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‘New Pro-Palestine Muslim MPs are a Symbol of our Great democracy, not a Threat to it’

“Disgust at the callous indifference to the decades of suffering of the Palestinians by both main political parties led to the grassroots movement called The Muslim Vote”

Independent Muslim candidate Shockat Adam. Photo: Sky News
Independent Muslim candidate Shockat Adam announced “this is for Gaza” after winning his seat in Leicester South. Photo: Sky News

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Were you up for Truss? It was one of the seminal moments of Election Night, the felling of a one of the Conservative “big beasts”, a former Prime Minster no less, as the country went red.

However, earlier that evening another “big beast” from Labour also lost his seat which was as important as, if not more important that the losses from Liz Truss and co.

Jonathan Ashworth lost his seat in Leicester South to an independent Muslim candidate Shockat Adam, who was standing on a pro-Palestinian, anti-genocide ticket. In his impromptu victory speech he stated, “this is for Gaza”. 

This was a feat repeated in Blackburn, Birmingham and in Dewsbury & Batley. Indeed many others ran on a pro-Palestine ticket up and down the country. The seeds of this were sown many months previously following Keir Starmer’s comments in that infamous LBC interview where he asserted that Israel had the right to withhold fuel and water from the people of Gaza; such collective punishment has been denounced as illegal in international law and contravenes the  Geneva convention.

Newly elected Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer greets well-wishers as he arrives at his official London residence at No 10 Downing Street for the first time on July 5. Photo: PA Images / Alamy
Newly elected Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer greets well-wishers as he arrives at his official London residence at No 10 Downing Street for the first time on July 5. Photo: PA Images / Alamy

As a human rights barrister, he should have known better, but his desire to pander to pro-Israeli public opinion was clearly more important to him. Many in the Muslim community and beyond were horrified – did he just say that? For many this was a red line. Alea jacta est. As you sow, so shall you reap. 

The truth is that many people believe the Labour Party has supported Israel in its mass starvation of the people of Gaza, turned a blind eye to its war crimes and genocide.

Many people have repeatedly seen images and videos of dismembered children and been politically energised as a result. The same images and videos have been largely suppressed by western media in a pact of complicity with both major parties in a breathtaking display of hypocrisy and double standards when you compare and contrast the ease with which Starmer called out Russian aggression as war crimes

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It was this disgust at the callous indifference to the decades of suffering of the Palestinians by both main political parties that led to a grassroots movement called ‘The Muslim Vote’. This supported the resultant community-driven political energy which led to the election of such independent MPs.

You would think these were beautiful examples of our democracy in action where anyone can become an MP if they garner enough support. However, just like many Muslim candidates who succeeded on  a pro-Palestine ticket in the recent council elections, the success of these new MPs has been met with suspicion and fear from sections of the right wing press.

The Telegraph headlines ‘The terrifying pro-Palestine campaign that hurt Labour and threatens democracy , ‘Why the Muslim Vote campaign is a glimpse into a horrifying future’ and Jewish Chronicle headline, “This election makes Britain even more vulnerable to sanitise Islamism”, are typical of the not so subtle structural Islamophobia that rears its ugly head when Muslims engage in democracy.

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Expect to see more attacks decrying this new ‘identarian politics’ as showing that our democracy is broken when “foreign issues” are championed by people who don’t “share our values” and represent a “threat”. What greater values are there than those that oppose genocide?

In fact it is a case of damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Louise Casey, former Government Tsar on community cohesion referenced Blackburn as an example of “segregated” Muslim communities and recommended that they needed to integrate more in her report on integration.

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However, Blackburn has just elected its own pro-Palestine MP, a shining example of it integration into our democratic system of electing our representatives in Parliament.  

As Starmer basks in the glory of his landslide he may consider the election of a few pro-Palestine MPs as irrelevant in the grand scheme of things and nothing more than a minor jolt to the Labour juggernaut that swept him to power.

But many great things have small beginnings. The election of a few MPs is just the start. 


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