Victorious Leeds Green Party councillor shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’ after ‘win for Gaza’

Mothin Ali chanted Allahu Akbar after being elected to the council
Mothin Ali chanted Allahu Akbar after being elected to the council

A Green Party candidate shouted “Allahu Akbar!” after being elected to Leeds city council, while his supporters unfurled a Palestinian flag behind him.

Mothin Ali, who won the Gipton and Harehills seat with 3,070 votes, said his election to the council was a “win for the people of Gaza”.

Delivering a victory speech after the result was announced, he said people are “fed up” of being “let down” by a Labour council and concluded by saying: “We will not be silenced. We will raise the voice of Gaza. We will raise the voice of Palestine. Allahu Akbar!”

Mr Ali was one of dozens of candidates around the country who ran on a Gaza ticket and, in doing so, defeated their Labour rival.

Meanwhile in Walsall, Naheed Zohra Gultasib has held her seat in the Pleck ward. She was one of six Walsall Labour councillors who quit the party in November over Sir Keir Starmer’s refusal to back a ceasefire in Gaza.

Discontent

“This is for Gaza, this is for Palestine,” Gultasib said in her victory speech, to cheers and chants, as well as murmurs of discontent. “You showed [Labour] that they cannot take your vote for granted.”

Akhmed Yakoob, a pro-Palestinian independent candidate running for West Midlands mayor, secured nearly 20 per cent of the vote in Birmingham which one of the seven areas which make up the combined authority.

Across the country, Labour support plummeted in areas with a high Muslim population, analysis by The Telegraph has found.

The analysis focused on wards in council areas with the highest proportion of Muslim voters – Blackburn, Bradford, Pendle, Oldham and Manchester – showed Labour support dropped by an average of 25 points.

In Pendle, wards with Muslim populations higher than 10 per cent saw Labour support decline, on average, by 43 per cent. Meanwhile, those with smaller populations saw support surge by 15 per cent.

In Blackburn, support in those Muslim areas fell by 35 per cent. Across all five areas, Muslim areas dropped support by at least 12 per cent.

Policy changes

Sir Keir Starmer faced calls to make a series of policy changes to win back the trust of Muslim voters. It is understood that members of his shadow Cabinet intend to raise the issue with him in the coming days.

Ali Milani, national chair of Labour Muslim Network, said: “There is no question now that Muslim communities’ concerns and anger is translating into real votes.

“A clear message has been sent in these local and mayoral elections. The concerns we have raised for months have now come to fruition.”

Mr Milani said Labour must now take “extraordinary steps” to show “we have learned the lessons and we are seriously committed to rebuilding trust”.

He explained: “We need to take a serious leadership role in the UK and abroad in stopping the war and tackling the human rights violations against Palestinians.

Islamophobia

“The Labour Party has to support calls for an immediate arms embargo and support the ICC investigation into war crimes – make it clear that we respect and accept their judgements. We have to show we are taking Islamophobia seriously, in legislation and in our own party structures.”

However, polling experts said the Muslim voters who have turned away from Labour this week are likely to have a “limited impact” on results in the general election.

Chris Hopkins, the political research director at Savanta, said: “Labour’s vote falling away in some Muslim areas shows that the party still has plenty of work to do among some communities over its response to the conflict in Gaza.

“That said, it’s likely to have a limited impact at a general election, when constituencies are larger and the vote determines the next government rather than local authority control.”

James Johnson, co-founder of JL Partners and a former Downing Street pollster, said: “The big caveat is that these places tend to be safe Labour seats and the general elections tend to be more about who will be the next prime minister. Those two combined might mean that in seat terms, it doesn’t have a huge effect.”

Most important issue

But he added that we are now seeing the “fledgling signs of a reconfiguration in British politics” where Muslims are voting on “very different issues to the wider public”.

He pointed to a recent survey carried out by JL Partners for the Henry Jackson Society which found that one in four British Muslims name the Israel/Palestine conflict as their most important election issue compared with just three per cent of the public.

Shear Brow and Corporation Park, a ward in Blackburn where 83 per cent of the population is Muslim, saw the starkest declines as Labour support fell from 91 per cent in 2021 to 27 per cent in this year’s election.

Brierfield West & Reedley in Pendle, where 54 per cent of the population is Muslim, saw vote share decline by 61 per cent.

Across the nine authorities with a population with more than 15 per cent Muslims, Labour lost 18 seats, with no net gains in any area. Independents gained 18 seats across the same areas.

In the wards where Labour lost to independents, just one had a Muslim population lower than 30 per cent: Royton South in Oldham.

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