God (or Allah) bless the UK

The Swiss referendum shows why Britain is the best place for Muslims

The British media's relentlessly negative and inaccurate coverage of Islam and Muslims gets me down. So does the fact that "some . . . counter-terrorism powers will be disproportionately experienced by the Muslim community" (to quote the then Home Office minister Hazel Blears). The rise of the BNP ain't great, either. Nor is the arrival of Lord Pearson. And BBC1's Spooks, on which I'm hooked, can often be a depressing watch, with its rotating bevy of Muslim baddies.

It's tough being a Muslim in Britain -- as I'm sure the comment thread below will soon demonstrate.

But imagine living in a European country where 57.5 per cent of the population votes to ban the construction of minarets on mosques in a national referendum -- even though there are only four mosques with minarets in the whole country.

"Disproportionate" or what? The mind boggles . . .

Never have I been more pleased or proud to be a British Muslim -- rather than a Swiss, French, German, Italian or Danish one. God bless the UK!

 

UPDATE: Anthony Wells, over at UK Polling Report, has this fascinating, but perhaps disturbing, insight into the pre-referendum polling:

Over the weekend Switzerland voted in a referendum to ban minarets (the spires on mosques from which Muslims are called to prayer). The result of the vote was 57.5% in favour. Interestingly, though, the final poll before the referendum showed the opposite -- voting intention in the referendum stood at 37% YES and 53% NO . . . What strikes me . . . is that it's also the perfect example of the sort of question where there would be a high risk of social desirability bias . . . People may not have felt able to admit to a interviewer (the polls were conducted by phone) that they were going to vote in favour of a policy targetting Muslims and the "socially desirable" thing would have been to say they were voting against it.

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Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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