BY Alison Bellamy
Labour has traditionally been the ‘safe’ option for many British Muslim voters. Dating back to the 1960s when Labour’s policies were historically pro-immigration, it became the obvious choice for many.
But recent times have seen a flurry of British Muslims, particularly the younger voters, opting for the Conservative Party. And as reported by Asian Sunday in our last issue, the British Asian vote was predicted by many to be a key demographic in determining many vital seats of power in these elections.
Political expert Dr Andrew Mycock, senior politics lecturer at University of Huddersfield, said the 2016 elections had perhaps been a ‘confusing’ time for some voters, as there had been so many different elections held at the same time.
Dr Mycock said: “Overall, I think Labour will be relieved that there has not been a complete meltdown, considering they are in opposition. I think they may well have seen a two or three per cent increase in votes. In reality, the figure they needed for complete confidence was probably closer to 15 per cent, if they wanted confirmation they could win the next election.
“In the north of England, Labour has defended their stronghold in larger cities like Manchester and Liverpool. And, with the success of Sadiq Khan in the London Mayoral elections, I believe Labour has enough to stitch together a success story.
“Of course the poor result for Labour in Scotland is disappointing for them, as they now become the third party.
Dr Mycock also commented that the anti-semitism row which rocked Labour a couple of weeks ago, did not appear to have caused lasting damage, according to the local election results. He said: “Across England overall I don’t think there has been much of an issue, but in Prestwich, Bury, an out and out ‘red’ Labour area, they have lost two seats and almost lost a third. This result alone would suggest some reaction from the large Jewish community. I don’t think this applies nationally, where the Jewish community is significant, but not big enough enough to make an impact.”
The investigations into actions of Bradford MP Naz Shah and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone are underway. Ms Shah was suspended by the Labour party over ‘anti-Semitic’ comments she made before she was an MP. Jeremy Corbyn called the comments ‘offensive and unacceptable’, and restated that ‘The Labour Party is implacably opposed to anti-Semitism and all forms of racism’.
Dr Mycock said that following the 2016 elections, all political parties will claim they have had a good result, but will perhaps be disappointed on closer inspection.
“For the Conservatives, losing the London Mayor position is a massive blow,” he added.
“There was a concentrated assault on the character of Sadiq Khan picking on the fact he is a Muslim, and claims that he had links to extremism. It really says something about British politics when it comes to this. In my opinion, the onslaught has been distasteful and possibly damaging for the Conservatives.”