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Friday July 19, 2024

Muslim vote may be decisive in most marginal UK constituencies, says think tank

Islam is the largest minority religion in 129 of them (58.6 per cent), according to the HJS: says Think tank

By News Report
June 23, 2024
A Muslim woman walks past a building with election posters on its walls. — AFP/File
A Muslim woman walks past a building with election posters on its walls. — AFP/File

LONDON: The British Muslim vote could play a crucial role in the majority of swing seats around the country, a new analysis has found.

Of the 220 most marginal seats in the general election, Islam is the largest minority religion in 129 of them (58.6 per cent), according to the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), a think tank.

The second largest minority religion in marginal seats is Hinduism in 23 of them (10.5 per cent), followed by Sikhism in six marginal seats (2.7 per cent), and Judaism in three (1.4 per cent).

The swing seats were identified by the political consultancy Electoral Calculus, which defines a marginal seat as one where the margin of victory is expected to be 10 per cent or less. The 220 marginal seats at the general election make up a third (33.8 per cent) of all available seats.

Martin Baxter, chief executive of Electoral Calculus, said that the results of their most recent MRP poll with Savanta found that religion is a “significant factor” in how people vote. “It is not the biggest factor in voting patterns, but there is a measurable correlation between someone’s religion and the way they vote,” he said. “It is one of the several things that influence people’s vote.”

Baxter added that other factors include age, education level, ethnicity, social class and previous voting pattern in elections and the EU referendum.

In the local elections earlier this year, dozens of candidates around the country ran on a Gaza ticket and defeated their Labour rivals.

Across the country, Labour votes plummeted in areas with a high Muslim population including Blackburn, Bradford, Pendle, Oldham and Manchester, where support for Sir Keir Starmer’s party dropped by an average of 25 points.

In Pendle, wards with Muslim populations higher than 10 per cent saw Labour support decline, on average, by 43 per cent. Meanwhile, those with smaller populations saw support surge by 15 per cent. In Blackburn, support in those Muslim areas fell by 35 per cent. Across all five areas, Muslim areas dropped support by at least 12 per cent. Several Labour candidates – including shadow cabinet minister Stephen Morgan – have promoted leaflets on social media, designed in the colours of the Palestinian flag, with their position on the Gaza conflict.