The Labor Party has long been a natural home for Britain’s mostly Muslim voters, but it has suffered a blow over the Gaza war. As the election results became clear, there was evidence that the party had lost votes in areas with large Muslim populations, with at least four of its traditional seats going to candidates who opposed its Gaza policy. Presented and others approached.

In the Leicester South constituency, Shaukat Adam Patel, an independent candidate, declared, “This is for Gaza,” during his speech as he defeated Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth — who had been expected to win. Kerr will play a cabinet role in Starmer’s new government.

Many British Muslims, As well as other votersdemanded that party leaders more vocally condemn the mounting casualties and deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and called on the new government to press Israel for an immediate ceasefire with Hamas.

In areas of the UK with large Muslim populations, Labor lost significantly in May’s local elections. The issue also contributed to Labour’s staggering loss. A special election earlier this year.

During the vote, experts noted that the debate focused mostly on domestic issues, and said the outcome of the war in Gaza was unlikely to make a big difference. Still, Paul Whitley, professor of government at the University of Essex, said that for some supporters, Labour’s stance sometimes felt at odds with its anti-colonial roots.

“The war in Gaza is very clearly a clash with Labour’s historic commitment to anti-colonialism,” he said. “What has happened now is that sympathy for the Palestinians has increased, and there has been increased concern in the party about Israel’s behavior.”

Since becoming Labor leader in 2020, Mr Starmer has worked hard to distance the party from previous allegations of antisemitism within the party’s hard left, including Toppling former party leader Jeremy Corbyn. After the Hamas-led attacks on October 7 that triggered Israel’s ground offensive on Gaza, Mr Starmer largely matched the Conservative government’s support for Israel.

By February, after thousands of civilian casualties and labor unrest in Gaza, Mr Starmer began to move towards advocating an immediate ceasefire. Weeks later, conservatives also withdrew their support. A US-backed proposal For an immediate end to the fighting and the release of the hostages in Gaza.

Protesters waved a sign for Keir Starmer and the Labor Party on London’s Westminster Bridge this month. Labour’s stance on Israel has alienated some of its…Henri Nicolas/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Mr Starmer’s move was seen by some as too little, too late. This Labor cost a parliamentary seat in Rochdale in northern England, where George GallowayA hard-left brand won a special election in February after appealing to Muslim voters, who make up about 30 percent of the electorate there. Several party legislators Leave policy obligations too. Protest against the party’s stance on Gaza.

Mr Starmer has sought to reassure the left wing of his party, saying in May that he was committed to recognizing an independent Palestinian state, but that it must be as part of a peace process with Israel. This is generally the same view as that of the conservative-led administration and the Biden administration, both of which have resisted calls for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. As three European countries did last month..

Labor activists before general elections Campaigned in more than a dozen Muslim areas.

On election day in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets, where nearly 40 percent of the population identified themselves as Muslim. 2021 Censusa campaign truck across the Whitechapel polling station repeatedly played a recording saying, “To vote Labor is to vote for genocide.”

nearby Tab Ali Park – named after a young Bangladeshi man who was Killed by racists In 1978 – Omar Zahid said he intended to vote for an independent candidate after voting Labor all his life. He cited a number of reasons, including Mr Starmer’s recent comments. About Bangladeshi immigrantsbut also said that his local Labor legislator, Roshanara AliHe was disappointed by his voting record in the Gaza war.

“I sent him an email as a concerned constituency, and I just got a general response,” said Mr. Zahid, a research fellow at the Global Policy Institute. “Then when we got his voting record, he abstained from the ceasefire and he voted against four more motions.”

Ms. Ali could not be reached for comment, but she said in a recent Statement On social media, “I have fought and will always fight for the Palestinian cause.” She managed to retain her seat with 34.1 percent of the votes in her constituency, down from 39.4 percent in the previous election. But his opponent, an independent candidate, took 30.5 percent of the votes.

About 6.5% of the population in England and Wales Identify as a Muslim.As per 2021 census. Although there is no unified “Muslim vote” – preferences are often split across race, region and more – 80 per cent of Muslim voters nationally voted Labor at the last election, according to Professor Whitley.

Some activists have made efforts to strengthen the voting bloc. Muslim Vote, an independent advocacy group Emphasizing various policies including ceasefire Gaza And a slate of proposed candidates emerged for Muslim voters to recognize a Palestinian state.

But with Labor leading the government, Britain’s stance on Gaza is unlikely to change significantly, analysts say.

“They’re really singing from the same hymn sheet – they’re not divided on it,” Professor Whitley said of Labor and Conservative incumbents. “This is why the current policy will likely continue under the next government.”

Joel Peterson Cooperation reporting.

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