As the results come in from yesterday’s general election and party leaders horse-trade to create a coalition government, an optimistic note that has struck in this election is the galvanization of Muslims at the polling booths and the increased number of Muslim MPs returned to the House.
The total number of Muslim MPs has doubled. Three female Muslim MPs have entered Parliament for the first time with the election of Yasmin Qureshi (Lab – Bolton South East), Shabana Mahmood (Lab – Birmingham Ladywood) and Rushanara Ali (Lab – Bethnal Green & Bow). All enter Parliament as Labour MPs.
Other new Muslim MPs are Sajid Javid (Cons – Bromsgrove) and Rehman Christi (Cons – Gillingham & Rainham), the first Conservative MPs, and Anas Sarwar (Lab – Glasgow Central) who successfully defended his father Mohammed Sarwar’s old constituency seat against Osama Saeed’s challenge from the Scottish National Party (SNP).
Incumbent MPs Sadiq Khan (Lab – Tooting) and Khalid Mahmood (Lab – Birmingham Perry Barr) hold on to their seats while Shahid Malik, former Communities minister, lost his seat in Dewsbury.
Salma Yaqoob, George Galloway and Abjol Miah running for Respect were all unsuccessful in their constituencies with Poplar and Limehouse returning Jim Fitzpatrick with an increased majority.
The 50 constituency seats which have the highest Muslim population density and in which ENGAGE’s Get Out and Vote campaign focused, are listed heretogether with details of election results and voter turnout.
Other interesting results:
Jack Straw, who recently apologized at an ENGAGE hustings event for comments he made on the burqa in 2006 retained his seat increasing his majority with a swing of 1.1% towards Labour.
Philip Hollobone, the Conservative MP who likened the burqa and niqab to the ‘the religious equivalent of going around with a paper bag over your head’, and is supportive of a ban, holds his seat in Kettering with a 9.4% swing from Labour to Conservative.
Mark Pritchard, the Conservative MP who spoke against Shari’ah councils in the UK claiming they damage social cohesion and advance a two tiered legal system, held on his constituency seat in The Wrekin.
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, which made a manifesto promise of banning the burqa and niqab in Britain, came in third in Buckingham where he garnered 17.4% of the vote.
Stewart Jackson, Conservative MP for Peterborough, who spoke of Afghan Muslim boys’ initiation ceremony including ‘raping and killing foreigners’ holds on to his seat with a slim swing from Labour to Conservative of 0.9%.
As the Conservatives and LibDem parties bargain over a coalition arrangement no doubt significant to negotiations will be the Lib Dem’s support for a proportional representation electoral system. Not a trivial matter given the huge disparity between the LibDem share of the vote and the actual number of seats won. And of course deeply relevant to the many voters whose votes have not been reflected in the first past the post electoral system’s constituency seat allocations.
But perhaps the most assuring outcome of the election is the all-round defeat of the British National Party which, despite being given unprecedented media coverage from the BBC Newsnight debate to Nick Griffin’s appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live last month, has failed to capture a single seat. After months of mayhem with EDL demonstrations outside mosques in the UK and an explicit anti-Muslim manifesto – the British public has proven itself above and beyond the hatemongering and immigration scaremongering of the BNP.