UK election: Muslim Vote responds to backlash over endorsing Labour candidates

The Muslim Vote has come under fire for endorsing some Labour Party candidates ahead of the upcoming General Election.

The group said it backed the Labour candidates – including Naz Shah, Afzal Khan and Yasmin Qureshi -who defied the party whip to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Though the majority of its endorsements have been for independent candidates, as well as those from smaller parties like the Workers Party of Britain, Liberal Democrats, and Greens, the Labour endorsements have drawn criticism.

Many believe that supporting any Labour candidate is unacceptable given the party’s position on the Gaza genocide.

After the backlash, the Muslim Vote released a statement saying it understood that many “strongly disagree” with its decision to back some Labour candidates and that the “decision was not taken lightly or without consultation.”

“If this election is primarily about the ceasefire, then just as much as we should punish those who did not vote for it, we should support those who did,” it said. 

“Otherwise, the message we send to politicians now and in the future is not a consistent one. This is self-defeating. Instead, we want to make it clear that loyalty to our causes – irrespective of your party or the whip – will win our support and opposition will lead to you losing it.” 

Launched in December 2023, The Muslim Vote aims to encourage Muslim political engagement and highlight the voting power of local Muslim communities.

It has been endorsed by organisations such as the Muslim Association of Britain, the Muslim Council of Scotland, the Muslim Council of Wales, and Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND).

Cutting ties with Labour

The Muslim Vote acknowledged the argument that for many voting for Labour is a vote for a party leadership that has “become ever more right wing” and has “undermined the Muslim community and our causes.”

“The proponents for this view make the case that we need to cut all ties with the party or else continue to be taken for granted. They make a compelling case,” it said.

But it also pointed out that removing all pro-Palestinian and pro-Muslim presence from both major parties could be “detrimental to the interests of the Muslim community locally and long term.”

To stike a balance, the group said it reviewed each candidate’s voting record on the ceasefire, their history of supporting relevant Muslim causes, local community views, and the national picture (whether moving against a candidate allows in an anti-Muslim or anti-Palestine candidate making things worse.)

It is said that this led to the endorsement of “a small handful of pro-ceasefire Labour MPs.” It accepts that it could have arrived at the wrong conclusion despite shura from various organisations, groups, communities and people.”

“As a campaign, everyone was happy whilst they were in agreement with us. However, now that there is serious legitimate disagreement, as a community, we have a choice. Do we aim for a unity of purpose or do we demand uniformity of views? Are we able to accept that there will be (strongly held) differences of opinion without claiming that those with the opposite view to us are sellouts, traitors or worse? Can we disagree without disuniting?” it said.

“These are not just rhetorical questions, but a call for a shift in the way we as a community deal with disagreements & each other. They will determine if we are going to unite as a community or splinter ever further.”

Here are just some of the responses to its statement:

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