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British Muslim support for Labour plummets, shock poll finds

Labour support amongst British Muslims has plummeted, a bombshell opinion poll has revealed amid major concerns about Sir Keir Starmer’s handling of the Gaza war.

Backing for Labour from the Muslim community has fallen from 86 per cent to 60 per cent since the 2019 election, according to a new Survation survey.

Labour Muslim Network, which commissioned the poll, said it showed a “crisis point” for the party’s usually strong popularity among Muslim voters.

If undecided voters are included – although they were not in the comparable 2019 poll – then current support for Labour from British Muslims drops further to just 43 per cent.

It comes at a time of heightened tension over the party’s response to the war in Gaza, with 38 per cent of British Muslims saying their views of the party had become more unfavourable over the last 12 months.

“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 Labour’s Muslim Network said in a statement on Monday.

Keir Starmer visits South Wales Islamic Centre mosque in October (Labour Party)
Keir Starmer visits South Wales Islamic Centre mosque in October (Labour Party)

The group added: “The Labour leadership must change paths now or risk losing the support of the Muslim community for a generation.”

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, said the party’s position on a Gaza ceasefire had caused a lot of angry among his constituents. “I’ve never seen this quantity of emails coming through my inbox,” he told ITV News.

Sir Keir has faced huge pressure from the party’s grassroots left and pro-Palestine campaigners over his initial refusal to back an immediate ceasefire in the wake of the eruption of violence in October.

Ten frontbenchers also quit over his handling of the Gaza invasion which followed the Hamas terror attack which saw around 1,200 Israelis killed and 240 taken hostage.

In December, Sir Keir began calling for a “sustainable ceasefire”, as he and other leaders among Israel’s western allies began to move away from unqualified support for strikes on Gaza.

Mish Rahman, a left-wing Labour NEC member, told The Independent that there were other, wider factors at play for the loss of support. “These findings are deeply worrying but unsurprising. For months I have been alarmed by the Labour leadership’s willingness to turn a blind eye to Islamophobia within the party.

“Whether it’s the sheer disregard for Palestinian lives, the mistreatment of Muslim MPs like Apsana Begum and Zarah Sultana, or the refusal to take on bigots within their own ranks, it’s clear that the leadership is not taking this issue seriously.”

He added: “This poll should be a wake-up call to change course before it’s too late.”

Apsana Begum MP at the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign stand at the Labour conference (Palestinian Solidarity Campaign)
Apsana Begum MP at the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign stand at the Labour conference (Palestinian Solidarity Campaign)

Last week, Apsana Begum, the UK’s first and only hijab-wearing MP, criticised the Labour party’s leadership over severe delays with its internal probe into alleged harassment she experienced at the hands of her ex-husband, a fellow Labour politician.

The MP for Poplar and Limehouse, who is a Muslim, has accused her party of failing in its duty of care to her as she continues to await the outcome of the investigation almost three years later.

Ms Begum also noted what she described as “unresolved issues” regarding the treatment of Black and Asian people within the Labour Party as highlighted in the damning Forde Report.

The MP also said she has faced heightened Islamophobic abuse, death threats and risks to her safety. The Labour’s Muslim Network said: “The treatment of Apsana Begum is nothing short of a scandal”.

This comes as Kate Osamor, MP for Edmonton, was suspended from Labour earlier this week after referring to Israel’s attacks on Palestine as a “genocide”, language echoed in a recent assessment of the situation by the International Court of Justice.

Other Black and Asian Labour MPs have publicly criticised the party in recent times.

Last year, Diane Abbott said in a statement posted on X/Twitter: “As a Black woman, and someone on the left of the Labour Party, I have unfortunately been forced to reach the conclusion that I will not get a fair hearing from this Labour leadership.”

Ms Abbott, Britain’s first Black woman MP, now sits as an independent MP following her suspension from Labour pending an investigation into a letter she wrote about racism to the Observer last year.

Zarah Sultana, the MP for Coventry South, called for an Islamophobia probe within the party in November after slamming Sir Keir’s attack ads against Rishi Sunak for “playing on racist tropes of Asian men”.