Advocacy group issues list for Labour to win back Muslim voters

A Muslim advocacy group has issued 18 demands to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer so the party can regain support from the community, especially over its stance on Israel’s attacks in Gaza.

The Muslim Vote is a broad collective backed by dozens of UK Muslim organisations. It wants to mobilise voters against MPs who didn’t back a ceasefire in Gaza.

The list comes days after the Muslim Council of Britain said the local election results served as a wake-up call for politicians over their response to the violence in Gaza.

The key demands relate to the Palestinian issue. The group wanta Starmer to apologise for initially backing Israeli actions, support sanctions on companies operating in West Bank settlements, recognise Palestinian statehood and cut military ties with Israel. 

Other requests include allowing prayer in schools and making Shariah-compliant student loans and pensions more available. 

Starmer’s position on Israel’s attacks on Gaza has been the biggest driver of declining Muslim support for Labour.

Initially, Starmer backed Israel’s decision to cut off Gaza’s water, electricity and food supplies. He quickly walked back on those comments after a backlash but fell short of calling for a ceasefire. 

But in February, Labour finally called for an immediate ceasefire but that has still not repaired the damage with the Muslim community. 

“A wake-up call to all parties”

Labour’s campaign chief Pat McFadden acknowledged the party’s position on the Gaza conflict cost it support in the local elections.

The fallout was evident in Oldham, where Labour lost its 13-year majority after defections last month over its approach to Gaza. 

MCB secretary general Zara Mohammed said the local elections were “a wake-up call to all parties.”

“Politicians can’t take anyone for granted, especially not British Muslims,” said Mohammed.

“The dissatisfaction with politicians is palpable, and the response to the atrocities in Gaza is only the tip of the iceberg. Instead of respectful and meaningful dialogue, British Muslims face a political culture dominated by ideologues silencing their voices, questioning their intentions or having their views filtered through acceptable gatekeepers.”

Mohammed said that even though Muslims “exercised their British values by taking part in our democracy”, they still face demonisation. 

“This was demonstrated in recent days with a Labour source allegedly smearing voters in the West Midlands, and Nigel Farage describing British Muslims who vote as ‘sectarian’,” she added. 

 “All political parties must come out strongly against such extremism, especially as we now look forward to the General Elections.

“We congratulate all of those elected, we hope they will strive to bring communities together and create a more inclusive culture of politics.”


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