The ‘Muslim Vote’ – Does it exist?

No vote should be taken for granted.

survey by ComRes and think tank Theos suggested that 35% of Muslims may vote Labour, the Conservatives 13% and the Liberal Democrats 15%.

Received wisdom states that the many sections of the Muslim community have traditionally been a heartland for the Labour Party. Can the Labour Party take the ‘Muslim vote’ for granted, and is there such a thing as a ‘Muslim vote’ anyway?

It may have been the case in 2004: with the Iraq War still dominating the political agenda, an ICM poll of British Muslims suggested that 41% of British Muslims supported the Liberal Democrats, 31% supported Labour and 16% supported the Conservatives.

But these numbers did not indicate that a Muslim block vote was in play. The Iraq War was certainly the main factor in unseating the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, but had no impact in Blackburn, the constituency of the then foreign secretary and an area with many Muslims.

Given that we face one of the toughest political contests we have witnessed for some time, are we to assume that British Muslims will only vote along confessional lines this time round?

Not necessarily.

Part of the election process is for all Britons, including Muslims, to fully engage in assessing their prospective parliamentary candidate, prising real and accountable promises from them.

It may not be about communal interests either. The faith can inform the moral agency to vote for a party that they believe will seek the common good of all, regardless of faith.

In this, the Muslim voter, like any other Briton, may well make discerning choices of which their ‘Muslim identity’, if ever there was one, is only a part of a menu of considerations.