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Vote for the future of our country

29th Nov 2019
Vote for the future of our country

Boris Johnson wants Britain to leave the European Union at virtually any price, even apparently without any deal. Jo Swinson insists that in the unlikely scenario she is the next prime minister she will unilaterally revoke Article 50 mechanism to stop the country withdrawing from the world’s largest trading bloc. Jeremy Corbyn is convinced that he can negotiate a more beneficial Brexit before putting the decision back to the people to decide whether to accept it or to remain in the EU in a legally-binding referendum.

Three different choices face the British public in perhaps the most important general election in a lifetime, the result of which could affect generations to come. More than three years on, everyone is sick and tired of hearing the word Brexit while the integrity of many MPs has plummeted into the gutter. Regardless of how odious the issue has become, it still needs resolving in the best way, for the good of the country and not just the loudest activists or those seeking to gain the most. Some of the consequence will be felt for decades.

A blessing in disguise from the impasse in failing to leave the EU is that so many matters of contention have come to the surface, exposing monumental untruths expressed about Brexit. The majority of people are likely to be in a much better position to cast their vote in a meaningful way depending upon which side of the argument they fall or even if they have changed sides in the fiercely contested debate that had divided communities even families.

The election is also much more broad with funding for hospitals, schools, police and housing also becoming priority issues. In addition, each party has its own emphasis on what ought to be done. The opportunity of going to the polls is the best time to ensure that politicians make clear their pledges and keep them as the chance many not come along again for another five years. Often though it is necessary to read between the lines of manifestos with often so much left unfulfilled.

The Muslims News has interviewed the leaders of the three main parties, raising issues that are also relevant to the Muslim community. Each was challenged on how representative they are. Labour still leads with 13 to 14 Muslim MPs expected to be elected or re-elected despite being behind in the opinion polls. The Tories could gain two resulting with five MPs, while the Lib Dems could see their first two Muslim MPs elected. The details of all Muslim candidates and their chances of winning comprehensively illustrated on page 7.

On concerns like the violent clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir, all three leaders seem unaware that the clampdown is not directly related to the dispute between Pakistan and India, but instead is due to Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s far-right nationalist Government and his unilateral decision to strip autonomy from the Kashmir and illegally remove its special status. It is worrying that such an effective power grab with human rights abuses appears to have created such little interest, as well as generic statements like deploring violence (Johnson), having dialogue to find a way to a peaceful outcome (Swinson) and stating that human rights of all the people in Kashmir must be respected. (Corbyn.)

On Israel, Johnson avoided the issue of any possibility of imposing sanctions over its continual land-seizure to build more and more illegal settlements and continuing to occupy Palestinian land. Corbyn suggested sanctions could be imposed on the importation of settlement goods as well as arms sales. Swinson was non-committal but seemed to favour recognising the state of Palestine to get parties back to the negotiating table.

Regarding the discredited Prevent Extremism programme, the Lib Dem Leader voiced support for a proper independent review, saying that it needed to be scrapped and replaced with something entirely new. The Opposition Labour Leader suggested it was better to look at the process of inclusion, understanding and education rather than Prevent, which had such unfortunate side-effects like making young Muslims in schools feel unfairly targeted. The Prime Minister conceded that Prevent had never been brilliant, adding that it was wrong to see Islam through the prism of terrorism. Under pressure he did concede the importance of seeing if he could do something more sensible.

There was a bigger contrast on the approach to dealing with Islamophobia with both Labour and the Lib Dems accepting the definition proposed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, while the Tories are seeking their own. Johnson himself has been criticised about some of his own comments and has been accused of watering down his own pledge to hold an inquiry into the extent of Islamophobia within his party’s ranks.

It cannot be emphasised how essential it is that everyone casts their ballot in what appears to be a highly unpredictable election with many expected to vote tactically as well. Whichever party wins (and realistically it can only be either Labour or the Tories in Britain’s first-past-the-post system.) Brexit is likely to take years to resolve despite what some leaders may say. It could even take longer to start the healing system to bring the country back together again and perhaps it is equally a vital election issue.

Should the elections result in yet another hung Parliament and this seems quite probable, the outcome should not be spurned or summarily dismissed. What is important is that politicians must cease their tribalism and learn to collaborate for the good of the country and not their vested interests. It does not need to be so confrontational. Many ideas can so often be better than one, especially in an atmosphere of cooperation and compromise.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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