‘Labour leads on Muslim issues, Tories & Lib Dems lag far behind’

December 05, 2019

LONDON: Britain’s leading Muslim organisation — the Muslim Council of Britain — has said in a research report that the Labour Party leads on key Muslim issues while Liberal...

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LONDON: Britain’s leading Muslim organisation — the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) — has said in a research report that the Labour Party leads on key Muslim issues while Liberal Democrats and Conservatives lag far behind.

In the research report, the MCB has judged each major party’s manifesto against the priorities and concerns of their members from Muslim communities across the UK.

On ten key pledges, the Labour manifesto achieved a “Pass” on nine out of the ten, the Liberal Democrats achieved a 50 per cent pass rate, and the Conservatives did not achieve a “Pass” on a single one of the policy areas, but were recognised as making progress on various issues.

Tackling racism and Islamophobia is understandably one of the top concerns for British Muslims, but other areas such as health, criminal justice and education feature prominently in the MCB’s election pledges. The commitments were formed after detailed surveys and focus groups of MCB affiliates and amongst Muslim communities.

MCB Secretary General, Harun Khan, said: “We want British Muslims’ key concerns — some of which are unique to them but many of which are universal — to be acknowledged and represented across political divides.

“Rather than being a party political issue, we would hope that all parties can agree to policies like working against Islamophobia, protecting health and elderly care, creating equality in education and revitalising our criminal justice system.

“Currently, Labour Party policies are 90 per cent aligned with those pledges from Muslim communities, but we want to see a world where Muslims can vote for whoever they are politically inclined towards.

“The failure of the Conservative Party to tackle the structural Islamophobia within its ranks appears to be only one of the many concerns Muslim communities are likely to have with the Party, which may lead conservative-leaning Muslim voters to cast their ballot for someone else.”

Muslim groups have called on the leading political parties to adopt the All Parties Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims definition of Islamophobia across the UK, defining Islamophobia as being rooted in racism and as a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness; defend the right of Muslims – and people of all faiths – to express their faith, be that in religious clothing, food and reasonable accommodation of religious observance; commit to proactively engage with a broad and representative spectrum of British Muslim communities to ensure a plurality of views are being considered; safeguard visitors at places of worship, by providing support and funding for any Muslim institutions to implement safety measures, in line with other faith groups; encourage the resettlement of refugees across the UK, working with communities to address and tackle issues faced by refugees resettling in Britain.

Political parties have been called on to enhance democracy by enabling increased participation of minorities and women in politics and public life, addressing the underlying socio-economic challenges in place; address the disparity of treatment and outcomes for BAME people within the criminal justice system. Rebuild trust with Muslim communities by ensuring all counter-terror legislation is evidence-led, non-discriminatory, and open to evaluation; and ensure a fair approach to educational provision for all children, with a syllabus that reflects the diversity of communities, with appropriate parent involvement.

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