The mythical Muslim vote


by Rumbold
24th February, 2010 at 5:20 pm    

Inayat Bunglawala argues that the Conservatives are doing too little to woo disenchanted Muslim voters, given that they are still three times more likely to vote for Labour than the Tories. The criticism of ignoring the ‘Muslim vote’ comes as a result of the Tories’ failure to attend this:

Last night, the Muslim Council of Britain – the UK’s largest Islamic umbrella body – held a gala dinner in London at which the Labour party was represented by the justice secretary, Jack Straw and the communities secretary, John Denham. The Lib Dem party leader, Nick Clegg, was also present. As elections are fast approaching this is perhaps not so very surprising. What was surprising, however, was that no frontbencher from the Conservative party deemed it worthwhile attending this event, which brought together more than 400 key figures from the UK’s diverse Muslim communities.

Inayat Bunglawala is a former secretary-general the media secretary of the MCB, which is probably where the following comes from:

And with the latest polls showing that we may be heading for a hung parliament, the Conservative party leadership could yet come to regret their needlessly offensive snub last night.

Yet his thinking is representative of a wider issue, which is the continued failure to treat Muslims as individuals. The BNP do it, the media does it and too many public figures do it as well. As Sunny has pointed out a number of times, there is nothing wrong with multiple identities, nor the idea that someone’s identities will probably influence they way they vote. Yet the moment we start talking about things like the ‘Muslim vote’, we are putting people into a box and expecting them to behave in a certain way because of their label. We do not talk of chasing the ‘white vote’, as we see white people as individuals, albeit with multiple identities that might inform their politics..

Let the Conservatives chase the votes of people who happen to be Muslims; not the ‘Muslim vote’.


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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: The mythical Muslim vote http://bit.ly/ckC1kl


  2. Darren Bridgman

    RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » The mythical Muslim vote http://bit.ly/b7BUmK


  3. Martijn de Koning

    Pickled Politics » The mythical Muslim vote – http://ow.ly/1bxJf




  1. cjcjc — on 24th February, 2010 at 5:37 pm  

    I’m not sure Bungles has ever been the sec-general – I believe he is their “media secretary”.

    Though he is wheeled out far more often than the actual secs-general who tend to put feet in mouth a little too often with such gems as homosexuality spreads disease (Sacranie – subsequently knighted) or “Is stoning ever justified? It depends what sort of stoning.”(Bari).

  2. Boyo — on 24th February, 2010 at 5:40 pm  

    Come on though, for all Sunny’s talk of multiple identities, multiculturalism has encouraged people to think of themselves according to their ethnic/ religious identity. Cake and eating it time…

  3. Rumbold — on 24th February, 2010 at 5:52 pm  

    Oops. Thanks cjcjc. Now corrected.

  4. Morrigan — on 24th February, 2010 at 5:53 pm  

    Let’s be honest, the Tories are doing just fine with the Muslim community or at least the more moderate Muslim voters:

    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/6112

    Warsi is all the Muslim they need!

  5. Sunny — on 24th February, 2010 at 6:30 pm  

    To be honest, the desire to get rid of these ‘identities’ is only one way.

    For example, Tim Montgomerie – editor of ConHome – constantly talks about the need for the Tories to reach out to the ‘Christian vote’ or for them to absord more of the ‘gay vote’.

    Inayat, though has been in the game for a while, is only following that lead.

    The Tory approach is of course completely hypocritical. They hate identity politics only when it emphasises the other – not their own constituencies.

  6. Muslim — on 24th February, 2010 at 6:52 pm  

    Economics trumps identity for most people. I dont believe Muslims are any different. Wealthier British Muslims would be interested in voting Tory. Most British Muslims are working class which is why they are traditional Labout voters. However the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and various attacks on the Muslim community by Labour ministers have seen a transfer of support towards other parties such as the Lib Dems.

  7. MaidMarian — on 24th February, 2010 at 7:23 pm  

    ‘Yet his thinking is representative of a wider issue, which is the continued failure to treat Muslims as individuals.’ Well said that man!

    I would guess that the Muslim on the Clapham omnibus is more than capable of making an informed decision on what direction the country should take based on the issues that affect everyone else.

    Boyo – ‘multiculturalism has encouraged people to think of themselves according to their ethnic/ religious identity.’ So? There is no exclusivity between multiculturalism and integration.

    You could tell me (reasonably) that some Muslims have become ghettoised, though whether that is something new or something that has attracted more media coverage is another question.

    However I would hazard a guess that the people in those ghettos do not sit around reading up on the latest developments in the government’s multiculturalism and equality policy. It may be the case that these people are jerks, but what these people are doing is the diametric opposite of multiculturalism. M/C has had zero effect on the mindset of the people you talk about.

    Muslim (above) talks about wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being unpopular amongst the Muslim community – that doesn’t sound massively different to how it is seen by other communities to me!

    As Rumbold correctly says, people can make their mind up on the issues – it is their own mind.

  8. Niels Christensen — on 24th February, 2010 at 7:40 pm  

    It’s the same in many countries in Europe ( except Germany perhaps), muslims in general vote to the left, although they are more conservative than the typical conservative party.
    The reasons is of course that they have economic interest in the social democrats and the left wing continuing support of migration.

  9. London Muslim — on 24th February, 2010 at 8:05 pm  

    As always it’s about consistency. If there are faith schools (which I oppose) Muslims like other faiths will pursue them and expect to be treated like other faiths.

    Similarly if Tories chase for example the Sikh vote in Southall or the Hindu vote in Harrow, Muslims in London would appreciate the same.

    While in the ideal world a Muslim/Hindu/Jewish vote would not be an issue to appear to selectively ignore or dismiss one particular faith vote over others appears to imply something more calculated. Moreover to deny a faith vote exists seems naive.

  10. platinum786 — on 25th February, 2010 at 9:33 am  

    Look the “Muslim” vote does exist. The same way the “black” vote, the “jew” vote, the “sikh” vote, the “white” vote exists.

    Certain ethnic/racial/religious groups have concerns/interests that the vast majority of the electorate may not share.

    As a Muslim I want a government which won’t be looking to impose Niqab bans, I also want the same as a liberal, funny thing is, nobody I know wears one. I just want to preserve the right of those who do.

    I feel a conservative government, would buckle under right wing pressure and growing Islamaphobia from Europe and legitimise the debate against the right of Muslim women to dress as they choose. I don’t see the government forcing you not to wear something any less offensive than an over-bearing husband forcing you to wear something.

    On the other hand, I want to know what peoples economic policies are, what they will do.to tackle housing shortages etc. I don’t really see a difference between Labour and the conservatives today, apart from when push comes to shove, one will show it’s dirty right wing side and one is a socialist. They are both very central parties. I see Labour as the lesser as two evils.

    I personally am thinking of voting for the Lib Dem’s but am put of by he shambolic manner in which they’ve run my local Council.

  11. bananabrain — on 25th February, 2010 at 9:46 am  

    platinum486:

    contrary to your typically lazy assumption, research in the jewish community (which i will try and find) has shown that we do not vote as a bloc. we are split down traditional party lines – generally, the more traditionally religious you are, the more likely you are to vote tory and the more assimilated, the more likely you are to vote labour or lib dem, but this is also affected by whether you are hawkish or dovish on israel and whether you have a large family or not (the ultra-orthodox tend to vote labour for this reason). there are only a few constituencies (e.g. hendon, finchley & golders green, north manchester) where the jewish community significantly affects the vote and, as you will probably see, these have switched hands a lot of times. we simply don’t vote solely according to our religious identity – and this is a good thing.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  12. Leon — on 25th February, 2010 at 10:57 am  

    Yet the moment we start talking about things like the ‘Muslim vote’, we are putting people into a box and expecting them to behave in a certain way because of their label.

    You should read Microtrends, it’s not always putting people in a box it’s sometimes giving a political narrative based on what people already relate to.

    I regularly use the term ‘black vote’ it doesn’t mean every single black person thinks and votes the same but there are overlaps in interest, there is a relationship to racial/cultural/ethnic identity which can play out politically.

    When you focus so purely on individualism it can lead to an ideological reductionism that doesn’t appreciate the often collective experiences of peoples lives…

  13. me — on 25th February, 2010 at 1:59 pm  

    This is an interesting, related story

    Sikh campaigners threaten legal fight over 2011 census
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8535141.stm

  14. Hermes — on 25th February, 2010 at 5:40 pm  

    The Tories probably stayed away from this feast because they didn’t want to be photographed with some self-appointed Muslim leaders. Remember all those embarrassing pictures of Bliar with the Hindujas, etc which were used by the Press when the passport scandal blew up. Just imagine it…Muslim leader makes dodgy statement (Sharia law for UK, ‘stone all teenage sluts’, etc, etc)…press searches library for pictures and finds one of him with a Tory leader…Bingo!!!

  15. kecks — on 25th February, 2010 at 6:27 pm  

    Mr Bungle is the sole representative of all ‘muslims’ in the UK.All muslims voted for him as the mouthpiece for them.
    And that’s a objective fact

  16. Rumbold — on 25th February, 2010 at 9:20 pm  

    Leon and Platinum:

    I have no doubt that people’s identities might affect they way they vote. I just don’t like to see people being talked about as though they are only one thing (i.e.’wooing the Muslim vote’). My identities feed into my politics, but I would never like the idea of politicians chasing the white vote, or the male vote, or the hetrosexual vote. Make your arguments to me as an individual. Show me why I should vote for you.

  17. platinum786 — on 26th February, 2010 at 10:29 am  

    BananaBrain by name and nature. I don’t care whether jewish people vote as a bloc or not. Keep your research.

    I was just trying to say that politicans do think that they can appeal to a community by picking up on issues that they feel members of that community are more likely to relate too.

    I agree with Rumbold though, that I vote as an individual as do most people. Nobody vores along the bloc theories. There is no such thing as a black, muslim, indian, or jewish vote. However i do think that politicans feel that can associaet themselves with points that individual community groups are more likely to associate in essence adding another string to their bow hoping to sway my opinion and get my vote.

    BananaBrain, If I misunderstood the point you were trying to make, i apologise. But it seems to me you just want to take a dig at every post i make where the word jew is mentioned. Your very whiny. I mean the last post i made i mentioned a hadful of communities as an example to my point yet you appear to get offended by my mention of the jewish community.

    you should grow up.

  18. Ravi — on 13th March, 2010 at 7:58 am  

    Attending gala dinner’s in a posh London hotel or spending a week living with a Muslim family!!!!. which one will give you better insight to the needs of the community. What this video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-HDgjAhFo8&feature=channel

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