- Lib Dems seize Brent East victory
The Brent East parliamentary bye-election held on 18 September 2003 provided
British Muslims with dramatic evidence of their potential strength in the political
process. A Labour majority of 13,000 in the last General Election in June 2001
was replaced by a win for Lib Dem by a margin of 1100, in no small measure because
the Muslim population of Brent – comprising over 12% of the Borough –
broke the pattern of being either politically apathetic or loyally Labour.
All the political parties wooed the Muslim vote through targeted mailshots.
The Labour Party even brought in bete-noire Mayor Ken Livingstone to canvas
on its behalf.
sent by Labour candidate Robert Evans to Brent East Muslim residents
When Ken Livingstone and I came to Cricklewood and Willesden
Green Mosques I was so impressed by all the work that was being done in
I cam to hear the views of Muslims about local issues.
As a result of what I heard, I will take action.
I will work for a solution to the issue of parking during
I am a strong supporter of the Islamia primary School,
set up thanks to Labour legislation, which for the first time puts Islam
on an equal footing with every other religion in Britain….
I will work closely with London Mayor Ken Livingstone
on issues that concern Muslims across London…..
Ken Livingstone says:
“As your MP until 2001 I opposed Islamophobia in
all its forms and campaigned for the rights of Muslims to educate their
children in religious schools.
As Mayor I have carried on this work, defending Halal
from those who would ban it and recognizing the unique contribution that
Muslim Londoners make to our city…..
I have no hesitation
in recommending Robert Evans to Muslims in Brent…Robert Evans will
be a friend to the Muslim community in Brent….
The pleas were of no avail. A community that had been taken for granted by
Labour showed that it had a mind of its own, and the will to express it through
the ballot box. This has the potential of changing the British political landscape
at the next General Elections to be held within the next two years.
happens when 6,000 Muslim voters are alerted by community groups to their
being taken for granted? Brent East. The Labour party rightly concludes
that Brent East's 13% Muslim population was frustrated by the Iraq war.
But this was not their only concern. Muslims feel an acute sense of betrayal
and marginalisation - a lifetime of unwavering support cuts no ice with
New Labour. When fair representation would require 25 Muslim MPs, we have
Islamophobia and racism are rife in New Labour. Muslim Labour supporters
need to do some soul-searching. People like Shahid Malik, who sits on Labour's
national executive, ought to wake up to the reality that he is a token gesture.
He is allowing his credibility, in working for racial equality and as an
anti-BNP campaigner, to be used to legitimise that which he has fought all
In contrast, the Liberal Democrats have actively been
encouraging Muslims as parliamentary candidates. Mr Malik ought to consider
jumping ship - he wouldn't be the first high-profile Labour loyalist to
Muslim Public Affairs Committee