Written by 23:22 World

Labour Loses Votes in Muslim Areas Over Its Gaza Policy

The Labour Party has long been a natural home for most of Britain’s Muslim voters, but it has faced pushback over the war in Gaza. As the results of the election became clear, there was evidence the party had lost votes in areas with large Muslim populations, with at least four of its traditional seats going instead to candidates who offered an alternative to its Gaza policy and others coming close.

In the Leicester south constituency, Shockat Adam Patel, an independent candidate, declared, “This is for Gaza,” during his speech as he beat Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth — who had been expected to hold a cabinet role in Keir Starmer’s new government.

Many British Muslims, as well as other voters, had demanded that party leaders more vocally condemn the rising death toll and deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and want the new government to press Israel harder to reach an immediate cease-fire with Hamas.

In areas of Britain with large Muslim populations, Labour saw a notable slump in May’s local elections. The issue also contributed to a surprising Labour loss in a special election earlier this year.

In the run-up to the vote, experts noted the debate had mostly focused on domestic issues, and said the war in Gaza was unlikely to make a big difference in the result. Still, Paul Whiteley, a professor in the department of government at the University of Essex, said that for some supporters, Labour’s stance at times felt in opposition to its anti-colonial roots.

“The war in Gaza clashes very clearly with the historic commitment by Labour to anti-colonialism,” he said. “What’s happened now is that sympathy for the Palestinians has grown, and concerns about the behavior of Israel have grown in the party.”

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Last modified: 6 July 2024
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