By Khalil Charles

Election word cloudWith just five months left, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Muslim vote could be a deciding factor in who wins the next general election.

Political analysts have identified three main reasons why the Muslim vote could be so important. Firstly, the Muslim vote could make a difference in more than 30 marginal seats. Secondly, the amount of new Muslim voters eligible to vote for the first time suggests voting may not take place on traditional lines. And thirdly, disenchanted Muslim voters may swing away from Labour party, presenting the opportunity for the Tory and Lib Dems to capitalise.

In November last year, Baroness Warsi – who earlier resigned from the government in protest at its stance in Gaza –  acknowledged that the Conservatives were ‘dead in the water’ and that it was going to be ‘incredibly difficult’ to win the Muslim vote. However, it appears that Conservative campaign chiefs have not yet given up. Lynton Crosby the Tory campaign boss has done much to attend fringe Muslim events in the hope to sway undecided or disenchanted voters.

Recent polls have indicated that although 50% of Muslims identify with the Labour, only 40% of the Muslim vote in 2010 went to Labour. The growing disaffection means that there are a growing number of marginal seats that could be decided by the Muslim vote.

Recent polls also indicate that there are three key issues that Muslims voters care about: jobs, NHS and education. Writing on the Muslim News website, Sarmad Hasan pointed out that Muslims are facing discrimination in jobs, they want to see a strong NHS not threatened by cuts and they believe the majority of Muslim schools are being demonized by the government.

He goes on to say that political parties need to understand the issues that Muslims care about and they need to engage with the Muslim Community by publicising the party’s policies through hustings, meetings, Muslim national bodies and the Muslim media.

The website published a list of constituencies where the Muslim Vote is important. They include: 2 constituencies in Birmingham, 1 in Manchester, Oldham, Pendle, Peterborough, Luton and a number of constituents in West and North London.

Over the forthcoming weeks, it’s expected that there will be increased pressure to attract the Muslim vote. Ed Milliband, the Labour leader has talked about having 4 million conversations on door steps and that will no doubt include quite an important number of Muslim homes.