UK general election: British Muslims set to back Labour but frustrations over Gaza linger

UK general election: British Muslims set to back Labour but frustrations over Gaza linger
Many British Muslims have become disillusioned with the Labour Party over Keir Starmer's supposed support for Israel's war on Gaza.
3 min read
11 June, 2024
There has been a lot of anger in the British Muslim community over the main parties' stance on Gaza [Getty]

British Muslims are set to overwhelmingly back Labour in the upcoming UK elections, but anger over the leadership's handling of the war on Gaza and purge of pro-Palestine figures within the party still lingers, a new poll has found.

Savanta conducted the poll for the website Hyphen showing that two-in-three British Muslims will vote Labour in the election, following 14 years of Conservative government which has seen public services deteriorate, taxes rise, and living standards plummet, according to the opposition.

While Labour has a 51 percent lead among this contingent, the party saw a one percent drop in support from when polling was last conducted between 27 October to 3 November 2023, just weeks after the Israeli offensive on Gaza began.

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Labour's support among British Muslims has dropped significantly since the last election in 2019, when pro-Palestine MP Jeremy Corbyn led the party, when polls showed 80 percent of the Muslim vote going to the opposition.

The Conservative Party, whose government has strongly supported Israel, saw a loss of seven percentage points among British Muslims, with the Liberal Democrats increasing their share by two percent to become level with the Tories, both on 11 percent.

The Liberal Democrats have backed an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and said they would recognise a Palestinian state if elected.

Seven percent of British Muslims said they intended to vote for the Green Party, which has taken a more pro-Palestine stance than the larger parties, an increase of two percent.

'Others' also increased their share by two percent, which includes pro-Palestine independents, such as former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and candidates of MP George Galloway's Workers Party of Britain.

Although the cost of living crisis will likely dominate the electorate's concerns during the 4 July vote, UK Muslims are still focused on Israel's brutal assault on Gaza, which has killed around 37,200 people, the vast majority civilians. 

Four-in-five Muslims put Gaza in their top five election policy concerns while one-in-four said it will be their number one political consideration when casting their vote in July.

The vast majority saw the NHS (57 percent), the cost of living (51 percent), and the economy (48 percent) as top of their priorities, although four-in-five said they would consider voting for an independent in the election due to the war in Gaza.

Labour is set to release its manifesto on Thursday, with the possibility of recognising Palestine as part of its election pledges in a bid to ease tensions in the party after the suspension of Corbyn and other key pro-Palestine, left-wing figures.

Keir Starmer, who took over as Labour leader from Corbyn in 2019, was condemned for comments in October when he appeared to support Israel's complete siege on Gaza. He also said Labour would not unilaterally recognise Palestine, breaking from a pledge from the Corbyn-era.

His party also saw a major rebellion in November, when 56 MPs - including senior figures such as Afzal Khan - backed a SNP-sponsored motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.