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Understanding Your Voters

Wherever you are standing as a candidate...

… you are part of an amazing, mature

and enviable democracy with an
incredible history. A national story that is
In the 2010 General Election, British entwined with the histories of so many
Muslims will represent more than one
million eligible votes. To give this Proud of its vibrant diversity, Britain
some measure in terms of national today is home to people of many
averages, this equates to just over
1,500 voters per constituency across
different cultures, religions, colours,
all 650 seats. Importantly for our ethnicities and languages. And these
democracy, every constituency differences overlap and mingle as time
has some Muslim votes, although the goes on. That is certainly true of one
numbers vary greatly, from a cluster of voters: British Muslims.
handful of people at the lowest end to
over 30,000 votes at the highest end.
This guide is available to all candidates
standing in this election and has been
produced by the Policy Research Centre
to support your campaign team’s
understanding of British Muslim voters.
It will help you consider some issues we
What do people think will be important to Muslim voters,
based on research to explore this. Also,
really think? and just as important, it will help you
place anxieties many others may have
Read on to learn about concerning ‘the Muslims’ within a more
our focus groups. informed picture.

© 2010 Policy Research Centre

With the British Empire “The  way  politics  is  
giving way to the Common-
wealth, Muslims from the presented  today  
former colonies came as a
hardworking labour force doesn’t  translate  to  a  
to help rebuild this country
and also to seek their
economic benefits.
young  person”  

As the communities
settled and grew, new The UK Muslim population is 1.6 million
socio-economic challenges or 2% of UK households
and intergenerational issues Source: Census 2001
surfaced. Some competing
questions of identity also
emerged, but a gradual
process of integration 232 constituencies of England and Wales have
could be observed… a local Muslim population of over 1000

1 in 3 British Muslims
are Londoners

Over 50% of Muslims

are British born
...But, the terrorist
attacks in London on 7 July
2005 derailed that gradual
process as British Muslims, 86% of Muslims in England feel a strong
particularly young Muslims, sense of belonging to Britain
suddenly coming under
National average 87%. Source: CLG Citizenship Survey: Apr to Sept 2009
intense pressures and

Britain has one of Party ‘Generally Supported’

the most diverse Muslim by Religion (2005)
populations in the world, Christian Muslim
and the right social space, Voters Voters
where citizens feel secure,
valued and at home, can Conservatives 8% 10%
yield dividends of historic
proportions. Labour 70% 49%
In a global economy, having
a workforce and citizenry Lib Dem 12% 23%
with cultural connections
to the growth sectors of Won’t say &
10% 18%
the world economy can be
an invaluable asset, greatly
enhancing the prospects 100% 100%
for better relations
between ‘east and west’ in Electoral Commission BME Voter Survey, MORI 2005
a tense world.
ELECTION 2010 The Focus Groups
The Policy Research Centre conducted focus groups in the South,
Midlands and North of England, to explore issues important to Muslims.
Here is a summary of what the participants, who spanned three generations, said:

Rising intolerance and the rise of the far right “By  voting  you  can  try  to  
ISSUE stop  far  right  groups  
A Britain where attitudes towards anything ‘Muslim’ is
decidedly harsh - Muslims are made to be a ‘problem’ and  like  the  BNP  getting    
are at the receiving end of society’s many other problems - into  power”  
the rise of the BNP is part of a more worrying shift  
towards anti-Muslim racism which is becoming more
common. “We  live  parallel  lives  
between  communities  -­‐  
Recession and employment fears this  needs  addressing”  
ISSUE A bleak outlook and fears are felt by many - the rise and
rise of living costs - the number of young and older people
out of work - the widening gap in house prices from
“Education  is  the  real  
neighbouring areas - crime becoming normal - it is difficult
to find work whether or not one went on to further issue  in  this  country,    
education, but it is particularly difficult in the current even  adult  education”  
climate for Muslims to find employment - a real feeling that  
having a Muslim name on your CV counts against you!
“There  is  a  lack  of    
support  and  mentoring  for  
The rising cost of education
young  pupils  in    
ISSUE A have and have-nots society as quality education at inner  city  schools”  
compulsory and further levels becomes unreachable and  
increasingly beyond the reach of many - tuition fees are a
barrier and more needs to be invested in vocational “Domestic  issues  seem  to  
qualifications - there is too little support in inner city get  overlooked  because  
schools where pupils are consistently under achieving -
bigger mentoring schemes are needed for failing schools - we  are  spending  so    
concerned about institutional racism within the system of much  time  and  money    
education and how some Muslims were discriminated on  foreign  issues”  
against at universities.  
“We  need  to  concentrate  
Under investment in local communities our  minds  on  
ISSUE  domestic  issues”  
Taxes are not spent on local towns and community
infrastructures, but disproportionately on Government’s  
big plans - on response-repairing ‘broken society’ - and on “We  want  politicians  to  be  
fighting an unjust war - the contribution of the religious interested  and  represent  
voluntary sector is not rewarded - as a country we should
be more concerned about issues at home such as our  religious  values  too”  
education, healthcare, and public services in general.
Justice and living in a “police state”
“It’s  important  to  vote  as  
Much concern about encroaching legislation targeting these  decisions  affect  your  
Muslims – about stop and search fears - and misuse of life,  it’s  your  duty,  we  
powers - feelings of a whole faith group under watch - the
need for equality in the eyes of the law where Muslims are must  be  involved  in  our  
treated fairly and proportionately - a sense that racism and country’s  decision  
discrimination exists in institutions such as the Police the making”  
legal structures, such as the CPS – which are difficult to get
into these despite education and training when you are a
Muslim. “Boys  fear  being  stopped  
because  of  government  
policies,  Muslims  feel  
A Government selectively listening targeted”  
Government pays lip service to specifics that adversely or
chiefly affect Muslims - does not have the teeth to “9/11  changed  my  
challenge anti-Muslim views - and MPs are disinterested in outlook,  for  the  first  time  I  
them - dissenting Muslim voices on broader and foreign felt  I  had  to  justify  my  
policies are conveniently ignored.
religion  and  politicians  
don’t  understand  what  
that  is  like”  
Unethical foreign policy
ISSUE Strong feelings that there is dishonest and double speak by “Nearly  2  million  people  
the Government - that Britain is really pursuing unethical
political interests in the greater Muslim world - knowing
marched  against  the  war,  
full well the real cost is very high and very wrong! the  Government  paid  no  
attention  to  that”  
    
Research Centre Our services include:

The Policy Research Centre, based at the o Publishing research, briefing and seminar
  papers to facilitate dialogue.
Islamic Foundation in Leicestershire,
specialises in research, policy advice and o Providing training to enhance understanding
training on issues related to British Muslims. of Muslim communities.

The Centre brings together policy, academic o Responding to government consultations,

and community expertise to inform and papers and policy proposals or reforms.
shape current policy thinking. We work o Conducting surveys and opinion polls to
with civil society, Muslim communities and map Muslim policy concerns.
government, serving as a hub of analysis and
communication on policy matters and to o Providing resources, data and briefings to
community groups.
foster good community relations.

Policy Research Centre, Islamic Foundation, Ratby Lane, Markfield, Leicestershire LE67 9SY
01530 244 944 T 01530 244 946 F