Dawn – Four Pakistani-origin women contribute to surge in Labour votes

Atika Rehman & Jingnan Huo

London, 10 June 2017. The Labour party’s British-Pakistani female candidates beat contenders by impressive margins, results released a day after the United Kingdom’s parliamentary election showed on Friday.

The four Pakistani-origin women candidates given tickets by the Labour party took to their social media accounts and thanked voters and supporters for a tremendous turnout.

Naz Shah, who contested from Bradford West, was re-elected despite facing a vicious campaign during which she was heckled and called a ‘Jew’ and ‘Zionist’ as she spoke to potential voters days before election day.

Ms Shah bagged 29,444 votes and retained the seat, securing 64.7 per cent of the total votes cast. She beat Conservative candidate George Grant (7,542 votes) and another British-Pakistani, Independent candidate Salma Yaqoob (6,345). In 2015, Ms Shah secured 19,977 votes.

Born and raised in Bradford, the 41-year-old mother of three is a women’s rights campaigner and the former chair of a mental health charity.

“I will continue to fight Islamophobia, misogyny, antisemitism and all other prejudices that we face on a daily basis,” Naz Shah tweeted to followers days ahead of the polling.

Shabana Mahmood, the Labour candidate from Birmingham Ladywood, secured 82.7pc (34,166) of the total votes polled and was re-elected to her constituency.

Ms Mahmood defeated Conservative party’s Andrew Browning (5,452 votes) and Liberal Democrat Lee Dargue (1,156 votes).

In 2015, she had secured the victory with 60.89pc (21,868) of the total votes polled.

A former barrister, Ms Mahmood worked for the treasury and on international trade. She protested the European Council of Justice’s banning of clothes of faith.

Yasmin Qureshi from Bolton South held her seat securing 60.7pc (25,676) of the total votes cast in her constituency. She beat Conservative party’s Sarah Pochin (12,550 votes) and UKIP candidate Jeff Armstrong (2,779 votes).

In 2015, Ms Qureshi had secured 50.45pc (10, 928) of the total votes polled.

Rosena Allin-Khan from Tooting was re-elected after securing 59.6pc (34, 694) of the total votes polled. She beat Conservative Dan Watkins (19,236 votes) Liberal Democrat’s Alexander Grassbrook (3,057 votes).

In 2015, Ms Allin-Khan had secured 47.19pc (25,263) of the total votes polled.

An emergency room doctor, Mr Allin-Khan is proud of her working class roots and Pakistani-Polish heritage. She has raised her two children as Muslims.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan extended full support to Ms Allin-Khan, who is his successor in Tooting. “Here in Tooting, we’re going door to door, street to street until 10 pm for Dr Rosena,” Mr Khan tweeted on Thursday night. The following morning, he hailed her victory as an “incredible result”.

This story is part of a reporting project with Dawn, the Centre for Excellence in Journalism at IBA and the Medill School at North­western University.



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