What has happened to the Labour Muslim vote?


by Leon
23rd August, 2006 at 4:35 pm    

Interesting insight into polling Muslim voters; mainly because it casts doubt on all those headline grabbing polls about what Muslims in the UK think. I’ve always been suspect of polling, the choice of wording, the current [political] climate and the way the data is collated can all distort factual outcomes and thus determine interpretation.

Anyway, Anthony Wells has this to say:

“Accurate polls of British Muslims are actually rather hard to do. For phone polls there is no nice list of only Muslim phone numbers to randomly select from, and the census data from 2001 is the only available data for coming up with weighting targets for the demographic make up of the Muslim population – hence many polls of Muslims are unweighted. Added to this is that, presumably for cultural reasons, polls of British Muslims encounter a very high refusal rate from women.

ICM have tried to get round the problem of sampling Muslims by ringing back Muslims they’d identified in their normal surveys, and increasing the sample size by asking people interviewed if they have contact details of any other Muslims they think would agree to be interviewed. This isn’t perfect of course, since in theory people may well be more likely to give details of people with views similar to their own.

The recent NOP poll for Channel 4 on the other hand, used normal random telephone dialling, but only in places where more than 5% of the population were Muslim (presumably even in areas with more than 5% Muslims it must have taken a huge number of unsuccessful phone calls to houses that turned out not to contain anyone Muslim in order to get a sample of 1,000 people). This is obviously a trade-off between the absurdly prohibitive cost of doing random dialling across the whole country and discarding 97% of your calls, and excluding Muslims who live in areas where less than 5% of the population is Muslim. NOP also did 7% of their interviews in languages other than English, while I believe that ICM only interviewed English speaking British Muslims.

What this all means, is that polls of Muslim voting intention aren’t 100% reliable, and aren’t easily compared to each other. Add to that the fact that ICM’s polls of British Muslims back in 2004 were not weighted because of a lack of authoritative demographics, while their more recent poll in February 2006 used the 2001 census data for weighting purposes (as did NOP).” [via UK Polling Report]

Fascinating stuff and a good piece of information to undermine all those reactionaries that rely on stats about Muslims supporting the July 7th bomber etc.

The main point however is indication that ‘Muslim voters’ haven’t stopped supporting Labour in droves, as is normally assumed. The poll does come with the aforementioned caveats but this all begs the question; how can anyone claim to know what Muslim people think, given

a) Problems with polling
b) The often changable political climate
c) Muslims are more than one ethnic grouping

Isn’t it time reactionary discourse about one segment of the British population gave way to a reasonable one?


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Filed in: Current affairs,Muslim,Party politics






27 Comments below   |  

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  1. Eric — on 23rd August, 2006 at 8:00 pm  

    Sunny, isn’t this supportive of the Harry’s Place line about so-called community leaders?

  2. soru — on 23rd August, 2006 at 8:04 pm  

    Doesn’t Sunny actually own the copyright on the phrase ‘so-called community leaders’?

  3. Sunny — on 23rd August, 2006 at 8:38 pm  

    Eric – huh?
    Btw, Leon did the story, not me.

  4. leon — on 23rd August, 2006 at 10:15 pm  

    I’m as confused as you Sunny.

    Soru, yeah he does but it’s under Creative Commons license so feel free to use it aslong it’s for non commercial use.;)

  5. Eric — on 23rd August, 2006 at 11:52 pm  

    Well, they spout “reactionary discourse about one segment of the British population” and “claim to know what Muslim people think”.

  6. Sunny — on 24th August, 2006 at 12:21 am  

    Eric, still confused. Are you referring to Labour, the pollsters of “community leaders”?

  7. Tilling — on 24th August, 2006 at 7:40 am  

    Perhaps it would be best to stop lumping people together under a label that describes them about as accurately as calling me a member of the “white Christian community” does.

  8. Nush — on 24th August, 2006 at 10:08 am  

    Guys, after what I saw on GMTV this morning, an interview with Kate Garraway, they hardly showed remorse which was a bit insensitive when going on such a high profile breakfast show.

    They insinuated that if it was a joke, it was a good one…now that comment to me does not go down well, not in this current climate.

    Anyway if assumptions were made by jittery passengers then that is not right, they have shown compassion by what I have read above but I don’t blame them if they start to show cracks!

  9. Nush — on 24th August, 2006 at 10:10 am  

    doh wrong thread! ignore above comment! *blushes*

  10. Leon — on 24th August, 2006 at 10:10 am  

    Good point Tilling.

    Eric, elaborate?

  11. Leon — on 24th August, 2006 at 10:11 am  

    Nush, haha! I did wonder what you were on about for a sec.:P

  12. David T — on 24th August, 2006 at 3:10 pm  

    isn’t this supportive of the Harry’s Place line about so-called community leaders?

    I don’t know who started going on about “so-called community leaders” first: Sunny or us. I’ve definitely been significantly influenced by Sunny’s analysis, though.

  13. David T — on 24th August, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

    Incidentally, good Ehsan Masood article here:

    http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=7741

  14. Kismet Hardy — on 24th August, 2006 at 4:25 pm  

    Nush, I know what you mean. I make so many pertinent comments but they’re never relevant to the topic at hand. It’s almost as though I just pout nonsense

  15. David T — on 24th August, 2006 at 4:33 pm  

    gorgeous pouting Kismet…

  16. Leon — on 24th August, 2006 at 4:35 pm  

    Oi! No derailing dammit!

    Eric, seriously, I’m curious as to what you meant?

  17. Sid — on 24th August, 2006 at 4:48 pm  

    Excellent post Leon.

    The first person I know who banged on about the vapidity of Muslin community leaders was my mum. I think she’s influenced Sunny and David T.

  18. Leon — on 24th August, 2006 at 5:07 pm  

    Cheers Sid, I’m going to link to it furiously everytime I read “yeah but don’t you know x% of muslims want to be suicide bombers, lets deport them” etc. It’s long overdue the quoting of polls was challenged and the resultant discourse changed in my view.

  19. Bert Preast — on 24th August, 2006 at 5:27 pm  

    If neither polls nor community leaders can be said to speak for muslims, what does?

  20. Leon — on 24th August, 2006 at 5:41 pm  

    If neither polls nor community leaders can be said to speak for muslims, what does?

    Why does their religion have to be the dominant part of their identity?

  21. Bert Preast — on 24th August, 2006 at 5:47 pm  

    Leon – it shouldn’t be. But people such as Sacranie, Galloway, Bunglawala and so on seem bent on making sure it is.

    And the polls show that there is some substance to this. /o\

    But they’re the only early warning system there is. Unless we listen to bombings, of course.

  22. leon — on 24th August, 2006 at 7:11 pm  

    I would say on the other side rightwing reactionaries aren’t helping either…

  23. Bert Preast — on 24th August, 2006 at 10:13 pm  

    No doubt about it. But the reactionaries are reacting, not taking the initiative.

  24. leon — on 24th August, 2006 at 10:21 pm  

    But the reactionaries are reacting, not taking the initiative.

    Don’t agree with that.

  25. Bert Preast — on 24th August, 2006 at 10:47 pm  

    If by reactionaries we’re talking about islamophobes then I can’t see why you don’t agree. There was a minor outburst after the Salman Rushdie stuff back in 1989 was it? Then a few more sporadic incidents but Joe Public never saw a serious threat until 9/11. Until then we just assumed our culture was so much better that they’d all start to dig it given time.

  26. leon — on 25th August, 2006 at 8:37 pm  

    Actually I had in mind your typical rightwing/Daily Mail type (see J0nz’ posts for a good characterisation). It’s more than a little tedious when a stream of trolls attempt to shut down debate by flinging dubious stats based on even more dubious pollings…

  27. Bert Preast — on 25th August, 2006 at 10:32 pm  

    Polls shouldn’t close a debate, no. But they should certainly be able to start one.

    Mind, telephone polls can get to fuck. Whatever happened to being accosted by personable young ladies sporting sturdy thighs clad in nylon in the high street, eh?

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