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The Muslim World

British Muslims and the UK General Elections
By Dr. Mozammel Haque

UK’s 2015 General elections proved historic in many respects. Particularly with regard to Britain’s Muslim politics. Britain’s political landscape was transformed as David Cameron won the landslide victory by securing the first Conservative working majority since 1992 and forcing three of his rival party leaders to resign in the space of two hours. With the Conservatives winning an overall majority – confounding all the opinion poll predictions – Labour’s Ed Miliband, the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage of Ukip all announced their resignations in quick succession in one day.

Record Number of Muslim MPs elected
A record number of Muslims were elected as members of the House of Commons, 13 up from 8 in 2010. “It is great news that there are more Muslim MPs elected than ever before. However, the House of Commons still does not reflect the diversity of the population,” said Editor of the Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi.

            He added that it was a welcome sign that more Muslim women have been elected this time from Scottish National Party. Eight out of 13 of the Muslim MPs are women, six Labour, one Conservative and one (SNP).

            Four Muslim candidates won seats for the first time for the opposition party; they are Rupa Huq, Tulip Rizwana Siddiq, Naz Shah and Imran Hussein and five who were re-elected are Khalid Mahmood, Shabana Mahmood, Rushanara Ali, Yasmin Qureshi and Sadiq Khan. Anas Sarwar in Glasgow was the only sitting Muslim MP not re-elected after falling victim to the sweeping SNP victories.

            Party wise Labour has nine Muslim MPs, the Tories three and the SNP one. Despite fielding 24 Muslim candidates all in unwinnable seats, the Lib Dems have yet to have a Muslim MP.

            There are six fresh newly elected Muslim MPs; out of which five are women and one male. All of them are born in Britain in the early 70s except one who was born in the early 80’s. So far as their academic qualifications professions are concerned, all of them are university educated and professionally – one is a solicitor, one academic/lecturer, one journalist, two are social workers and one is politician.

            It is for the first time that a Muslim woman is elected to the House of Commons on a Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) ticket, Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh.

            Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh was born 5 October 1970. She has been Member of Parliament she won from Ochil and South Perthshire by defeating labour’s Gordon Banks by 10,000 votes.

            Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh was born in Chelsea in 1970, and raised in Edinburgh. Her mother is half-Welsh and half-Czech, and her father was a Pakistani. Her father was also the first Asian councillor elected in Scotland in 1986 for the New Town/Stockbridge ward on Lothian Regional Council, representing the Conservative Party. Tasmina is a solicitor, practising Muslim, leading businessperson, former actress and mother-of-four. She is National Women’s and Equalities Officer for the SNP and won an OBE for “services to Business and to the Asian community in Scotland.” She is also the founder and chair of the Scottish Asian Women's Association.

First British Conservative Muslim woman MP
For the first time British Muslim woman has been elected to the House of Commons from the Conservative Party. She is Nusrat Ghani.

She was elected in an open primary to represent the Conservative Party in Wealden, a safe Conservative seat since its creation in 1983. Ghani was expected to take over from Tory MP Charles Hendry who won the seat in 2010 with a large majority – 17,179 votes ahead of his nearest rivals, the Liberal Democrats.

            Nusrat “Nus” Ghani daughter of Kashmiri immigrants first stood for Parliament at the 2010 General Election, when she was the candidate for Birmingham Ladywood.

            She was born in Birmingham on 1 September 1972, was educated in state schools before going onto Birmingham City University and gaining a Master’s degree from the University of Leeds.

            Ghani is a journalist for the BBC World Service and was posted to various trouble spots, including Burma, Russia, and Afghanistan. She previously stood against Shabana Mahmood in Birmingham Ladywood and lost.

First British-born Bangladeshi Muslim woman MP
For the first time, a British-born Bangladeshi Muslim woman has been elected to the House of Commons from the Labour Party.

            Tulip Rizwana Siddiq was elected as Member for Hamstead and Kilburn Election. Prior to becoming an MP, she was a member of Camden Borough Council.

            Siddiq won the Hamstead and Kilburn seat with 22,002 votes, with a turnout of 44.4%. To become Camden’s first new MP in 23 years as the seat was previously held by Glenda Jackson from 1992 to 2015.

            Tulip Siddiq was born in Mitcham, London on 16 September 1982. She completed her undergraduate degree in English Literature at University College London.

Naz Shah won Bradford West for Labour
One of the most surprising election was that of Naz Shah. She won Bradford West back for Labour with a majority of 11,420 against Respect party leader George Galloway who had won the seat in a landslide bi-election in 2012.

            Naz Shah Naseem born on 13 November 1973 in Bradford, is a Labour politician. Shah has been chair of mental health charity. Sharing Voices Bradford, and had previously worked as a carer for disabled people, as an NHS Commissioner and a director within Local Government.

Black or Minority Ethnic (BME) communities
The three main political parties in the House of Commons are falling woefully short of reflecting the racial mix of their constituents, new research has found. The research also found that the 27 BME MPs (Black or Minority Ethnic) are some way short of the estimated 117 required for the Commons to be representative of the wider British population. It is also mentioned in The Guardian that the first MP from an ethnic minority background was elected in 1892. Little progress was then made until 1987, when four Labour candidates – Paul Boateng, Bernie Grant, Keith Vaz and Diane Abbott – were elected.

            The three main parties fielded more than 120 BME candidates in the 2010 General Elections, and the number of BME MPs rose to 27 from 15. This increase was largely driven by the Conservatives, whose number increased from two to 11, marking a positive change in party diversity. Labour candidates also contributed to the increase in the number of BME MPs, despite the party losing 91 seats overall, the report mentioned.

            Non-white MPs now make up more than 6% of the new parliament, up from 4.2% in 2010 – a 56% increase.

Muslim participation in British politics
Muslims have made a great progress in political participation in Britain. In 1992 General Elections, there were 11 Muslim candidates, 4 from the Conservatives, 1 from Liberal Democrats and 6 from other but none was elected. In 1997, there were 24 Muslim candidates, 3 from Labour, 6 from the Conservatives, 4 from Liberal Democrats and 11 from others but only one was elected from Labour, the first Muslim male, Mohammad Sarwar from Glasgow Central. In 2001 General Elections, there were 53 Muslims, 7 from Labour, 8 from the Conservatives, 11 from Liberal Democrats and 27 from Other but only two were elected from Labour; Mohammad Sarwar was re-elected and Khalid Mahmood was elected from Birmingham Perry Bar in 2001 election. In 2005 General Elections, there were 79 Muslims, 13 from Labour, 16 from the Conservatives, 21 from Liberal Democrats and 29 from other but four were elected from Labour. Mohammad Sarwar re-elected, Khalid Mahmood re-elected, Shahid Malik from Dewsbury and Sadiq Khan from Tooting were elected as Labour MPs.

            In 2010 General Elections, there were 80 Muslim participant, 16 from Labour, 15 from Conservatives, 21 from Liberal Democrats and 28 from other but six were elected from Labour and two from Conservatives.

            In 2015 General Elections, there were 96 Muslim participant, 22 from Labour, 19 from Conservatives, 24 from Liberal Democrats, 10 from UKIP, 7 from Green Party and 14 from others. But 9 are elected from Labour: (4 were newly elected and 5 were re-elected); 3 has been elected from Conservatives: (one newly elected and 2 re-elected) and one newly elected from Scottish Nationalist Party.

New Muslim MPs
1. Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh (SNP, Ochil and South Perthshire)
2. Rupa Huq (Labour, Ealing Central and Acton)
3. Tulip Rizwana Siddiq (Labour, Hampstead and Kilburn)
4. Nusrat Ghani (Conservatives, Wealden)
5. Naz Shah (Labour, Bradford West)
6. Imran Hussein (Labour, Bradford East)

Incumbent Muslim MPs re-elected:
7. Khalid Mahmood [Labour]
8. Shabana Mahmood [Labour]
9. Rushanara Ali [Labour]
10. Yasmin Qureshi [Labour]
11. Sadiq Khan [Labour]
12. Sajid Javid [Conservative]
13. Rehman Chisti [Conservative]