Muslim votes put Tory Islamophobia in the spotlight for crucial marginal seats

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Fréa Lockley

The Muslim Engagement & Development (MEND) advocacy organisation has released important information about 50 marginal seats. As it notes, “50 seats in a ‘hung parliament’ could prove critical”, and Muslim votes are significant in these areas.

MEND has asked all the political parties to respond to a request for policies to tackle Islamophobia. The results could be crucial to secure support from Muslim voters.

Muslim voters could “hold the balance of power”

As MEND stated in a press release:

From the current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in Uxbridge and South Ruislip to former Conservative Party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, in Chingford and Woodford Green, there are several marginals where Muslim voters could well hold the balance of power.

Data released by MEND established that “the results of up to 50 seats across the country could be swung by Muslim voters”. As it noted, these also include:

Kensington in London (majority of 20, from previous election), Dewsbury in West Yorkshire (majority of 3,321), and Pendle in Lancashire (majority of 1,279) amongst others. 50 seats in a ‘hung parliament’ could prove critical.

Islamophobia

Significantly, some former MPs in marginal seats “have a track record of engaging in or endorsing Islamophobic sentiments or conduct”.

MEND identified:

  • Zac Goldsmith (Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for Richmond Park, majority of 45). Goldsmith “was accused of running an Islamophobic campaign against Sadiq Khan in the 2016 Mayoral race”.
  • Bob Blackman (Conservative PPC for Harrow East, majority of 1,757). Blackman “was accused of endorsing Islamophobia after posting an anti-Muslim article on his Facebook page in 2018”. 
  • Henry Smith (Conservative PPC for Crawley, majority of 2,457). Smith “faced criticism after suggesting that there was no Islamophobia in the Conservative Party due to Sajid Javid being a Muslim”.
‘Muslim Manifesto’

MEND has produced a ‘Muslim Manifesto’. This contains a series of “Policy Pledges” on a series of important issues such as:

tackling Islamophobic bullying in our schools, ending Islamophobic discrimination in the workplace and reducing hate crime on our streets.  

MEND has contacted the main political parties to ask which of the Policy Pledges they will sign up to. It stressed that:

It is expected that the Party supporting the greatest number of pledges will harness the greatest share of the crucial Muslim vote, especially in swing seats.

MEND’s CEO Dr Shazad Amin stated:

No one can dictate how individuals will vote but it’s clear that many Muslims have strong views on issues such as the growth and normalisation of Islamophobia in the UK. To influence Government policies to tackle this, it is vital that Muslims are engaged in the political process and vote for parties and candidates that support our policy pledges. Our ‘Get Out And Vote’ website helps Muslim voters do this in an informed and intelligent way.

Tory Islamophobia

So far, the Conservative Party is the only mainstream party not to have adopted the definition of Islamophobia of the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. At the party’s 2019 conference, meanwhile, attendees defended Islamophobic comments during a panel discussion.

As The Canary‘s Ed Sykes reported, the Muslim community:

has consistently called for official inquiries into Tory Islamophobia. Party leader Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has faced much criticism for his own Islamophobic comments. He also has close allies with alleged links with anti-Muslim organisations. So it’s little surprise that his government has consistently delayed plans to investigate the crisis.

Featured image via Wikimedia

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