Gaza conflict ranks amongst most important election issues for British Muslims

Credit: PA

The Labour Party faces threats from independent candidates in certain constituencies as more than four in ten British Muslims rank the conflict in Gaza as one of their five most important issues.

New polling done for Hyphen by Savanta found that of British Muslims who ranked the conflict of Gaza highly in their priorities, 86% say they would consider backing an independent candidate.

Labour’s support does however still remain high among British Muslims. They are the biggest party polling at 63%, with little change since the Autumn, but policy positions on the conflict in Gaza remains an issue that is influencing Muslim voters.

“Labour maintains a very strong level of support among Muslim voters, with little change in their vote share since the autumn, but that isn’t to say there aren’t warning signs for Keir Starmer’s party,” said Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta.

“There is a sense of disillusionment towards Labour’s response to the crisis in Gaza among those who rank it as a top 5 issue — although this number has been stable since the end of last year."

There are a handful of independent candidates standing on Gaza platforms across the country, primarily in constituencies with a high British Muslim population.

Although this is unlikely to impact the national results, they provide an interest subplot at the upcoming election.

Labour will hope the commitment to recognising a Palestinian state “as part of a peace process” will help to recover some of the ground lost to Muslim and progressive voters, many of whom have become disillusioned with the party’s foreign policy in recent months.

For 21% of Muslim voters the conflict in Gaza is the most important issue for them, compared to just 3% for non Muslims - demonstrating how much more of an issue it is for Muslims in the upcoming election.

Hyphen editor in chief, Burhan Wazir, said the poll findings confirm that Labour’s stance on Gaza has lost the party votes across the population.

“While Labour’s support among Muslim voters remains undeniably strong, the party’s responses to the conflict have definitely alienated some,” he said.

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The Labour Party vote share among British Muslims is down 23 percentage points of compared to the 2019 election but the party is broadly evening out support because there are a significant number of UK Muslims who voted Conservative in 2019 who say they intend on now voting for Labour.

For the Tories, almost half of their Muslim voters (48%) say they will change their voting intention, compared to only 28% for Labour and Keir Starmer’s party is winning over a large chunk of these voters.

Two in five Muslim Conservative voters saying they are likely to switch from the Tories to Labour at the next election.

But with the election being fought on a number of issues, it is no surprise that other policy areas were a priority for British Muslims.

UK Muslims are most likely to select the NHS (57%), inflation and the cost of living (51%), and the economy (48%) within their top five priorities.

The poll was put to a nationally representative sample of 2,862 respondents in the UK and the sample included 1,366 nationally representative UK Muslims and 1,496 nationally representative UK adults.

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