Anti-Israel Muslims exert pressure after Labour wins big in UK local elections

“This amounts to nothing more or less than political blackmail,” former Tory leader states.

By David Isaac | | Topics: Britain
Pro-Palestinian demonstration in central London, Great Britain, on February 3, 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN

Dozens of councilors who won in Britain’s nationwide local elections on May 2 ran on a pro-Gaza, anti-Israel platform, leaving many observers bewildered given that councilors’ duties focus on community issues and not foreign policy.

Adding to their concerns, in the wake of their victory, a group called “The Muslim Vote” warned Labour Party leader Keir Starmer that he would lose their support in the next general elections (not yet scheduled) if he doesn’t cede to their demands.

While Labour won big in the May 2 local elections, as was expected, BBC analysis showed that Labour’s position on the war against Hamas had “dented” its support in Muslim areas.

“In 58 local council wards analyzed by the BBC, where more than one in five residents identify as Muslim, Labour’s share of the vote was 21% down on 2021—the last time most seats were contested,” the outlet reported.

Starmer, who has worked to eradicate antisemitism from Labour’s ranks—going so far as to suspend the party’s former leader Jeremy Corbyn—proclaimed Israel’s right to defend itself in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas and Palestinian terrorists.

His position angered Muslims in the United Kingdom and some councilors, formerly Labour members, left to run as Green Party candidates.

These included one who shouted Allahu Akbar! (“God is great!”) after winning a seat on the Leeds city council, calling it a “win for the people of Gaza.”

Another Muslim Green Party candidate, elected for Bristol, posted about the “Zionist enemy police,” “Palestinian resistance” and the Hamas attack being an “American Zionist lie.”

In response, Starmer promised to win back the trust of Muslim voters.

Immediately, The Muslim Vote, which claims support from 25 organizations, including two that were being investigated for extremism, issued an 18-point list of demands.

If Starmer is “serious” about winning back the Muslim vote, the group posted to X, he must, among other things, promise to cut military ties with Israel, oppose a BDS bill, let public entities boycott Israel and allow Muslim prayer in school.

It also demanded that Starmer ditch a law that makes it a criminal offense for religious leaders to tell their congregations how to vote.

If Starmer “can’t commit,” then Green Party or Liberal Democrats “would be happy to take the votes,” the group said.

Political leaders, mainly conservatives, warned Starmer of the danger of caving to the group’s demands.

“This is shaping up to become a very big issue,” said former Tory leader Iain Duncan SmithThe Daily Mail reported. “It is a threat to our democracy, and this amounts to nothing more or less than political blackmail.”

However, in a sign that “political blackmail” may be working, Starmer on Wednesday restored the Labour whip to Parliament member Kate Osamor, a Corbyn supporter, who used the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January to accuse Israel of committing genocide.

The Evening Standard, a London paper, reported that Starmer would now be pressured to do the same for Labour MP Diane Abbott. Abbott was suspended last year for downplaying racism against Jews and other groups. Starmer said at the time that her comments were antisemitic.


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