Who are the five pro-Gaza independents that won UK seats?

While the Labour Party won by a landslide, the party saw a loss in its core Muslim voters, who chose to back pro-Gaza independents instead [GETTY]

The New Arab noticed early on that the war on Gaza would be a major factor for many people when casting their vote in the recent UK general election, and this was reflected in the final election results.

While Keir Starmer’s Labour Party won by a landslide majority, the party lost many Muslim votes, with a significant number of what is usually its core voter base choosing to back pro-Palestine independents instead.

The final election result saw five pro-Gaza independents win seats, much to the chagrin of many right-wing publications such as The Telegraph, which called the wins a “sectarian insurgency” in what many consider to be loaded Islamophobic language.

But who are these candidates and what about Gaza, and the manner in which the mainstream parties relate to it, motivated them to run? Were there other factors at play beyond Israel’s devastating war on the Palestinian enclave?

The New Arab looks at who exactly these five pro-Gaza independents are.

Shockat Adam

The optician, according to The Telegraph, “shockingly” beat shadow Cabinet minister Jonathan Ashworth by just under 1,000 votes in the Leicester South constituency.

Speaking to The New Arab pre-election, Adam said if elected, he would give the people of Gaza “a voice and call out for their safety and call out for the cessation of selling of arms to Israel”.

After winning, Adam proudly lifted the Palestinian keffiyeh, saying: “This is for the people of Gaza.”

While Palestine was one of his main policy pledges, Adam was also concerned with protecting the NHS, promoting affordable housing, helping the youth and education, enhancing the city’s business landscape, educating community safety and crime prevention,  as well as tackling the cost-of-living crisis.

Jeremy Corbyn

Former UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn secured 24,120 votes, beating Labour candidate Praful Nargund in Islington and North.

Corbyn advocated for a Gaza ceasefire since 7 October. The MP has also attended and spoke at almost all of the pro-Palestine marches organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The veteran left-winger said he was running because of the “undemocratic behaviour” of the Labour Party and to deliver a message of hope for people living in poverty, as well as opposition to wars in Sudan, Yemen, Congo and Ukraine.

After winning, Corbyn said their community had “made history”, adding that his win “gives us a glimpse of a different future”.

Ayoub Khan 

Khan beat England’s first Muslim MP, Khalid Mahmood, with almost 500 votes in Birmingham Perry Barr.

The Former Liberal Democrat councillor quit the party after being told he had to “hush up” about Gaza if he wanted to be a candidate for the constituency. He was also critiqued by the party leadership for posting a TikTok video that questioned the credibility of what happened during the Hamas attack on 7 October.

Khan said he was standing “following the reluctance to be silenced on the topic of Gaza” by his former political party. He also noted that the cost of living, crime, antisocial behaviour, homelessness, unemployment, and health services would all be “key priorities” for him if elected.

After winning, the MP wore a scarf filled with the Palestinian flag and dedicated his win to the people of Gaza, saying his campaign had been about justice, fairness and equality, whether it was a local, national or international issue.

Adnan Hussain

Hussain won with 10,518 votes in Blackburn, beating Labour’s Kate Hollern by just 162 votes.

The solicitor was supported by the 4BwD (Blackburn with Darwen) group, a group of local councillors who had resigned from the Labour Party over its response to Israel’s war on Gaza.

Hussain said he promises to “make your concerns about the injustice being inflicted upon the people of Gaza be heard loud and clear in the places where our so-called representatives have failed.”

“I say no to supporting a genocide,” Hussain added.

The Telegraph reported that Hussain once told a public rally, “Let’s make Israel burn”, in 2014, but he later told the publication that “he was speaking from a place of very high emotion triggered by what I very clearly state in the speech in question – a genocide.”

He said that he was calling for a boycott of Israel and his reference to burning should be “interpreted in this vein”.

“This is for Gaza. I cannot deny that I stand here as the result of a protest vote on the back of a genocide,” Hussain said as he won.

Hussain also spoke about helping small businesses and enterprises in his community create better opportunities for young people and support vulnerable people.

Iqbal Mohamed

Iqbal Mohamed beat Labour Candidate Heather Iqbal by almost 7,000 votes in the new constituency of Dewsbury and Batley. It was the first time an independent candidate had won the seat since 1907.

Like Hussain, Mohamed also quit the Labour Party over its stance on Gaza. He was selected by an independent panel of two community groups, North Kirklees Community Action Group and Independent Kirklees, to run for the election.

The engineer and IT consultant said he would fight not only for a ceasefire and a two-state solution, but also to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, fight to save the NHS and Dewsbury hospital, fund all essential services, town regeneration, safer streets and environmental and consumer safety and protection.

Mohamed said his win was due to “a combination of several things,” not just his pro-Palestine stance.

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