Muslims are organised and motivated like never before to impact the General Election

A Muslim Vote event in Birmingham. Pic: The Muslim Vote.

The British Muslim community is making an unprecedented attempt to organise ahead of the General Election on July 4 with the intention of punishing the traditional parties, and especially Labour, through their bloc vote, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.

Over the past few months the momentum within the Muslim community has been growing to ensure that Muslim voices are heard at the highest levels of politics.

It all started with George Galloway’s extraordinary March win in the Rochdale by-election which was thanks to local Muslims self-organising in alliance with Galloway’s own political know-how.

This was followed by a number of independent Muslim candidates around the country, such as Akhmed Yakoob in Birmingham, Muhammad Akunjee and Leanne Mohamad in London, and many others, announcing that they would stand for parliament in seats occupied by problematic incumbents or appeasers of genocide.

And then we have seen the launch of The Muslim Vote organisation which held an event in Birmingham on Saturday which I attended. Around 200 people from all around the nation were present, many of whom were influential figures within their own local communities.

As in the Rochdale by-election, they were all mainly motivated by the desire to organise a Muslim bloc vote essentially to punish the Tories and Labour (especially Labour) for supporting Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

And most attendees I spoke to seemed to have a steely determination to make sure that the four million strong Muslim community in the UK makes its voice heard like never before.

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Core messages

Speakers at the event included prominent members of the community such as MEND’s Sufyan Ismail, Islamic Finance Guru’s Ibrahim Khan, Anas Tikriti from the Muslim Association of Britain and the podcaster Muhammad Jalal.

The core messages from the conference organisers were that we must be united, organised and co-ordinated to deliver an effective bloc vote on July 4.

And we will do this by educating the community, mobilising at a grassroots level and media level and gathering data to make the best candidate recommendations possible.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer.
Editorial credit: Rupert Rivett /

For too long, speakers argued, we have traded a seat at the table for compromising our values. But engagement at high levels does not equate to influence, and the access that we have been granted has not been for our sake or to our advantage.

The goal, delegates said, is to cause disruption to the two-party monopoly at this election and to “get noticed” so that power brokers start listening to our concerns. And essentially we will do this by backing independents and third parties or perhaps not voting at all.

Candidates will be judged around their policy pledges first and foremost on core areas such as Islamophobia, discrimination in education, employment, healthcare, policing, the justice system, the Prevent strategy and the protection of legitimate activism.

In terms of what we can realistically achieve, speakers said that we could swing around 40-60 seats which means that we cannot stop Keir Starmer from becoming Prime Minister but we can drastically reduce his majority and make him a weak leader.

But it’s not just about this election, speakers emphasised. It’s about long-term thinking to increase our influence in this country way into the future. We should not expect to be kingmakers in this election but that should definitely be our goal in elections to come.

My impressions 

My general feeling about the Muslim vote campaign is a positive one. And I say that as somebody who has reported on the Muslim vote for more than 20 years and who has always felt that (apart from some isolated victories for George Galloway) the Muslim vote has been over-egged somewhat.

But this time I am seeing an unprecedented level of self-organisation on the ground, as well as direction from The Muslim Vote organisation, which I have not seen before. And this gives me real hope that we will see some big wins in this election in several constituencies, and bigger wins to come in future elections.

That said, many obstacles lie in our way – some out of our control and some self-inflicted.

Firstly, there are still many Labour loyalists in our community who would probably keep supporting Labour even if a Keir Starmer government invaded Kashmir. Clear and direct conversations need to be had with these people with the aim of cutting our community’s umbilical cord with this genocide-supporting party.

Also, I do fear that The Muslim Vote organisation itself is sending out mixed messages to the community. I was really dismayed to see them endorsing Labour’s Sadiq Khan in the recent London Mayoral Elections on the basis of the “lesser of two evils” argument. I think this is incredibly short-sighted and exactly the kind of tactics that will keep our community beholden to this party of genocide.

I also think The Muslim Vote’s hands-off approach to George Galloway’s Rochdale campaign when the entire local community was backing it was somewhat tone-deaf.

But these are minor concerns compared to my overall feeling of optimism. Although that optimism needs to be turned into action at a grassroots level, through mosques, through media and influencers and events.

The stakes are high and we cannot fail. If we don’t succeed this time when Gaza is the ultimate motivation we will be a laughing stock and will never be taken seriously at high political levels again. So in short, the entire community needs to mobilise around this campaign. No excuses.

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