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Gareth Thomas: “Muslim should vote Coop”

The Coop Party already has 31 MPs in Parliament, making them the fourth largest party, yet you will be forgiven for not knowing who they are.  As a sister party of Labour they run on a joint platform called ‘Labour Coop’. But what does the Coop stand for? Does it really make a difference within Labour? And do Coop values and Islamic values overlap? Sarmad Jawad sat down with the Chair of the Coop, Gareth Thomas MP, to find out.

So what does the Coop offer Muslims? According to Thomas, a lot. The Coop’s biggest policy for the upcoming election is entrenched with Islamic principles. The Coop wants companies with 50+ employees to share profits with its employees, or as they like to call it, a John Lewis economy. Islamic principles encourage wealth to be distributed pre-production, i.e. companies should pay their employees based on the wealth they create, not on how much they accept being paid and pocketing the rest.

“There are examples of companies that are profitable, durable and have higher job satisfaction rates that share their profits with their employees,” Thomas said . When it was pointed it out to Thomas that profit-sharing could stifle innovation, Thomas dismissed such claims by listing successful companies that share profits, including the “provocative” Navy Federal.

The Coop also champions other radical, but principled, policies, such as the Rohin Hood tax (a tax that is supported by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and over 1,000 economists, read here) and the Land Value Tax (a progressive tax on land, read here).

But if someone is to vote for the Coop, will it really be able to implement these proposals? The Coop seeks to win arguments within Labour, and push their candidates further up the Labour hierarchy, so it can achieve its aims. Is the Coop a pressure group within Labour? (Thomas’ answer came back sharply) “No, we have our own agenda and we are working from within to achieve it”. That sounds great, but what are the Coop’s biggest achievements since 1997? “We’ve managed to build 1000 Cooperative schools, converted leading football clubs into supporter-owned clubs (including Swansea City FC, a Premier League side) and reformed the law to allow Coop businesses to function like normal businesses”.

What about you, you’re the chair of Coop and a Shadow Minister, how have you influenced Labour recently? Thomas says he is proud that he convinced Ed Miliband to tax pay-day lenders to raise money for credit unions.

The Muslim News pointed out that these achievements, albeit positive, are no where near as radical as the ones the Coop are proposing. “We are ambitious,” Thomas replied, “and we will try to win the debate within Labour.”

“The Coop is about giving as much power as possible to the people,” Thomas says, a cliché if there ever was one. But the Coop takes this idea to its radical end. They believe that railways are run as a partnership between passengers and staff, people coming together to form credit unions, locals having a say in the local NHS (not on clinical decisions, Thomas is quick to point out), the examples are endless. This seems like a huge number of arguments that you need to win within Labour? “We need to build the case for each of those arguments. Look the past decade has shown the need for an alternative way to running the country, the Coop is proposing this.”

Thomas thinks that Muslims would be attracted to the Coop because Muslim and Coop values “lean the same way”. On issues such as ethical business and finance, empowerment of the individual, pooling the communities’ resources to support the community, Thomas thinks there’s significant overlap between the Coop and Muslims. “I would support a Muslim credit union that borrows money interest-free,” Thomas added.

The Coop Party does not run independently, if you want to vote Coop check if your local candidate is a ‘Labour Coop’ candidate. If they are not ask them about their Coop principles.

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Why Muslim should vote Conservative

Rehman Chishti, Conservative MP for Gillingham and Rainham

Exclusive: May’s election is the most important in a generation. That means that when you put a cross next to someone’s name and vote, you’re making a real choice about the future of our country.

 It’s a choice between David Cameron as Prime Minister or putting Ed Miliband into Downing Street. It’s a choice between working through a plan that is helping fix our economy, or giving up the progress we’ve made. And it’s a choice that has real consequences for you, your family and Britain.

 We all know that the Government has had to take some difficult decisions over the past five years. That’s because after thirteen years of Labour, Britain just wasn’t living within its means. One in four pounds the Government spent was borrowed – and Labour’s mismanagement of the economy saw people losing their jobs, savings and homes.

 Since then, the Conservatives have been working to a plan to build a healthy economy. This helps people, rewarding them with a meaningful job and a decent standard of living. We’ve backed the businesses that create jobs with better infrastructure and lower jobs taxes. Compared with 2010, there are now over 180,000 more people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnicity in work. Think about the difference that makes to the lives of each of those people – the security of getting paid each month, and being better able to look after their families.

 Our plan is also about helping our young people reach their potential and succeed in life. We protected the schools budget and are working to ensure children get the high quality education they deserve. We’ve seen big rises in the number of children taking the GCSE subjects that are most valued by universities and employers. Four in ten Asian pupils are now taking these subjects – nearly double the level in 2010.

 We’re also delivering record numbers of apprenticeships. These ‘earn while you learn’ schemes combine training and qualifications with real work. They mean people can learn a skill, and get on in life. Since 2010, nearly 40,000 apprenticeships have been started by British Bangladeshi or Pakistani people.

 Our growing economy helps us fund good public services that people can rely on when they need them. Last year Britain’s was the fastest growing major, advanced economy in the world. We need that strong economy to have a strong NHS. In Government, we’ve increased the NHS budget by £12.7 billion. That means we can have thousands more doctors and nurses in our hospitals helping treat the sick.

 As well as delivering a strong economy – Conservatives have taken action on the issues that specifically affect the Muslim community. I know many people are worried about Islamophobia. We’ve set up a new team in Government that brings together the people responsible for tackling anti-Muslim hatred, and Ministers are working with the police to ensure mosques get the protection they need. And at a time when some are calling for restrictions on halal food, David Cameron has said clearly: whilst he is Prime Minister, halal is safe.

 On international aid, the Government is committed to spending 0.7% of our national income on aid and development – helping those in poverty and need this includes many Muslim countries around the world.

 These are just some of the ways we’ve made progress and there is more we want to do. But the alternative is clear. Ed Miliband isn’t up to the job of Prime Minister. But he would be in Downing Street getting pushed around by everyone – and it’s people reading this who would pay the price. Labour simply haven’t got a plan for the economy. That would mean more borrowing, more taxes and putting at risk the stability of our whole economy.

 So when you go to the polling station on Thursday May 7, less than two months time, you’re making an important choice. Choose Conservative, and you’re choosing a competent Prime Minister, a strong team, and a plan for a better future for you, your family and this country.

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Why Muslims should vote Labour

Shabana Mahmood MP, Shadow Exchequer Secretary

Exclusive: The key job of Government is to collect taxes and to decide how to distribute the money. Party political manifestos are primarily put together to tell people what each party would do – what they would spend and what they wouldn’t – if enough people voted for them to form the next Government.

The global crash in 2008, followed by the worldwide recession was caused by irresponsible bankers in America but is still being felt by workers here; wages after inflation are still on average £1,600 lower a year than they were in 2010. But the crash also means there is an added dimension to the debate; the parties also need to explain how they are going to reduce the remaining budget deficit. The Government still spends more money each year than it takes in – a necessity during the dark days of the recession but not something that should be sustained indefinitely.

The Labour Party has made its priorities very clear. We will:

• Make work pay by expanding free childcare for working parents and introducing a lower 10p starting rate of income tax to help 24 million working people;

• Get at least 200,000 new homes built a year to relieve Britain’s housing crisis;

• Increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour before 2020 and give tax breaks to firms who start paying the living wage;

• And get the NHS back on its feet by employing 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more care workers and 3,000 more midwives by 2020

And we know exactly how we will pay for it.

We will ask those who have a more to pay a little more. We will introduce a mansion tax for people who own a house worth over £2 million. We will also reintroduce the 50p rate of tax for people who earn more than £150,000.

We will also clamp down on tax avoidance. We will close tax loopholes that are being exploited by companies to avoid paying tax such as the Quoted Eurobond Exemption and we will stop the abuse of self-employment in the construction industry.

And we will make some cuts – for example we know we can make £250 million of savings in the police budget – savings would include scrapping elected Police and Crime Commissioners and reforming police procurement through mandatory joint purchasing of equipment by police forces.

Our financial plan allows us to make significantly different choices to the Tories and it will allow us to get rid of the budget deficit – to balance the books – at the very latest by 2020.

The Tories however are not being quite as upfront in their plans. They have told us that their goal is to get rid of the deficit and in fact run a surplus of £23 billion by 2019-2020.

What they haven’t told us, at all, is how on earth they are going to get there.

Because if that is really their plan then to do that they will have to make cuts twice as large as those that they are admitting to. Cuts that would change the face of Government in this country.

Cuts to public spending of this magnitude would lead to the smallest police force since the late 1970s (the earliest available comparable data), the smallest army since Cromwell ruled Britain in the 17th Century, and a third of older people in social care losing their entitlement to it.

Cuts that would affect each and every one of us in this country.

And the Tories, of course, as a political party have every right to put that political choice on the table for voters to chose. But at the moment they are not being honest with people about exactly how they would achieve it and what that choice would mean.

In my constituency of Birmingham Ladywood I have no doubt what that would mean.

People waiting longer and longer for NHS treatment; more foodbanks; fewer police on the beat and more vulnerable older people trying to fend for themselves. And I don’t think it would end there.

So there is a big choice for voters in the 2010 election. It’s a choice about who you want to be the Prime Minister of our country; which political party you think will be best for you. But more than that, it’s about the kind of country you want to live in. A country where Government creates the conditions to enable people to get on or a country where most people are left to sink or swim. I know which kind of country I will chose.

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Why Muslims should vote for the Lib Dems

Baroness Manzoor CBE, Lib Dem Peer recognised for her work in Business and the public sector

Exclusive: The Lib Dems are the party of opportunity. We believe everybody, no matter who they are, should be given the same chances in life. We want to do all we can to make sure everyone has the opportunities to get on in life.

Conservatives are seeking to remove some of the basic freedoms in the European Convention of Human Rights, which sit strongly alongside the principles of Islam. We are the only party in the UK that genuinely supports fundamental human rights and civil liberties.

We desire to build a fairer society is balanced with our desire to build a stronger economy.  For the UK to thrive we need to take advantage of all our talents and build our economy on the diversity of the people of the UK. Muslim men are reportedly 76% less likely to be employed then white Christians of a similar age. This is appalling. We are encouraging those companies that reflect equality and diversity good practice. Part of the problem is at the top, company heads do not reflect the population (only 5% of our board members are from ethnic minorities). The next government must ensure that change happens. We want to see, at the very least, one non-white person on every board of FTSE 100 companies by 2020.

The Quran advocates only one tax; Zakaat that is only payable by those who have excess wealth left over at the end of the year i.e. the rich. It is paid as a percentage on the wealth so the richer pay more. It is distributed to the poor, the sick, disabled, the elderly and the needy and used to abolish poverty and need. We achieved this with cutting income tax for poorest and want to impose mansion tax on the richest.

We are also an internationalist Party.  Nick Clegg was the only Party leader willing to stand up to the nationalistic, anti-immigration message spouted by Nigel Farage. We believe in a Britain that is open to trade, open to new ideas and that promotes equality throughout the world.  We were the only major Party to vote against the disastrous Iraq war and our MPs continue to work to promote diplomatic solutions to international problems.

My background is in health, I was the Chair of the Northern and Yorkshire NHS Regions. Many health issues affect ethnic minorities more adversely than other parts of the population, yet they often have more difficulty accessing services. We are fighting to end these differences and discrimination in our health provision

For example, as a party we are pushing for equality in mental health provision, an area where ethnic minorities are over represented, we have enshrined in law the equal status of mental and physical health in the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

There is further inequality in how mental health problems affect different groups within society. People from a minority background are more likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital for mental illnesses. Furthermore, they are more likely to disengage from the services on offer. This is causing an unnecessary and avoidable divisions in society. We made clear that culturally appropriate services are offered on the NHS, we need our National Health Service to work for our modern nation. It is for these reasons mental health will be a key part of our manifesto.

We also find inequalities in social care. Black and ethnic minority groups do not get the same service as others. Ethnic minorities are less likely to use health and social care services and those that do often appear to get worse treatment.

We  want to change this statistic, we are introducing a £75,000 cap on care costs and giving financial support to people with less than £123,000 assets. Nobody will have to sell their home to pay for care during their lifetime thanks to our plans. We are determined that everybody should have the opportunity to access good quality care.

We are working hard to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities in life. We need to ensure that our society is built on equality and fairness. We must build a fair society across the board, in government, in business, in health, in education. We must represent, and cater for, the diversity of our society throughout our society. With your votes and support,  the Liberal Democrats are the party that will deliver this.

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Muslim Manifestos

Muslim Manifestos

Many Muslim organisations will/have release/d manifestos. The Muslim News will collate them here, summarise them and comment on them.

MCB’s Muslim Manifesto

MCB manifesto

Mend’s Muslim Manifesto

MEND-Muslim-Manifesto-GE2015-DL-270x270

The Muslim Manifesto 2015

webbanner

Harrow West

Candidates have offered Muslims 17-pages of pledges on issues they asked. See here.

Harrow East

Candidates have offered Muslims 17-pages of pledges on issues they asked. See here.

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Seats where Muslims are influential

Click on constituency for more detail

According to analysis* by The Muslim News Muslims could influence up to 25 marginal seats. Most of these seats are in London, but there’s a significant presence in Yorkshire and Birmingham. The Muslim News will cover these seats in depth.

There are many seats where Muslims make up a substantial minority which have been omitted from our analysis (such as seats in Birmingham and Manchester). This is because these seats are safe seats and it is unlikely it will change hands, so The Muslim News decided to cover them less.

* We used three statistical models to obtain these results, read the full methodology. “The best and most comprehensive analysis on the Muslim vote,” Dr. Jamil Sharif.

Click on constituency for more detail

London

Brent Central

Brentford and Isleworth

Ealing Central and Acton

Enfield North

Harrow East

Harrow West

Hendon

Leyton and Wanstead

Poplar and Limehouse

Westminster North

Yorkshire

Batley and Spen

Bradford East

Dewsbury

Halifax

Keighley

Birmingham

Birmingham Hall Green

Birmingham Yardley

Walsall South

Other

Luton South

Manchester Gorton

Oldham East and Saddleworth

Pendle

Peterborough

Slough

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Westminster North

Brief:

Current MP Karen Buck, Labour.

"While the Westminster wards that make up Cities of London and Westminster to the south all return full slates of Tory coucillors, all four Labour wards on Westminster borough council are found in this seat. It is a classic marginal, with Labour drawing its strength from the council estates and cosmopolitan areas like West Kilburn and Paddington, while the Conservative support comes from expensive areas like Bayswater and St Johns Wood." UK Polling Report

Target seat:

Possible Conservative target number 34

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

PIe Westminister NOrth

Ashcroft snapshot:

None available

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Walsall South

Brief:

Current MP: Valerie Vaz, Labour.

"The constituency was first contested in 1955 largely from Walsall constituency, and won by its only Conservative MP to date, Major-General Henry d'Avigdor-Goldsmid. Bruce George of the Labour Party won the seat when the Major-General stood down in the February 1974 general election, he too was an prominent supporter of the armed services and led Britain's NATO delegation to its Parliament, subsequently becoming its Vice-President. While never a prominent frontbencher, George held Walsall South until his retirement at the 2010 general election, when he was succeeded by Valerie Vaz (also of the Labour Party)." Wiki

Target seat:

Possible Conservative target seat number 34

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

Walsall South

Ashcroft snapshot:

None available

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Slough

Brief:

Current MP: Fiona Mactaggart, Labour.

"Slough is a much maligned town to the west of London, associated with Sir John Betjeman`s "Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough" and, more recently, the Office`s David Brent. It is a business hub that grew up around the world`s first industrial estate between the wars and ballooned through post-war overspill development. It remains a major business centre, companies based here include Mars, Nintendo, Black and Decker, Amazon, CItroen and ICI`s Dulux paints factory. Industry and business have attracted immigration and it is a highly diverse seat. Over half the population are from ethnic minorities, mostly Asian, and there is also a sizable Polish community. Slough has one of the highest proportions of Sikh residents of any seat outside of London and the metropolitan West Midlands." UK Polling Report.

Current MPs message to Muslims

Yet to respond

Nearest challenger’s message to Muslims:

"This year’s election is the most important in a generation. With Britain needing to cement its recovery and lock in high growth, more jobs and better wages, while dark clouds still hang over neighbouring economies. The UK economy is now doing really well with record employment, record opening of new businesses and crime at its lowest. We must ensure that all sections of the community feel that they are a valuable part of our society and benefit from our strong economy.

However, there are issues which we, as a free and responsible society, need to deal with, collectively and individually. The last few years have seen an increase in Islamophobia and events have turned in a way which no one can be proud of. In the 1960s and 70s Sikhs, because of their turban, faced immense discrimination, and now Muslims seem to be at the receiving end of a similar lack of understanding. Apart from some regrettable lack of acceptance of Muslims that must be challenged, there are a couple of issues that add to a feeling of alienation amongst them; these are: recognition of a Palestinian State and the Charlie Hebdo satire. On Palestine, I believe Israel and Palestine both have right to exist and I support Palestinian Rights, as they are being squeezed. On the Charlie Hebdo issue, let me say unequivocally that I condemn violence and support freedom of speech, but this right (freedom of speech) must be exercised with responsibility. In this regard, for the protection of all (religions), there are blasphemy laws which already exist, I believe these laws need to be strengthened. If elected, I intend to introduce a Private Members bill to do that, which will protect ALL religions and prophets.

As an ethnic minority candidate who has lived in the UK since 1972 and has served as a Councillor in a local authority, I believe I can make a positive contribution. I held numerous responsible positions as a councillor, including Chairman of Housing, Recycling and Waste; cabinet member for Environment; deputy Leader of the Council; deputy Mayor and Mayor. I believe that I am well placed to receive your support, and votes, on 7th May. Please vote Conservative." Gurcharan Singh, Conservative candidate

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

PIe Slough

Ashcroft snapshot:

None available

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Rochdale

Brief:

Simon Danczuk, Labour. Unusually, there are three Muslim PPCs challenging Simon, including Masud Mohammed for UKIP.

"Contains most of the town of Rochdale, apart from its western suburbs which lie in Heywood and Middleton, and the neighbouring towns of Milnrow and Littleborough, all former mill towns. In the east the seat stretches up into the foothills of the South Pennines, with the Pennine way passing through the eastern edge of the seat. The seat has a large ethnic minority population, with 17% describing themselves as Asian in the 2001 census. Politics: Rochdale has a strong tradition of Liberal support. For twenty years it was represented by the mountainous Sir Cyril Smith, but since his retirement it has become more marginal, swapping back and forth between Labour and the Liberal Democrats several times over the last twenty years. In 2010 the seat was the place where Gordon Brown infamously described a member of the public as a "bigoted woman" having accidentally left his microphone on - it did not prevent Labour retaking the seat from the Liberal Democrats. " UK Polling Report.

Target seat:

This is not a target seat

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

PIe Rochdale

Ashcroft snapshot:

None available

Poplar & Limehouse

Brief:

Current MP Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour.

The Respect Party's challenge to Labour will wane in the 2015 election and this seems to be a safe Labour seat.

"Until 2004 this was a rock solid Labour area, held by the party since 1922. The Conservatives had never even held a single council ward in Tower Hamlets. Even in the Labour rout of 1968 when the Conservatives swept to dominance in unlikely places such as Haringey, Hackney and Lambeth, they failed to take a single seat in Tower Hamlets. The rapid gentrification around the docklands and Canary Wharf has changed this - the Conservatives gained a single seat in a 2004 by-election and in 2006 took 7 seats on the council, including all six on the Isle of Dogs. While Labour have been under assault from the Conservatives in the south of the seat, in the north their support in the largely Bangladeshi community has been under threat from Respect. Whether the seat remains a realistic target probably depends to a great deal on whether Respect continue to take a large slice of Labour`s traditional support in the seat. The seat contains a number of slices of political history - it was the site of the Wapping Dispute in the 1980s, the Gang of Four made their declaration launching the SDP at David Owen`s Limehouse house in 1981 and in 1993 was the location of the BNP`s first local election victory, when Derek Beackon was briefly elected as a councillor in Millwall." UK Polling Report.

Target seat:

This is not a target seat

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

Pie Poplar

Ashcroft snapshot:

None available

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Peterborough

Brief:

Current MP Stewart Jackson, Conservative.

"Peterborough was a victorian industrial town that has grown massively since the 1970s after being designated as a newtown in 1967. It is an economically successful city with strong service and distribution industries on the back of good transport links (there are intercity trains to London and it sits just off the A1(M)). It is an ethnically diverse city - there is a significant Asian Muslim population, but also many Italian immigrants (due to recruitment for the brickmaking industry in the 1950s) and more recent Eastern European immigration. The seat also contains an area of Fenland to the east including the villages of Thorney and Eye." UK Polling Report.

Target seat:

Labour target number 78

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

Pie Peterb

Ashcroft snapshot:

None available

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Pendle

Brief:

Current MP Andrew Stephenson, Conservative.

A Conservative gain in 2010, Stephenson faces a tough tasks in keeping his seat against Azhar Ali, Labour's Muslim PPC.

"The seat is named after the local authority. There is no town called Pendle, rather it is the name of a prominent hill and the Forest of Pendle - the hilly landscape in the south eastern part of the seat. It is a Pennine seat, straddling the traditional boundary between Yorkshire and Lancashire and mostly consisting of former mill towns that grew up along the route of the Leeds-Liverpool canal. The textile industry is long gone, leaving small towns of terraced Victorian housing that are now commuter and tourist towns." UK Polling Report.

Target seat:

Labour target number 57

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

Pie Pendle

Ashcroft snapshot:

Polling of this constituency by Lord Ashcroft produced the following results:

Ash Pendle

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“It’s beneath me to be interviewed by you. You are a women”

 

A video has gone viral of a Lebanese TV host cutting off a scholar after he told her to ‘shut up’.

Rima Karaki, a TV host at Al-Jaded TV, a pan-Arab TV station, and professor, told the scholar, “Either there is respect or this conversation is over”.

The scholar, Hani al-Sibai was interrupted by Karaki, as he was giving a detailed historical answer, asking him to ‘talk about this era’ as ‘our time slot is limited’.

Rima

Sibai reacted angrily , “Don’t cut me off so you can prove yourself mighty … I will present the idea I want.”

Karaki then said that she is telling him to be concise so you can get you’re idea across fully in the time available. “In this studio I run the show,” she continued.

This sent Sibai over the top, “Shut up let me continue” he said. After a tense silence Karaki replied, “How can a respectable scholar like you tell a TV host to shut up?”

Karaki then decided to cut the interview, to which Sibai replied “It’s beneath me to be interviewed by you. You are a women…” when his microphone was muted and then cut off altogether.

 

Oldham E & Saddleworth

Brief:

Current MP Debbie Abrahams, Labour.

"A constituency at the eastern side of Greater Manchester, reaching from central Oldham up into the Pennines and Saddleworth Moor. It covers the East of Oldham itself, an area of deprived terraces and racial tensions, the relatively prosperous (and unusually named) town of Shaw and Crompton and the more middle-class villages and hamlets of Saddleworth. There are racial tensions here - Oldham has a large Muslim population, concentrated in particular areas. In 2001 there were race riots in Oldham and the BNP performed strongly in 2001, getting over 10% of the vote. BNP support has declined, but some of the underlying problems remain - remaining concerns were visible in Phil Woolas`s literature at the 2010 election, which claimed that Woolas was being targetted by Muslim extremists." UK Polling Report.

Target seat:

No party is targeting this seat, but, a Muslim rebellion could spell trouble for the incumbent.

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

Oldham E & Saddleworth

Ashcroft snapshot:

None available

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Manchester Gorton

Brief:

Current MP Gerald Kaufman, Labour.

"A tough inner-city seat to the south of Manchester city centre. Longsight and Gorton are largely made up of Victorian terraced housing, two-up two-downs. There is a large Asian and Muslim population, concentrated in Longsight which has also suffered from gang and gun violence in recent years. Historically Rusholme used to be a more middle class area, but here and in Whalley Range the bigger houses have been broken up into flats and bedsits and Rusholme, Levenshulme and Longsight are all now home to many of Manchester`s students." UK Polling Report.

Target seat:

No party is targeting this seat, but, a Muslim rebellion could spell trouble for the incumbent.

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

Man Gor

Ashcroft snapshot:

None available

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Luton South

Brief:

Current MP Gavin Shuker, Labour.

"Luton was historically a manufacturing town, originally for hats, and more recently for Vauxhall cars and Electrolux. The Vauxhall car plant closed in 2002 and the fast growing London Luton Airport across the boundary in Luton South is becoming a far more important part of the local economy. The constituency has a high proportion of ethnic minorities, in the 2001 census over a quarter of the population was non-white and there is a large Muslim population that could have a political impact." UK Polling Report

Target seat:

No party is targeting this seat, however, if the Muslim community rebels against the incumbent he would face a serious trouble.

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

Luton South maj

Ashcroft snapshot:

None available

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Leyton and Wanstead

Brief:

Current MP John Cryer, Labour.

"This was created as a cross-borough seat in 1997, shoving together somewhat ill-matched wards from Waltham Forest and Redbridge. Leyton - the Waltham Forest part of the seat - is an inner-city, multicultural working class area. Recent redevelopement has seen the demolition of the old tower blocks in estates like Oliver Close and their replacement with modern low rise developments, but this remains an area with problems of crime and deprivation. In contrast Wanstead is more suburban and middle-class, with attractive Edwardian housing set amongst open green spaces like Wanstead Flats. The seat includes Whipps Cross hospital and New Spitalfields Market. UK Polling Report

Target seat:

No party is targeting this seat, however, if the Muslim community rebels against the incumbent he would face a serious trouble.

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

Leyton maj

Ashcroft snapshot:

None available

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Keighley

Brief:

Current MP Kris Hopkins, Conservative.

A Conservative gain from Labour in 2010, the seats in West Yorkshire are a key battlefield in the upcoming elections. Muslims are large minorities in these regions and will be key players in the elections.

"A seat in the north-west of West Yorkshire, set on the edge of the moors. Keighley itself is a former textile town, it contains somewhat troubled estates like Braithwaite, has a significant asian population and has in the past suffered some problems with racial tension. To the North the seat extends over part of Rombald`s Moor (including the iconic Ilkley Moor) to the towns of Addingham and Ilkley in Wharfedale. Ilkley is a prosperous Victoria Spa town that remains a popular tourist destination. To the south the seat follows the preserved heritage steam railway through villages like Haworth, again a popular tourist destination thanks to its association with the Bronte sisters." (UK Polling Report)

Current MP’s message to Muslims

Yet to respond

Nearest challenger’s message to Muslims:

"I will be best in representing Muslims in three important areas. Diasporas of all kinds like the politicians who represent them to take an interest in the issues facing the countries they have their roots in. I have visited Kashmir and Sylhet in Bangladesh to enable me to sensibly contribute to current debates about the future of those areas. Also, when I was the MP for Selby between 1997 and 2010 I voted against the Iraq War. If elected in Keighley I would want to speak out strongly on matters of local and international injustice but in a reasoned tone and not just for the sake of grabbing a headline.

On domestic issues in Keighley jobs and low pay are one of the prime areas of concerns for Muslim voters. There are both Christian and Muslim led food banks in the town and there is a sense of outrage that many people who work a full week still do not have enough money to feed, clothe and keep warm their kids. There is a great sense of loss from both working class white and British Asian voters that Keighley no longer has big private sector companies to provide employment and external investment is clearly needed.

Public Services would be the third area of interest. Muslim parents are rightly getting increasingly demanding of schools. Children of a Bangladeshi background are now out performing those of all others in some of the town's schools. The fact that Labour is promising to protect school budgets in real terms, rather than just in cash terms as the Tories are, should be a winner as should the Party's commitment to fixing the NHS.

Above all my approach to the Muslim vote is simply that like the Catholic vote it represents a community that is British through and through. That should be taken as read rather than repeatedly questioned. When I was growing up and the IRA was launching a viscous bombing campaign, it was the Irish Catholic community that took the lead in isolating the extremists, just as the Muslim Community is doing now. Our diversity in the modern world is our strength and not our weakness." John Grogan, Labour candidate

Target seat:

Labour target number 48

Muslims v.s. margin of victory:

keightly maj

Ashcroft snapshot:

Polling of this constituency by Lord Ashcroft produced the following results:

Keighley ash

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The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on 25 March in central London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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