Gaza war costing UK Labour Party vital Muslim votes, new poll indicates

Gaza war costing UK Labour Party vital Muslim votes, new poll indicates
A new poll has shown that British Muslim support for the UK's Labour Party has fallen by 26 points since the 2019 general election.
3 min read
05 February, 2024
Britain's Muslim community has shown strong support for Palestinians in Gaza amid Israel's war on the strip [Richard Baker/In Pictures/Getty-3 February 2024]

Support for the UK's Labour Party from British Muslims has tumbled since the 2019 general election, a new poll has revealed, in a sign Israel's war on Gaza could cost Western politicians valuable seats.

The survey, carried out by respected pollster Survation for the Labour Muslim Network (LMN), found that support for the party had fallen from 86 to 60 percent.

It also showed that an overwhelming majority - 85 percent - believe the position taken by British political leaders on the Israel-Palestine conflict will be very or somewhat important to influencing how they vote for at the next general election, expected later this year.

"For decades the Muslim community has been amongst the most loyal Labour supporters anywhere in the United Kingdom," LMN said in a statement.

"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."

The Survation poll, conducted from 18 January to 3 February, also revealed a small drop in British Muslim support for the ruling Conservative Party.

Eight percent said they would vote for the Conservatives in a general election held the following day, down from the 10 percent who cast their ballots for the party at the 2019 general election, although this is in-line with a dramatic drop in support for the party nationwide.

The general election data was collected in a 2021 survey in which participants recalled how they had voted.

Labour and its leader Keir Starmer have faced heavy criticism over their approach to Israel's war on Gaza.

The party has stopped short of backing an immediate ceasefire in the devastated Palestinian enclave.

In late January, Starmer said: "What is needed in Gaza is a humanitarian truce now, a sustainable ceasefire to stop the killing of innocent civilians, space for the return of all hostages, urgent humanitarian relief and a decisive step towards a two-state solution."

Three days later, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Israel was plausibly breaching the Genocide Convention in Gaza.

LMN, which describes itself as seeking to promote British Muslim engagement with Labour, said the party's response to Israel's campaign in Gaza, which has so far killed 27,365 people, has been "unacceptable" and "deeply offensive" to Muslims across the UK.

"Muslim voters have been watching and are now sending a clear message – they will not support any political party that does not fervently oppose the crimes committed against the people of Gaza," the group added.

"The Labour leadership must change paths now or risk losing the support of the Muslim community for a generation."

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The Survation poll found 49 percent of British Muslims now identify more with Labour than any other party, a drop of 23 points since 2021.

Primary identification with the Green Party rose to nine percent, while the Conservatives held steady – also at nine percent.

The survey showed five percent identify with the Liberal Democrats and three percent with the Scottish National Party, while 16 percent said they identified with none.

The poll also revealed that Labour's net favourability among British Muslims is down 21 points since 2021 to +21 percent. The Conservatives' rating fell 11 points to -50 percent.

Starmer's net favourability was lower than his party's, up four points since 2021 to -11 percent, while Conservative leader and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's favourability was at -58 percent.