British Muslim support for Labour falls drastically, according to new poll

ITV News' Shehab Khan sets out why this opinion poll will be important to all political leaders and parties ahead of a looming general election

The Labour Party's support amongst British Muslims has fallen drastically during this parliament, according to a new opinion poll, as criticism of the party's approach to the war in Gaza continues to grow.

Data produced by Survation and the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) has found support for the party from British Muslims has dropped. When asked at the last election, 86% say they voted Labour. When asked how they would currently, only 43% say they will definitely vote Labour again, with 23% undecided.

Of that undecided fraction some may vote Labour, not vote or vote for other parties but if those undecided voters vote in a similar proportion to everyone else it Labour's share of the British Muslim vote is at 60% - still a substantial fall.

The poll, which shows the drastic decline, has been described by senior Muslims within the party as "a crisis point" for the relationship between the British Muslim community and Labour.

It comes at a time of increase tension over the party's handling of the war in Gaza, with 38% of British Muslims polled saying their views of the party had become more unfavourable over the last 12 months.

In October, Keir Starmer caused controversy during an interview with LBC when he appeared to say that Israel had the right to withhold power and water from Gaza.

Several days later he reversed that position, only then to advise elected Labour representatives to not attend ceasefire protests.

When the issue came to a vote in parliament Labour MPs were instructed not to vote for a ceasefire which resulted in several members of his shadow cabinet resigning.

This polling suggests the party's policy towards the Middle East has had an impact of its favourability among the British Muslim community.

85% of British Muslims who were asked said the position of political parties on Israel-Palestine will be important in how they choose to vote at the upcoming general election.

One Labour source accused the leadership of being in denial of the impact it has had.

"The party's leadership doesn’t care and they're not engaging with British Muslims and takes their vote for granted. Losing a long-term voter base such as British Muslims will have long-term impacts on the Labour Party," they said.

Last week, The Guardian revealed the party has started running its own polls and focus groups as concerns had grown about the loss of support among Muslims.

 Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…

Multiple Labour MPs across the country are also preparing for the prospect of facing independent candidates in their constituencies at the next general election who are standing on the single issue of Gaza.

But one Labour MP said it's not just independent candidates they are concerned about, they felt they had been "outflanked by the Tories" on Gaza.

"It has been hugely disappointing, we told the leadership exactly what was happening and how our constituents were feeling about Gaza and they just weren't interested and now we can see that the Party is becoming toxic among the British Muslim community.

"We haven't been leading on this, we've been behind the government, copying their position after them" the MP said.

ITV News experienced the strength of feeling amongst the British Muslim community on this when reporting around the country last year.

When we visited MP Khalid Mahmood in his Birmingham Perry Barr constituency he told us he had at least 3,000 emails from constituents wanting to see a ceasefire.

"I've never seen this quantity of emails coming through my inbox and I've been a Member of Parliament now for Birmingham Perry Barr for 23 years," he told ITV News.

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood Credit: PA

But the Survation/LMN poll does give some Keir Starmer some positive news, his net personal approval rating amongst British Muslims, although at minus 11%, is significantly above that the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is at minus 77%.

The LMN, who comissioned the poll, said this could have an impact on the party's relationship with the community over the long term.

“For decades the Muslim community has been amongst the most loyal Labour supporters anywhere in the United Kingdom. The findings of this new opinion poll shows a startling collapse of this electoral and communal relationship.

"This is a crisis point for the future of the relationship between the British Muslim community and the Labour Party," they said in a statement.

The group which promotes British Muslim engagement with the Labour Party described the party's response to the war in Gaza as "unacceptable and deeply offensive to Muslims across Britain" and said if the party did not act it risked "losing the support of the Muslim community for a generation.”

Labour declined to comment.

Westminster Voting Intentions (Survation/LMN Poll):

  • Labour: 43% (-43)

  • Conservative: 6% (-4)

  • Liberal Democrat: 6% (+5)

  • SNP: 3% (+1)

  • Green: 10% (+9)

  • Other: 4% (+4)

  • Undecided: 23% (N/A)

*Changes shown are compared to 2021 Survation/LMN Poll conducted May 20 - June 4, 2021. Weighted total of 504. Changes are from "2019 General Election Vote share” which surveyed party vote shares from 2019 election: Labour (86%), Conservatives (10%), Lib Dems (1%), SNP (2%), Green (less than 1%).

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...