Labour at risk of losing half of their Muslim vote

Written by Aliba Haque (Researcher)
Published January 28, 2022

Ongoing inaction on Islamophobia reveals consequential impact on the Muslim vote in next general election.

Edited on 29/01/22


Muslim Census conducted this study via an online survey that was shared across our multiple social media channels.  The survey gathered a total of 1,042 responses between the 23rd – 26th January 2022. These responses were obtained through the following routes:

  • Twitter – 678
  • Whatsapp – 202 
  • Linkedin – 63
  • Instagram – 45
  • Direct survey access – 54

Gathering responses through our social media channels meant that our sample was not entirely random as we relied on our existing following. As such, considerations of access to the internet, knowledge of Muslim Census as an organisation and various language barriers, amongst others, were not accounted for. Ultimately, this means that our sample was not representative of the entire British Muslim population but rather, it was a representative sample of a portion of the British Muslim population from whom Muslim Census was able to obtain responses from. 

Muslims from London and within the 18-24 age group were overrepresented in our sample. To reduce the impact of this overrepresentation, Muslim Census weighted the sample, in accordance with the 2011 UK Census, to better reflect age and location demographics. 

However, despite these limitations within the data, we do believe that our survey provides an insight into how a proportion of the British Muslim electorate currently feel about the current political landscape and we believe these results are am important statistic that should be acknowledged.

Following the recent revelation that Nus Ghani MP was allegedly sacked from her role as Transport Minister due to her perceived “Muslimness”, the conversation around Islamophobia has once again become front and centre. The news comes off the back of a long list of events and studies that have shown the apparent apathy towards tackling Islamophobia within the Government.

With this backdrop, Muslim Census conducted a survey to understand the voting intentions of Muslims living in the UK. The online survey was published between 23 – 26 January 2022 and gathered responses from 1,042 Muslims living in the UK.

We asked respondents to share who they voted for in the 2019 general election, who they would vote for if there was to be an election tomorrow alongside their opinions on how well Islamophobia is being dealt with by the Government and opposition. The results were then weighted by age and location to reflect the demographic splits of the British Muslim community, in accordance with the 2011 UK Census.

Result of the poll:

Who would you vote for if there was an Election tomorrow? (Number in brackets shows difference from 2019 General Election)

Labour – 38% (-40)
Undecided – 19%
Will not vote – 18% (+10)
Green Party – 8% (+7)
Liberal Democrats – 4% (+1)
SNP – 3% (-1)
Conservatives – 2% (-1)
Other – 8% (+5)

These findings strongly suggest that Muslim voters feel misrepresented and alienated by the main political parties. With the Conservatives holding just 2% of the Muslim vote meanwhile Labour is at risk of losing over half of their Muslim vote compared to previous elections.

Labour losing the Muslim vote

Labour has long remained the party of choice for the overwhelming majority of Muslim voters.  

According to the Runnymede report, Ethnic Minorities at the 2017 British General Election, 87% of Muslims voted Labour. Yet, as shown by Labour Muslim Network, concerns of Islamophobia and the treatment of Muslim members within the party are on the rise; over half of Muslim Labour members ‘do not trust the party to tackle Islamophobia’. 

Our results show that 78% of Muslim voters opted for Labour in the 2019 general election, however this drops to 38% when asked about their voting habits should a general election occur tomorrow. Keir Starmer’s party are at risk of losing 55% of their regular Muslim vote. If this were to play out, the consequences could be substantial. Although Muslims make up just 4.4% of the UK population, they have a considerable impact on the political system.

Of those who would not vote Labour again, 1 in 4 would switch to a different party – travelling largely to the Green Party or the Liberal Democrats. The remaining 3 out of 4 Labour leavers said that they would either abstain from voting entirely or are completely undecided.

The reasons for this striking drop are diverse – respondents cited a general feeling of misrepresentation, that Labour turned a blind eye to Islamophobia within the Party’s ranks and disbelief in Keir Starmer’s ability as a leader. Ultimately, many Muslim voters feel let down and alienated by Labour or excluded from the political process.

Disengagement of young people 

A worrying finding from our survey is the disengagement of young Muslims with the current political system. 1 in 4 Muslims aged 18-24 state that if there were an election tomorrow, they would not vote entirely. A further 19% are undecided on who to vote for. It appears that young Muslims are left feeling as though their only option is to abstain entirely to ‘make a point’. 

A majority of the responses from young Muslims highlighted similar concerns: “All the current parties are deeply islamophobic. I do not find myself to be politically represented anywhere. I’d rather make a statement not voting than vote for a party that will harm my community further” – Response 109

In the 2019 general election, young people in the UK had the lowest turnout rate of any other age group. Should this continue, we may see one of the lowest turnout rates amongst young people in the next election.

Unanimous feeling on Islamophobia within the government

Over 9 in 10 Muslims feel that Islamophobia is not appropriately dealt with by the current Government.

Islamophobia continues to remain one of the most widespread forms of prejudice in the UK,  given the evidence that 92% of Muslims believe that Islamophobia exists with the Government. The Hope not Hate study showcased real cause for concern within the Conservative Party with 58% of members believing that ‘there are no go areas in Britain where Sharia law dominates and non-Muslims cannot enter’.

Though it was Nus Ghani and the presence of Islamophobia within the Conservatives that stole the headlines, the issue is by no means confined to them. In the eyes of Muslims in the UK, close to 8 in 10 Muslims feel Islamophobia is not appropriately dealt with by the current opposition, Labour.  Seemingly, feelings of political abandonment have accelerated within the Muslim community.

Where only two parties can realistically govern this country, both have allowed a culture of Islamophobia to fester within, across and beyond their ranks.  It leaves Muslims in the UK on the brink of political homelessness should cases not be addressed appropriately before the next election. As it stands, the Muslim vote is on a knife-edge.

See our full sample breakdown.

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