UK election warning on Gaza vote for Anthony Albanese

A Savanta poll last month found that 44 per cent of UK Muslim voters ranked the conflict as one of the top five issues and, of those, 86 per cent said they would consider backing an independent running on the issue.


Labour was aware of the risk, instructing volunteers and campaigners in some seats with more than 10 per cent Muslim populations to campaign locally instead of travelling to target seats. Meanwhile, “The Muslim Vote” campaign called on voters to pick pro-Palestine candidates running as independents or from smaller parties.

Labour’s shadow cabinet minister Jonathan Ashworth was lost his Leicester South seat to an independent running on a pro-Palestine ticket by just 979 votes. The seat has a 35 per cent Muslim population.

Shockat Adam, the independent who stood against Ashworth, said his win was “an indication to those who have been in power for so long that you cannot forget the people that you serve”.

“This is for the people of Gaza,” he said, holding up a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf at the end of his acceptance speech on winning.

In Blackburn, Labour’s Kate Hollern lost by fewer than 200 votes to the independent Adnan Hussain.

Pro-Gaza independents also won in Blackburn, and Dewsbury & Batley, both of which have roughly 45 per cent Muslim populations, beating Labour into second.

New Health Secretary Wes Streeting and prominent Labour backbencher Jess Phillips both won their seats by a hair’s breadth against pro-Palestinian opponents. Streeting won a majority of just 528, while Phillips won a majority of 693.

Phillips, who was shouted at and heckled during her victory speech, including chants of “shame on you” and “free Palestine”, spoke of the intimidation her campaign faced and said the election has been “the worst” she has ever stood in.

Leicester South MP winner Independent candidate Shockat Adam holds up the Palestinian keffiyeh as he celebrates. “This is for Gaza.”

Leicester South MP winner Independent candidate Shockat Adam holds up the Palestinian keffiyeh as he celebrates. “This is for Gaza.”

She told the BBC that Gaza was a “massive issue” in the constituency but said she was also caught in a “pincer” because of the increased vote for Reform UK.

Pro-Palestine candidates came second to Labour in at least seven seats, including Slough, Oldham West, Rochdale, Burnley, Walsall and Bloxwich, and Birmingham Hodge Hill.

Starmer had been criticised by many traditional Labour supporters for only gradually shifting the party’s position towards supporting a ceasefire in Gaza. His reluctance to change stance led to 10 frontbenchers quitting in November, including Phillips.

It is now a warning that Australian Labor ignores at its peril, as it faces fierce contests with the Greens, who are campaigning fiercely on the issue, in inner suburban Melbourne such as Wills and Batman. An alliance of Muslim candidates also actively considering standing against Labor MPs in seats throughout western Sydney.

John McTernan, a former adviser to both former UK prime minister Tony Blair and Australian prime minister Julia Gillard tweeted in the early hours: “Labour need to take the votes lost over Gaza as seriously as we took the loss of red wall.”

Taj Ali, the co-editor of Tribune magazine, and historian of British South Asian political activism, said it was not just Muslim voters that care about Gaza, and it’s not just Gaza that Muslims voters care about.

“One thing that was underestimated in this election was the power of TikTok and WhatsApp groups,” he says. “So many young people have been politicised and are making their voices heard.”

Ali also said it was “dog whistle racism” to accuse British Muslims taking part in the electoral process as “sectarianism” for expressing their right to vote and stand for parliament.

After Labour faced significant council losses in Muslim areas in the local elections in May, Starmer said explicitly he was committed to recognising a Palestinian state as part of a peace process — however many in his left flank feel he should have gone further by withdrawing support for Israel and backing an end to arms sales.

Abubakr Nanabawa, co-ordinator for The Muslim Vote, said in areas where Muslim voters were presented with strong alternative candidates, the community rallied behind them.

“They sent a clear message to the Labour Party that their votes can no longer be taken for granted”.

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