Muslim voters could affect the outcome in more than 30 marginal constituencies in next month’s general election, according to research published as mosques prepare for a nationwide registration drive.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) released a list on Monday of 31 marginal seats in which Muslim voters could have “high” or “medium” impact.
Top of the list is Kensington in west London, where the Labour candidate, Emma Dent Coad, is defending a majority of 20 against a strong challenge from the Liberal Democrat candidate, Sam Gyimah. Nine per cent of the constituency’s voting age population is Muslim – estimated at 5,431, or 271 times Dent Coad’s majority.
Also on the list of seats where Muslim votes could have high impact is Dudley North, where the former Labour party member Ian Austin, who has a majority of 22, has called on voters to back Boris Johnson; and Richmond Park, where the Conservative Zac Goldsmith is defending a majority of 45. In both constituencies, 4% of the voting age population is Muslim, or more than 70 times the majority of the sitting MP.
Fourteen of the 31 seats are held by Labour, 14 by the Conservatives and three by the SNP. The MCB, the main representative body for Muslims in the UK, is non-partisan.
Among the seats is Finchley and Golders Green, where the Conservative Mike Freer is being challenged by the Lib Dem Luciana Berger, who left the Labour party earlier this year over antisemitism. Much of the focus of candidates’ campaigns has been on the local Jewish population – 20% of the total – but according to the MCB data, 8% of voters are Muslim, translating to 3.5 times Freer’s majority.
Harun Khan, the MCB’s secretary general, said: “As active participants in our society, Muslims – in all their diversity – can play a significant role in what may become a close election, and we hope that the parties listen and reach out to Muslim communities across the country to engage on issues of concern.”
The MCB said it was focusing on increasing Muslim voter participation and encouraging communities to engage with the election debate.
On Friday, mosques and Muslim community organisations will take part in the first national Muslim voter registration day.
Zara Mohammed, the MCB’s assistant secretary general, said: “It’s important that we all – young and old – realise our potential to make change through political participation. Our votes matter. Be it the mosque, community organisation, student society or women’s group, each of us can make a difference. This is as true in Ealing as in Edinburgh – we all have a responsibility to encourage as many people to register to vote.”
Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park mosque in Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North constituency, which was attacked by a far-right terrorist in 2017, said: “At my mosque we know the price we all pay when certain communities are excluded from politics. It is high time Muslims make their voices heard – especially as many Muslim communities are in seats where they can be the difference between one candidate or another ending up in parliament.”
Nasir Mahmood of Birmingham Central mosque, one of the largest in the UK, said it was “the civic duty of every citizen – Muslim or not – to exercise their democratic right to vote”. The registration drive was key to “helping Muslims make their voices heard this election”.