UK Election 2024: Labour punished over Palestine by Muslim voters despite landslide victory

Labour’s landslide win in the UK general election has been overshadowed by significant losses to pro-Palestinian independent candidates who picked up shock wins. 

Five pro-Palestine Independent MPs clinched victories as the party lost significant seats in several constituencies with large Muslims populations.

Sir Keir Starmer is now British Prime Minister after Labour won 412 out of 650 parliamentary seats.

But Starmer’s overall vote share was actually lower than Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour result in 2019 and over 3 million fewer votes compared to 2017.

The party’s landslide owes more to the collapse of the Tory vote, much of which shifted to Nigel Farage’s ultra-right Reform Party.

Despite the exit poll showing it doing well, Reform ended with just four MPs, outnumbered by independents supporting Palestine. 

The Green Party, which attracted many Muslim voters and campaigned on a pro-Palestinian platform, also ended with 4 MPs.

BBC analysis shows Labour’s vote was down by an average of 11 points in areas where over 10% of the population identifies as Muslim.

High-profile casualties included shadow minister Jonathan Ashworth, who lost his Leicester South seat, despite its previous 22,000 majority, to Shockat Adam.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, running as an independent after his suspension from Labour, retained his seat by defeating the Labour candidate with over 7,000 votes.

In Ilford North, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting had a scare with his majority slashed from more than 9,000 to 528 by British-Palestinian independent candidate Leanne Mohamad.

Even Starmer’s constituency felt the pro-Palestine impact, with activist Andrew Feinstein coming second and halving Starmer’s majority.

Where Labour haemorrhaged Muslim support

Leicester South: Independent Shockat Adam unseated Labour shadow minister Jon Ashworth, declaring “this is for Gaza” after winning by 979 votes in a constituency where 30% of voters are Muslim.

Islington North: Independent Jeremy Corbyn won almost 50% of the vote in the London constituency he has represented for more than four decades. In a statement, Corbyn warned Starmer’s incoming Labour government “that dissent cannot be crushed without consequences”.

Blackburn: Adnan Hussain, a 34-year-old solicitor, narrowly defeated Labour incumbent Kate Hollern by 132 votes even though another pro-Palestinian candidate split the vote ‚ÄĒ showing the strength of feeling against Labour.

Dewsbury and Batley: Independent Iqbal Hussain Mohamed scored a decisive victory against Labour’s Heather Iqbal.

Birmingham Perry Barr: Labour’s Khalid Mahmood, who is associated with the right-wing Policy Exchange think tank, lost to independent Ayoub Khan by 507 votes.

While some Labour MPs held their seats, their majorities were significantly reduced:

  • Birmingham Ladywood: Shabana Mahmood’s majority fell from 33,355 to 3,421.
  • Birmingham Yardley: Jess Phillips, who previously quit the Labour frontbench to support a Gaza ceasefire, saw her majority cut from 13,141 to 693.
  • Bethnal Green and Stepney: Rushanara Ali’s majority of over 31,000 was slashed to 1,689.

Many other independents and pro-Gaza Workers Party candidates ran Labour figures close on the night.

Meanwhile, in Chingford and Woodford Green, Labour expelling former candidate Faiza Shaheen allowed Iain Duncan Smith to hold the seat for the Conservatives. Shaheen was the favourite to take the seat as a Labour candidate.

Labour’s stance on Gaza, particularly Starmer’s initial support for Israel’s blockade of essential supplies, has been the primary driver of declining Muslim support.

Despite a belated call for a ceasefire in February, the damage to Labour’s relationship with the Muslim community appears far from repaired.

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