Research by The Muslim News indicates that Muslims helped Labour win 8 seats from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats by voting Labour in unprecedented numbers in the May General Elections.
In constituencies where Muslims are more than 10% of the total population – 81 seats in total – there is a positive correlation between the size of the Muslim population and an increase in the Conservative to Labour swing.
In the 81 seats the Conservative to Labour swing was, on average, a remarkable 4.3%, compared to the national average of 0.3%.
Further research showed a positive correlation between the Muslim population and increase of Labour’s share. On average the increase on Labour’s share in the 81 seats was 8.3% compared to 1.4% nationally.
However, the results indicate that Muslims who voted Conservative in 2010 continued to vote Conservative in 2015.
In December 2014, The Muslim News published a detailed statistical analysis of seats Muslims could influence. Out of the 40 that the stats indicated Muslims could influence, 13 were (then) not held by Labour. In the elections Labour managed to win eight of those seats.
Labour won Birmingham Yardley (Muslim population of 20.6%), Bradford East (36.9%) and Brent Central (21.2%) from the Liberal Democrats. While Brentford & Isleworth (12.5%), Dewsbury (18.5%), Ealing CentralActon (13.4%) Enfield North (13.4) were won from the Conservatives. The surprise victory was when Labour’s Naz Shah unseated the Respect Party’s George Galloway in Bradford West (51.3%).
Overall, out of the 11 seats that Labour won from the Conservatives, five had a large Muslim population.
The number of Muslims in Scotland is too small to make a measureable difference to the result there. But a poll by British Future indicated that 2% of Muslims voted for the SNP.
Labour’s successful campaign played a role but the mood music could not be ignored. Muslims tend to live in urban areas, are younger, come from immigrant backgrounds and are an ethnic and religious minority. People from these socio-economic backgrounds tend to be Labour voters.
However, the Muslim swing to Labour was higher than the average swing to Labour in urban areas.
London is a good benchmark as it shares the same socio-economic background as Muslim.
In London the Conservative to Labour swing was 3.5%, lower than 4.3% in the 81 seats. While the increase of Labour’s share was also lower – 7% compared to 8.3% in the 81 constituencies.
This indicates that Muslims swung to the Labour more than groups from similar socio-economic background.
Labour’s success was down to offering a better program of policies, and better politics overall, than the Conservatives. It also publically invested more to woo Muslim voters.
Labour’s stance on Palestine played a huge role. Ed Miliband calling Israel’s actions in Gaza “disproportionate” during the war on Gaza in 2014 was symbolic. Followed up with a Parliamentary vote on Palestinian statehood helped neutralise the damage done by Iraq.
This was critical in winning over Muslims who voted Liberal Democrat and Respect in 2010. They were angry at Labour’s foreign policy and its neglect of the suffering of the Palestinians.
Labour’s policy on Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, making them aggravated offences, helped the perception that Labour understands Muslim concerns.
Over the past 24 months both Islamophobic attacks, against mosques and Muslim women in particular, and hostile press from the tabloids have increased. Labour’s strong policy was aimed to quell this fear. (Anti-Semitism has also, regrettably, increased in the past 12 months).
The strategy worked better in the 40 seats where Muslims could have an influence. There the swing to Labour was 4.9% and Labour’s vote share increased by 10.2%.
“Tell me one reason why I should have trusted [Ed] Miliband and [Ed] Balls on the economy,” said Hussain Billi, an economics graduate and budding entrepreneur.
His sentiment was echoed by Mustapha Sikafi, a trainee doctor, “We pay too much taxes, we study for years, work long hours and at the end of the day we have more than 40% of it in taxes.”
The Conservative’s social outlook also appeals. Muhammed Al-Alami, dentist and father, “I voted Conservative because I like how they treat the family as the foundation of society.”
However, the Tories did not help themselves in the short campaign. Constant negative messages about Muslims did not help change the Tories’toxic image among Muslims.
Home Secretary, Theresa May, threatened to close down mosques if “extremists” gather there.
While Sajid Javid, then the Culture Secretary now Business Secretary, said Muslim communities in parts of Britain have a ‘cultural’ problem that allows women to be viewed as commodities.
Overall UKIP did worse in the areas where Muslims reside than the rest of the UK. In the 81 constituencies above UKIP’s share increased by 7.7%. This is less than the increase of 9.5% that UKIP enjoyed nationwide.
In the 40 seats where Muslims could have an impact the UKIP increase of the vote was 7.2%.
However, bearing in mind that Muslims tend to live in urban areas, both figures are higher than UKIP’s increase in our benchmark urban result, London. UKIP’s increase of its share in London was 6%.
Further investigation of the figures indicate that there is no correlation between an increase of the number of Muslims and an increase, or decrease, of UKIP’s share of the vote.
5% of the Muslim population voted for the Green Party, according to British Future. This is higher than the 4% who voted for the Green Party nationwide.
This is in line with ethnic minorities in general, 5% of whom voted for the Green party.