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Record 18 Muslim MPs elected, majority women

27th Dec 2019
Record 18 Muslim MPs elected, majority women

Top row: Apsana Begum Lab, Tahir Ali Lab, Yasmin Qureshi Lab, Saqib Bhatti Con, Tulip Siddiq Lab, Sajid Javid Con | Middle Row: Khalid Mahmood Lab, Zarah Sultana Lab, Imran Hussain Con, Naz Shah Lab, Mohammad Yasin Lab, Nusrat Ghani Con. | Bottom Row: Rupa Huq Lab, Rehman Chishti Con, Rosena Allin-Khan Lab, Afzal Khan Lab, Shabana Mahmood Lab, Rushanara Ali Lab.  (Credit: Creative Commons)

Hamed Chapman

Muslim candidates won a record of 18 Parliamentary seats at this month’s General Election, three more than in 2017 but slightly less than expected as Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party scored a resounding 80 seat majority.

The number of successful Muslim candidates are spread over London, the South-East, the Midlands, North-West and North East, though none are in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. No less than 10 are Muslim women, including Apsana Begum, 29, in the safe Labour seat of Poplar and Limehouse, who is the first hijab-wearing MP.

Begum was endorsed by the left-wing group Momentum and nominated from an all-women shortlist.

The four additional Muslim MPs are among 19 from an ethnic minority background entering Parliament for the first time. Altogether 65 Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) MPs — 22 Conservative, 41 Labour and two Liberal Democrats — were elected to the 625 seat House of Commons, up from 52 two years ago. All are in English constituencies.

A breakdown of Prospective Parliamentary Candidates registered in the 2019 General Election found that the total number of Muslims standing went up to no less than 100, from 79 two years ago. They included 30 representing Labour, 21 standing for the Tories and 17 for the Liberal Democrats.

Muslims elected included 14 for Labour (up from 12) and four Conservative (up from three) but still none for the Liberal Democrats following a bigger than expected fallback in support for the two main opposition parties.

The figures show that Labour’s Faisal Rashid, first elected in 2017, was the only Muslim MP to lose his seat in Warrington South.

Those winning for the first time were Labour, Tahir Ali (city councillor) in Birmingham Hall Green, Zarah Sultana, 26, in Coventry South, Apsana Begum and Conservative, Saqib Bhatti in Meriden.

Ali was selected as the Hall Green candidate after incumbent Roger Godsiff was deselected by the Party’s National Executive Committee for supporting protests against LGBT-inclusive lessons. The campaign was marred by intimidation from Godsiff’s supporters, resulting in three police investigations, one arrest for malicious communications and police patrols outside polling stations. Nevertheless, Ali retained the seat with a sizeable majority. Ali vowed to “represent the whole of Hall Green and that includes voters who backed me, those who did not vote for me, and those who did not vote at all. I will represent everyone equally.”

Sultana won Coventry South, with a one per cent winning margin over the Conservative Party’s Mattie Heaven. The vote was so close it went to a recount. In her acceptance speech, the former West Midlands Labour Party office worker pledged to have “an unashamed commitment to take on the privileged few and transform society in the interests of the many.”
Afzal Khan MP, who comfortably held his seat in Manchester Gorton with over a 30,000 majority, told The Muslim News that while he was proud to be re-elected, it was disappointing that Labour experienced defeats across the country. “This election sadly was dominated by Brexit and ultimately, I feel this was the deciding factor for much of the electorate. However, as an Opposition we will restore the confidence of the British electorate by continuing our fight against rising inequality, intolerance and injustice in our society,” Khan said.

Other Labour MPs re-elected were Khalid Mahmood, the longest-serving Muslim MP since 2001, in Birmingham Perry; Rushanara Ali in Bethnal Green and Bow; Dr Rupa Huq in Ealing Central and Acton; Tulip Siddiq in Hampstead and Kilburn; Dr Rosena Allin-Khan in Tooting; Mohammad Yasin in Bedford; Yasmin Qureshi in Bolton South East; Imran Hussain in Bradford East and Shadow Minister of State for Diversity Naseem ‘Naz’ Shah in Bradford West.

Khalid Mahmood announced his bid to be Labour’s deputy leader on December 17. He joins potential candidates Barry Gardiner, Richard Burgon and Angela Rayner on the ticket.

The 58-year-old Shadow Foreign Minister said living and working in the West Midlands put him in the ideal place to win back lost voters and seats. “Since our Party’s election defeat, I’ve received many requests urging me to stand, so I’m throwing my hat in the ring,” said Mahmood.

“I represent a constituency in the West Midlands and as an engineer, I believe in reviving British manufacturing with hi-tech, so I know what people want. I’m not part of the metropolitan elite but in Birmingham, the workshop of Britain. I want to rebuild our country and the Labour Party.”

Rupa Huq, who held her seat with 51.3 per cent of the vote, expressed mixed feelings. “I feel exhilaration at our result here, tinged with sadness at the broader national picture. The first thing we’ll have to do is keep holding this rotten Government to account.

“I’m sad that we’re not going to have that transformational Labour Government with a manifesto of hope and change that we all campaigned so hard over. But we will keep holding Boris Johnson, the lying traitor, to account,” she said. Huq, who has held the seat since 2015, also said, “I still think we have the best possible policy regarding Brexit, which was a People’s Vote. It was a bad idea to bundle [Brexit] into a General Election because it gets contaminated with all sorts of issues.”

In Birmingham Ladywood, Shabana Mahmood was also returned to Parliament.
Mahmood, who was re-elected in the 2017 snap election, increasing her majority to over 80 per cent, one of the highest in the country, retained her seat with a slight decrease (3.52 per cent) to her substantial majority.

Mahmood urged the Labour Party not to indulge in a bitter blame game, and instead to work together to learn the lessons for the long term. On why Labour lost, writing in the Guardian with Labour MP Lucy Powell, Mahmood urged, “Our starting point for a Labour recovery can’t be to pick the things we like and blame the things that we don’t. Some want to say our defeat was all about Jeremy Corbyn, others that it was only Brexit. Both are wrong.”

“It’s clear that our losses were about both and much, much more. We must now undertake a real and meaningful review with everything on the table and no no-go areas. It must start from a place of humility which acknowledges Labour got it wrong rather than the voters, with a process that involves the whole of our movement, and those who feel we’ve left them behind.”

In addition to their new Muslim colleague Saqib Bhatti, 34, Tory MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Nusrat Ghani was re-elected in Wealden, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti in Gillingham and Rainham, as well as Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid in Bromsgrove.

Bhatti eased to victory in Meriden, the region’s largest seat after being selected to succeed Dame Caroline Spelman, who had stepped down after 22 years as the constituency MP.

Bhatti extended the majority he had inherited, clocking up more than 34,000 votes – well-ahead of his nearest rival, Labour’s Teresa Beddis, who polled around 11,500. Bhatti, the youngest President of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, becomes the first BAME MP to represent either Meriden or neighbouring Solihull.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Bhatti said, “There is no such thing as a safe seat, I came in and wanted to fight for every vote. We feel we have run a very strong campaign talking about hope and opportunity and priorities in the local area.”

After his Party’s victory, Johnson urged voters on all sides to heal the divisions of Brexit, saying it was time for closure in the three-year battle between Leave and Remain, supporters of the European Union, as he asked his rivals to help in forging a new relationship with the European Union.

2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS: DIVERSITY ANALYSIS

MUSLIM MPS

There are now 18 Muslims elected (8 per cent of Parliament), however that figure needs to double to represent the countries 4.8 per cent Muslim population.

10 of the 18 elected Muslim MPs are women, first three of whom were elected in 2010 (Shabana Mahmood, Rushanara Ali, Yasmin Qureshi all Labour).

Labour’s Faisal Rashid (Warington South) is the only Muslim MP to lose his seat. He was elected in 2017.

Apsana Begum – Labour (Poplar and Limehouse) made history as the first hijab wearing MP.

GENDER

There are now 220 female MPs, 12 from the previous Parliament – making up a third of the House, however, women make up 51 per cent of the UK population.

Labour is still the party with the highest number of women (107 – 51 per cent), despite losing 15. The Tories have gained 20 extra women taking the tally to 87 (24 per cent).

Tory-dominated south-west England has by far the highest proportion of male MPs (80 per cent), followed by Northern Ireland (78 per cent), while London – where Labour took 49 seats – almost achieved absolute parity with 49 per cent female representation. The north-east has the second-highest proportion of women MPs, 41 per cent of its 29 MPs.

BAME

This Parliament has also broken the record for the number of MPs from the ethnic background from 52 to 63.

Despite heavy losses, Labour remains the party with the most BAME MPs, increasing by seven to 39 members.

Overall, there are 63 BAME members – up from 52 in the 2017 election.

Non-white MPs now make up 9.5 per cent of Parliament, compared with the 19.5 per cent of the UK population who recorded as BAME.

Additional reporting by Elham Asaad Buaras

 

 

 

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