2015 after beating George Galloway, Shah faced the main challenge from Ali Islam (independent) and Akeel Hussain (independent). 

The 21-year-old Ali Islam was elected councillor a few weeks ago in a local revolt against Labour and he received over 4,000 votes. Shah was targeted in this election too over the issue of Baradari, misogyny and the local Labour leaders supported independents against her.

Bradford East

Imran Hussain (Labour) has retained this seat with 14,098 votes. In the last elections, Hussain had received 27,825 votes but this time the runner up is Talat Sajawal (independent) who received 7,909 votes, coming second. 

Sajawal is a former Labour councillor who resigned recently over the issue of Gaza and stood against Hussain on pro-Gaza platform.

Bolton South and Walkden

Yasmin Qureshi (Labour) was first elected in 2010. She has been elected again but with a reduced majority of 15,093. Mohammed Afzal (Conservative) received 4,170 votes against her, Jack Khan (Workers Party) received over 4,000 votes and Reform received 8,530.

She had last won a majority of over 7,000 votes.

Coventry South

Activist and campaigner Zarah Sultana of Labour has won the seat with 20,361 votes. She was first elected in 2019 with a slim margin of 401 votes. The Tory runner up 10,160 votes.

London-Tooting

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Labour) is half-Pakistani and half-Polish. She won this seat for Labour with 29,209 votes. She was first elected in 2016 in a by-election when Sadiq Khan became London Mayor and resigned from his seat. The Tory runner up got 9722 votes.

Manchester-Rusholme

Afzal Khan (Labour) has been re-elected but with 15,054. He was first elected in 2017 in a by-election from Manchester Gorton. In the last general elections in 2019 Khan won with a majority of more than 30,000. His Conservative opponent got 1,678. The Green Party got 6,819.

Meriden and Solihull East

Saqib Bhatti (Conservative) has clung on to his seat with 16,792. The Labour candidate Sarah Alan got 12,208. He was first elected in 2019 from the safe Tory seat on a lead of 23,000 votes.

Sussex Weald

Nusrat Ghani (Conservative) has retained the seat with 16,758. She was first elected in 2015 from the safe Tory seat. In 2018, she became the first ever female Muslim minister to speak from the House of Commons dispatch box. The runner up from the Reform UK got 8,920 votes.

Bedford

Mohammad Yasin (Labour) retained this seat for Labour with 18,342 votes. He was first elected in 2017 from this seat, he had won from the same seat again in 2019 but with the thinnest of just 146 votes.

Glasgow South West — Scotland

Dr Zubir Ahmed has won on the Labour ticket from Glasgow South West with 15,552 — a seat where the party came within 60 votes of winning in 2017. The runner up from the Scottish National Party (SNP) received 12,267 votes.

Blackburn

Independent candidate Adnan Hussain, whose parents are from Gujarat, unseated Labour’s Kate Hollern in the northwestern ex-industrial town of Blackburn, in a sign that the Labour Party’s position on the war on Gaza proved divisive and disastrous amongst many voters. 

The solicitor managed to secure 10,518 votes, winning by a slim margin of just 132 to Hollern’s 10,386 votes. Former British ambassador Craig Murray, who also stood on a pro-Gaza platform for George Galloway’s Workers Party, came in third place with 7,105 votes. 

The seat in northwestern Blackburn had been represented by Labour for 69 years. The 34-year-old solicitor Hussain, who runs a local legal practice, stood on a pro-Gaza.

Gillingham and Rainham

Rehman Chishti lost the Tory seat to Labour’s Naushabah Khan who got 15,562. Chishti came second with 11,590. Both Naushabah and Chishti are of Pakistani origin. Chishti was first elected in 2010 and was one of the first Muslim member of parliament from the Conservative Party. Naushabah has served as a councillor in Medway council.

Dewsbury and Batley

Independent candidate Iqbal Mohamed, whose key focus areas include a ceasefire and peace agreement in Gaza, beat the Labour candidate Heather Iqbal, who is half-English and half-Pakistani. Mohamed received 15,641 votes, whereas, Iqbal received 8,707.

Leicester South

Labour frontbencher Jonathan Ashworth was unseated by an independent Shockat Adam in Leicester South. Ashworth, the shadow paymaster general who has made media appearances for the party during Labour’s election campaign, was defeated by Adam on the issue of Gaza. 

Adam’s main policies include “standing for global peace and justice”. Adam of Indian-Gujarati Muslim origin and has relatives in Pakistan is the younger brother of Ismael Patel who leads the group called “Friends of Al-Aqsa”.



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