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May 06, 2005

Disaster for Muslim candidates - only four elected

Only four Muslims were elected to the House of Commons. The three main political parties fielded 48 Muslim candidates at the general elections, most in unwinnable seats, and altogether a record 74 Muslim candidates stood for elections. There should be at least 20 Muslims in the House of Commons to reflect its population.

“Whilst welcoming the election of two more Muslim MPs, this reflects the lack of commitment by the three political parties select Muslims in winnable seats,” said Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi.

In response to the heavy losses incurred by Labour, he said: “As we rightly predicted in our editorial in last Friday issue of The Muslim News, Muslim votes would be crucial in the outcome of the general election. This has happened across the country where Muslim voters voted against Labour Party due to their policies in Iraq and its anti-terror legislation.”

All four, Shahid Malik in Dewsbury, Sadiq Khan in Tooting and the two returning MPs, Mohammad Sarwar in Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow, and Khalid Mahmood in Birmingham’s Perry Barr, are from the Labour Party.

Even though the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats fielded more Muslim candidates, 15 and 21 respectively, none were elected to the Parliament.

However, the two new Muslim candidates, Khan and Malik suffered from a national backlash against the Iraq war.

Khan won with a reduced majority of 5,500, while also seeing off a challenge Ali Zaidi standing for the anti-war Respect Coalition.

Malik, the only Muslim member of Labour’s National Executive Committee, defeated the Conservative Leader, Michael Howard’s Community Adviser, Sayeeda Warsi, by over 4,600 votes, down from 7,449 in the first Muslim head-to-head between the two main parties.

Sarwar won a third consecutive victory by with a more comfortable 8,500 majority in his redrawn constituency after becoming Britain’s first Muslim MP in 1997.

Mahmood, who was first elected in 2001, won a further term by gaining a fairly similar 8,000 majority over a Lib Dem challenge, from the Tories, which has put forward its own Muslim candidate, Naweed Khan and from Mohammad Naseem, selected by Respect Coalition.

However, Labour’s Yasmin Qureshi, who hoped to win back Brent East in London for her Party, which it lost in an anti-war by-election in 2003, failed by over 2,500 votes to unseat the Lib Dem’s youngest MP Sarah Teather.

The best Muslim performance was Respect candidate Salma Yaqoob, standing in Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath, the most concentrated Muslim constituency, who was seeking to become the first woman MP to enter the House of Commons wearing a hijab. Yaqoob gained a 25 per cent swing against Labour but just failed to overturn the sitting MP, Roger Godsiff’s large majority of more than
16,000.

In gaining 10,498 votes, she overtook challenges from both the Tories and Lib Dems, which respectively fielded their own Muslim candidates, Sameer Mirza and Talib Hussein.

A major disappointment for the Tories was the failure by Ali Miraj to become the Party’s first Muslim MP by failing to gain a 6 per cent swing to defeat Labour MP Claire Ward in Watford. Instead Miraj was overtaken in second place by Lib Dem candidate Sal Brinton, who achieved a 13 per cent swing to cut Ward's majority to just over 1,000 votes.

Lib Dems Muslim candidates were placed in unenviable unwinnable seats. However, one of them made a major dent. Ayoub Khan gained a 20 per cent swing by reducing the majority held by the former International Development Secretary, Clare Short, from 18,000 to 6,801.

For further information contact us on 020 7608 2822 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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