I even know that not bothering to vote is stupid, as it will amplify the votes of others, and some of these votes will be going to parties pushing anti-Muslim agendas. But despite my ‘getting’ these key points, I’m still stuck. Why? Because I’m not sure as to which candidate I should be voting for.
I know of course this is my choice to make. I know, in theory, I should study the policies of both the candidate as well as the party they represent and then decide which one appeals most.
But I am a typical British Muslim who lacks the time and inclination for all this hard work. If truth be told politics is actually very boring, and I would rather watch paint dry than read a party manifesto.
What I really need is someone to tell me up front which candidate to vote for in two words, and I will in turn, give two minutes of my day on Thursday 6th May to mark a cross against their name at the ballot box. Simple.
Well perhaps for most of us this approach will work. And there are Muslim organisations out there, such as BMI, You Elect and MPAC recommending which candidate to vote for, or not as the case may be, in seats with a high concentration of Muslim voters.
However, for many of us who happen not to live in these seats, or who are sad enough to actually, shock horror, be interested in politics, what are the factors to consider?
Well, there are quite a few and they are complex. At the risk of oversimplifying the key issues are firstly to know each party’s main manifesto commitments (on civil liberties, combating Islamophobia and foreign policy for example). Secondly, you need to get to know the individual candidates and their personalities, as some of these characters will not always toe the party line, and will put principle above party loyalty.
Finally, tactical voting also needs to be considered, as under our first-past-the-post system, most seats will only have one or two candidates able to realistically win, hence a vote for any other party would be wasted.
Having gone through all these points, one key issue needs to always be kept in mind.
The recent BNP announcement to ban halal meat in Britain is the latest symptom of an infectious and rapidly spreading European cancer, which has already shown alarming symptoms such as the French/Swiss niqab/minaret ban respectively.
The most effective solution is for European Muslims to rebut the bogus arguments behind these ill-advised policies head on by engaging constructively with their wider societies, and the best way of engaging is to get involved in the political process. British Muslims are uniquely placed to lead this response.
So to get out and vote on 6th May, is not merely a question of choosing an MP, it is a vital part of the battle to remove a disease which threatens our kids future.
And the Almighty knows best.
By Hamna Ismail – http://www.getoutandvote.info
The above article is the final instalment in a three part series featured on the above website.