Five key seats for MENA watchers to follow

The UK heads to the polls on 4 July with Gaza a key issue for many voters [Getty]

For many in England, the UK general election is a simple decision of whether to tick a box marked Labour or Conservative Party on polling day (or the Greens, Lib Dems and Reform UK in some constituencies) but for others, there is a moral issue at stake.

The UK’s main parties take a similar line, largely backing Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza with independents and left-leaning parties stepping in to challenge Labour about their stance on the war, which has cost at least 38,o00 Palestinian lives.

We look at five key seats for MENA watchers to follow on Thursday night and Friday morning, which could see some surprises and show Labour and the Conservatives that Gaza matters.

Ilford North

Leanne Mohamad, 23, is running as an independent MP fighting to unseat the Labour heavyweight West Streeting in Ilford North.

Mohamad gave up her membership of the Labour Party after Keir Starmer said Israel had the right to withhold water and power from Palestinians trapped in the besieged Gaza.

But it was Streeting’s decision to abstain from a ceasefire vote in November that prompted the young candidate to stand in the elections.

“People were angry, my community was angry because a genocide was taking place in front of their eyes, live-streamed and televised, and their local MP did not vote for a ceasefire,” she told the Guardian last month.

Polls suggest that Ilford North will remain a stronghold for Labour, with Streeting expected to increase his vote share.

Stratford and Bow

Former Labour investigations officer Halima Khan, who describes herself as “the whistleblower of the Labour Party”, will be running for the Workers Party for the newly created Stratford and Bow constituency.

Khan, 30, told the New Arab last month that she was in Ramallah, the administrative centre of the occupied West Bank, when Israel’s war on Gaza began in October.

She said her friends and the people she lived with in Jerusalem pushed her to run for the upcoming elections to use her voice for Palestine.

An entirely new seat, Stratford and Bow was carved out of defunct constituencies in Newham and Tower Hamlets, with a sizeable Bangladeshi community, and the Workers Party are seeking to seize voter anger against Israel and Starmer’s Labour Party over the Gaza war.


Jack Straw’s former seat has become a key battleground for George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain, who have formed UK ambassador Craig Murray standing against the sitting Labour MP, Kate Hollern.

Murray is a campaigner and writer, who has also highlighted the issue of Palestine over the years, is backed by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, who flew in to support his campaign in Blackburn, according to local media.

Blackburn, with a large Muslim population, has seen several independent candidates join the race with Gaza as their clarion call.

Councillor Altaf ‘Tiger’ Patel recently stepped aside and told his supporters to back Murray, while another independent, Adnan Hussain, is also challenging Labour on the Gaza issue.

There have been multiple calls on having just one pro-Gaza candidate in the race against Hollern who is the bookies’ favourite to retain her seat.

Leicester South

Shockat Adam is viewed as a strong independent voice in Leicester South, so much so that a pro-Labour website named the constituency a “battleground seat”.

Gaza is a key issue in the constituency where around one in three adult voters are Muslim, with Gaza a key concern for this demographic.

Adam told The New Arab in an earlier comment that he hopes to mobilise support around the issue of Palestine and if elected to parliament, work to “readdress the balance” for Gaza.

“My role… is to give them a voice and call out for their safety and call out for the cessation of selling of arms to Israel or any other country that is carrying out atrocities,” he said.

Labour is still the firm favourite to win the seat, but Adam will hope that enough votes for him will send a message that the UK population is no longer complacent on the issue of Palestine.

Islington North

Jeremy Corbyn, former Labour leader, has represented Islington North in parliament since 1983 and is a hugely popular MP with his constituents. 

On Thursday, he will stand as an independent for the first time after an acrimonious disciplinary period with Labour.

Corbyn has been a strong supporter of Palestine throughout his political career and will likely highlight the heartbreak in Gaza if elected again as MP.

The odds of Corbyn or Labour’s Praful Nargund is almost 50/50, meaning there could be a veteran supporter of the Palestinian cause in parliament.

Also worth watching

Bethnal Green and Stepney: In the east London seat of Bethnal Green and Stepney, independent candidate Ajmal Masroor is running on a pro-Palestine platform in hopes of unseating Labour’s Rushanara Ali.

Ali’s abstention from a Gaza ceasefire vote in parliament and Labour leader Keir Starmer’s recent comments on Bengali immigrants have been key talking points in the constituency. Bookies have given Masroor 7/1 odds of winning, while Ali has 1/6 odds of retaining the seat.

The borough of Tower Hamlets, where Bethnal Green and Stepney is situated, has a Muslim population of just under 40 percent, many of whom are of Bengali ancestry.

Rochdale: The veteran political agitator George Galloway is looking to retain his seat at Rochdale which he seized from Labour in byelections earlier this year.

Galloway, one of the most divisive politicians in Britain, won almost 40 percent of the vote in a contest dominated by the issue of the war on Gaza.

After his stunning victory in February, he took aim at Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak in a victory speech that was interrupted by hecklers after a dramatic count at the Rochdale leisure centre.

“Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza,” he said. “You will pay a high price for the role that you have played in enabling, encouraging and covering for the catastrophe presently going on in occupied Gaza, in the Gaza Strip.”

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *