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Exclusive: Muslim candidate numbers fall

26th May 2017
Exclusive: Muslim candidate numbers fall

Hamed Chapman

A total of 79 Muslims are standing as Prospective Parliamentary Candidates at the General Election in June 8. They are spread across the country in 66 different constituencies, including at 10 where at least two of the runners are Muslim. In Bradford West, there are as many as four Muslim candidates contesting for the same seat and at Ilford South three.

Overall the numbers are down on the record 94 who stood in 2015 and is in line with an overall fall in the total number of candidates dropping to 3,300 candidates from 3,631 at the previous General Election. On a party basis, the Tories fielding only nine Muslim candidates as opposed to 19 in 2015 and the Lib Dems putting up 14 against 24 two years ago. Of the three main parties, only Labour has increased the number of its Muslim candidates from 22 to 24.

1992- 2017

Those standing include all 13 incumbent Muslim MPs seeking re-election with the distinctive prospect of one or two losing their seats. On the other hand, Muslim candidates have also been placed in other winnable and targeted seats. Much is seen depending on national swings as well as local campaigning on who will be elected in one of the most crucial elections for decades
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A breakdown of the figures show that no less than 33 % of the aspiring Muslim entrants are women, even higher than the record high of 29 % of all candidates. Such was the scale of success of Muslim women at the last election when they numbered a staggering nine out of the 13 who were elected. These included some rare jewels, especially for Labour and its gross underperformance overall two years ago.

LONDON AREA

With opinion polls suggesting a landslide Conservative victory, it will be difficult for all the Muslim Labour MPs to retain their seats. This will be particularly the case for Rupa Huq to hand on to her minuscule 274 vote majority surprisingly gained at Ealing Central & Acton for Labour in 2015 and now being the Tories number two target seat. The task is no easier for her party colleague Tulip Siddiq in the Tories number 11 target seat at Hampstead & Kilburn, where she is defending a majority of just over a thousand.

The situation could also be challenging for Rosena Allin-Khan, who successfully increased Sadiq Khan’s majority at Tooting after he stepped down to become London Mayor last year. Based on the 2015 election result, it is being listed as the Tories target seat number 24, when some are predicting the Tories could win up to 50 Labour seats if current polls are to be believed.

On paper, it would seem to be a much easier task for the fourth Labour seat held by a Muslim woman in London with Rushanara Ali defending a comfortable 24,317 majority in Bethnal Green & Bow. Being one of the largest Muslim and ethnically diverse constituencies in the country, she is being challenged by broadcaster Ajmal Masroor standing as an independent after previously representing the Lib Dem, when he gained second place in 2010.

Elsewhere in London, Amna Ahmad has perhaps the best chance so far of becoming the first Muslim Lib Dem MP for Sutton & Cheam. It is a seat formerly held by the party and is listed as their number 11 target. The Oxford graduate is seeking a 4 % swing to overturn a 3,921 majority held by Tory Paul Scully. But she is not being helped by UKIP deliberately not fielding a candidate since the incumbent MP campaigned for a Leave vote in the 2016 EU referendum.

Over in Ealing North, Humaira Sanders is standing for the Lib Dems but in what is Labour stronghold. In Feltham & Heston, the party is fielding Hina Malik in another safe seat held by Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Seema Malhotra. In the same constituency, Samir Jassal has been named as the Tory candidate but again is seen as having virtually little chance of being elected in what is only the party’s 115th target seat.

On the other side of London, the only other Lib Dem Muslim candidate is Farid Ahmed contesting Ilford South held by Labour’s Mike Gape, a regular Muslim target being one of the most outspoken pro-Israel MPs in Parliament. Others opposing him included Tariq Saeed standing for UKIP and Kane Khan from the recently formed Friends Party, who are also fielding two other candidates in East London.

The Friends Party’s other candidates are Shahahandria Khan, who is opposing Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, in Hackney North & Stoke Newington and Choudhry Afzal standing in East Ham, another Labour’s safe seat held by Stephen Timms. In the same constituency, Mirza Rahman is running as an independent among a dozen or so other Muslims in various seats.

In Beckenham, Marina Ahmad has put her name forward for the second time as Labour’s candidate but faces the daunting task of trying to overturn a Tory majority of nearly 20,000. For the second time, Bilal Mahmood is standing for Labour in Chingford & Woodford Green against former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and is looking to further cut back his nearly 8,000 majority. A similar situation is faced by Imran Uddin in tackling the 13,000 majority held to the Tory Stephen Hammond in Wimbledon. Likewise, Ibrahim Dogus also for Labour is challenging a Tory 10,000 majority in the Cities of London and Westminster constituency.

In Carshalton & Wallington, Labour candidate Emine Ibrahim is fighting from third place in a seat narrowly held by the Lib Dems with the Tories on their heels. Adding to the mix Shasha Khan is standing there for the Green Party. Among others in the capital, Rashid Nix is one of three other Muslim Greens in Dulwich & West Norwood, another Labour stronghold. His colleague Benali Hamdache is contesting Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, in Islington South & Finsbury, while Kate Hoey’s safe seat in Vauxhall is being challenged by Gulnar Hasnain.

Other independent Muslim candidates include Dale Kalamazad in Hackney South & Shoreditch and Oliur Rahman competing against Labour’s Jim Fitzpatrick in Poplar & Limehouse. Another, Abdullah Dharamsey, could play a role in Westminster North, a Labour seat target for the Tories. Similarly, UKIP candidate Sabriye Warsame may influence the outcome in Hendon, which is a Tory seat with Labour running close.

Such is the diversity of allegiances other fringe parties with Muslim candidates include Sellu Aminata standing for the Workers Revolutionary Party in Camberwell & Peckhamand Nimco Ali for Women Women’s Equality Party contesting Hornsey & Wood Green, a Labour seat.

 

SOUTH EAST ENGLAND

Around the south-east, Rehman Chishti in Gillingham & Rainham and Nusrat Ghani in Wealden are defending sizeable Tory majorities of more than 10,000 and over 22,000 respectively. Beyond a seismic change, both are expected to comfortably retain their seats but prospects elsewhere in the region look difficult. The main exception is Mohammad Yasin standing for Labour in Bedford, his party’s 13th target seat, needing just a 1.19% swing to take the seat from the Tories.

In Welwyn Hatfield, Anawar Miah needs to virtually double Labour’s 13,000 votes at the last election to defeat the Tory candidate, while his colleague Rafiq Raja is seeking a similar huge swing to overturn a 15,000 majority in Wycombe. Of almost similar magnitude, their colleague Rumal Abdullah Khan is seeking to overturn a Tory majority of more than 10,000 votes in Portsmouth North.

Daunting tasks also in the south-east are faced by Tahir Maher in Milton Keynes South and Shazu Miah in Wyre Forest. Both Lib-Dem candidates are contesting their seats from 4th and 5th place respectively in Tory seats. Two independent Muslim candidates are also standing, Abid Ali in Luton South and Hassan Akberali in Woking, while in Chelmsford Reza Hossain is representing the Greens.

 

MIDLANDS

In the Midlands, former Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, is expected to retain his seat in Bromsgrove, which he first won back in 2010, having a comfortable majority of 16,529. Likewise, Labour’s Khalid Mahmood is likely to be elected for the fifth time at Birmingham Perry Barr as is Shabana Mahmood in Birmingham Ladywood which she first won in 2010 after Clare Short stepped down.

Muslim candidates standing elsewhere in Birmingham face much more daunting tasks, including Ahmereen Reza standing as a Conservative at Hodge Hill together with Mohammed Gultasab Khan for UKIP in what is a Labour stronghold. In Yardley, Mohammed Afzal is contesting the seat for the Tories from 4th place in what was a Labour gain at the last election from the Lib Dems. As part of the mix, Abu Nowshed is also standing in the constituency as an Independent.

Muslim Lib Dems standing in the region include Zuffar Haq at Harborough in what is a Tory stronghold seat. In Solihull, Ade Adeyemo is seeking to win back the constituency for the Lib Dems after it was captured by the Tories in 2015 but has a massive 13,000 vote deficit to overcome. Elsewhere, there are two Muslims standing as independents, Afzal Mahmood in Coventry North East and Tariq Mahmood in Grantham & Stamford.

In South Leicestershire, Shabbir Aslam is standing for Labour from second place but again has a massive 17,000 Tory majority to overcome.

NORTHERN ENGLAND

In the North of England, the three Muslim Labour MPs all have comfortable majorities, Yasmin Qureshi in Bolton South East, Imran Hussein in Bradford East as well as Naz Shah in Bradford West. Shah though faces challenges from no less than three other Muslim candidates. Hussain Khadim and Muhammad Hijazi are both standing as independents, so is Salma Yaqoob, the former Respect Party Leader.

In Manchester Gorton, Afzal Khan looks set to add to the list of Labour seats held by Muslim candidates, replacing the late Gerald Kaufman and the 24,000 majority he held. With more of an outside chance, Faisal Rashid is standing in Warrington South hoping to overturn a majority of less than 3,000 held by the Tories in what is Labour’s target seat number 21.

In Sheffield Central hopes are being pinned on Lib Deb candidate Shaffaq Mohammed by party leader Tim Farron in a seat where he is battling from fourth place but seeking to regain how close the Lib Dems came to taking the seat from Labour in 2010. Other Lib Dem candidates, Ednan Hussain in Dewsbury, Irfan Ahmed in Blackburn, Zulfiqar Ali in Huddersfield and Dawud Islam in Middlesbrough are also battling from low places.

In Oldham East & Saddleworth, Kashif Ali standing for the Tories must also be having a more than an outside chance of battling Labour’s 6,000 majority in what is their party’s 63rd target seat. In Denton & Reddish, the Tories are also second to Labour but Rozila Kana would have to overturn a majority of 10,000 to win the seat. Elsewhere in the North, Muzafar Rahman is standing for the Social Democrats in Sheffield, Brightside & Hillsborough, while in Wakefield, Waj Ali is contesting the seat as an independent.

 

SOUTH WEST & WALES

In Wales, Natasha Asghar is seen having an outside chance in standing as a Tory in Newport East constituency with a 6.7 % swing required in what is the party’s target seat number 60. Adding to the permutations, Nadeem Ahmed is also standing in the constituency as an independent. Elsewhere Mohammed Sarul-Islam is representing UKIP in Cardiff Central. The only Muslim standing in south-west England is Labour’s Imtiyaz Shaikh in Devizes, but faces a large Tory majority and is battling from third place.

 

SCOTLAND

After becoming the first Muslim candidate to win a seat in Parliament for the SNP, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh is seen comfortable defending a 10,168 majority in Ochi & South Perthshire. In Edinburgh South West, Foysol Choudhury is seeking to win back the seat previously held by former Labour Chancellor, Alistair Darling, but needs to overturn an 8,000 SNP majority. To add further Muslim interest, Aisha Mir is also standing in the seat as for the Lib Dems. In Glasgow Central, Faten Hameed is also seeking to regain the seat held by Anas Sarwar but again faces a 7,000 SNP majority to overturn.

2017 GENERAL ELECTION: Muslim prospective parliamentary candidate

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