Masimba Musodza

Has Our Election Turned Into A Vote For/Against Israel?

One of the campaign posters for Middlesbrough & Thornaby East Constituency. Source: Scan by the writer

In barely fifteen hours, there will be a General Election in the United Kingdom. The General Election, which is tantamount to advice given to our Monarch by the people about who ought to form His Majesty’s next Government, is a key feature of our ancient yet dynamic democracy.

The different parties have been on the campaign trail, making pledges on the issues that the voting public has expressed great interest in over the years. Among these are immigration, the NHS, the economy, the welfare system.

I can’t help noticing how the Israel-Palestine conflict, particularly recent developments since October 7, 2023, has featured prominently in the campaign message of several politicians. Take the leaflet on the left, for instance. Does Ms Ameen really think that she is as much a representative of Gaza as she is of Middlesbrough, my town? Why make that point if it was not important to her and her constituents? (Er, the ones that will be required to cast their vote for her in Middlesbrough, that is)

Her party, the Workers Party, is led by George Galloway, who holds an honorary Palestinian Passport. It ostensibly stands for the British working class, and her Facebook campaign page has made noises about addressing the “Gender Pay Gap,” but only after growing complaints in the comment section about the excessive focus on Gaza. On her private page, she posted on the 2nd July 2024, “We need to vote for Workers Party of Britain as they are the only ones speaking up for palestine. Dont waste your vote by not voting. Use your voice. Use your vote.”

Mr Ahmed stood as an independent, winning 11% of the votes. According to ITV’s website, he had the backing of George Galloway. Mr Yakoob is now seeking election into Parliament on the 4th of July, and is still putting Gaza on the forefront of his campaign.

Local elections are not spared either. Across the length and breadth of this country, there are people seeking office in the boroughs and counties, not because they promise to oversee an improvement in the collection of our bins, but because they stand for Gaza! And that seems to be enough for them to emerge as credible candidates for the elections.

Of course, there are a number of international issues, there are flashpoints of conflict around the world, that the British public is deeply concerned, and rightly so. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has seen an influx of refugees from that country. The war in Sudan. The murder of Christians in northern Nigeria by their Muslim compatriots.  The British public is aware of these conflicts, as they are not only covered by the media, but there are often people who come from these places who can engage us in conversations in our own communities about them.

One cannot help noticing that ALL of the candidates who put Gaza at the top of their campaign talking points are of Pakistani origin. If a White British commentator were to make a similar observation about the candidates, they would be branded a racist. Pakistan’s stance on Israel and the Jewish people has been articulated adequately. What is never discussed, especially in British society, is the electoral practices of Pakistani-British people, and their relationship with the Labour Party and fringe groups like Galloway’s The Workers’ Party.

I agree that everyone in Britain has the right to choose which international issues they would like His Majesty’s Government (and the local authorities) to address, and do not think this should be denied to someone just because they are of Pakistani heritage. Fact remains, though, there are no other politicians of immigrant backgrounds seeking votes in a British election by articulating the foreign policy of their country of origin! Indeed, if any such politicians were to do so, they would be accused of seeking to subvert the United Kingdom to the ends of a foreign power!

It seems bizarre, but it does appear as if Britain’s General Election is focused disproportionately on the Israel-Palestine conflict. This is what many of the politicians running are demanding of the electorate. This means that people who would otherwise be indifferent to the conflict are being asked to make it more important than the things that really matter to them, like getting the bins collected regularly or an economy that has inflation under control. People who agree with Mehmoona Ameen on the Gender Pay Gap are going to stop and ask themselves if it is really worth electing someone who wants Israel to surrender to terrorists to keep their favourite issue on the national agenda in Westminister.
Even after the conclusion of the General Elections, I would like to see more conversations around the propriety of British elections being used as pawns for the foreign policies of other nations.

About the Author
Masimba Musodza is a novelist, screenwriter, essayist, blogger and actor of some note, with work published all over the world and online. He was born and grew up in Zimbabwe, but has lived in the UK since 2002.
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