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The London Mayoral Elections

It is easy to forget with the domination of the EU referendum in current political debate that there are a number of elections that will take place in May, ahead of the plebiscite in June, which are no less important or interesting. It is perhaps something readers here would much rather forget given the disparaging manner in which these topics have been broached but race and religion have loomed large in recent weeks in the London mayoral and EU referendum campaigns.

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It is a matter of disgrace that while politicians are vocal and condescending about the need for British Muslims ‘to integrate’, a major tool to facilitate that process, political participation, has been diminished by the intermittent mudslinging we have witnessed.

I hope British Muslims will not be deterred by the, at times, incendiary campaigning and retreat from electoral and political engagement. Not least because these elections matter for a number of reasons, among them the elected offices that are being contested and the powers at their disposal.

The Hansard Society’s most recent Audit of Political Engagement based on a survey conducted in 2015 highlighted major issues relating to political participation among minority groups that we have known for some time. For example, interest in politics is higher among White groups than among people from BME backgrounds, 60% compared to 35%. Knowledge of politics follows a similar pattern with White groups more likely to report some knowledge than BME groups; 57% compared to 43%. Perhaps most concerning is the finding that fewer among BME groups say they were ‘certain to vote’ if an election were held tomorrow; 37% compared to 62% for Whites. With the elections just over a week away, that figure is a startling reminder of just why we have to work to overcome apathy among BME groups about voting as an essential building block to wider and deeper political engagement.

The survey also, rather optimistically, shows that BME groups are more likely to display higher levels of satisfaction with the current system of governance, 38% compared to 32% and are more likely to feel that getting involved is effective; 45% compared to 34%.

The Audit further observes a “strong correlation” between familiarity and favourability; that is, the more you know about political institutions and policies, the more likely you are to want to engage with it.

At MEND, we have been rolling out masterclasses on media and political literacy for four years now and we have designed these with this very purpose in mind: improving familiarity as a basis for advancing favourability. That is, increasing the likelihood of British Muslims engaging in politics and media by knowing more about both.

In 2012 we published a manifesto for the first Police and Crime Commissioner elections. One of our pledges was to ask candidates to commit to recording Islamophobia as a separate category of hate crime as is done with anti-Semitism. By 2014, we had secured commitments from 10 out of the 42 forces in England and Wales. In October 2015, the Prime Minister announced that all forces will be statutorily required to start recording Islamophobia as a separate category of crime from April 2016. This is just one example of how much change can be affected through engagement.

For the 2016 PCC elections, we have gone further and sought information on the costs of policing far right protests, which blight communities and place unnecessary burdens on police budgets. We have reviewed all the annual reports by PCCs over the last four years to evaluate progress on tackling Islamophobia, supporting victims and making it easier to report hate crime. We have assessed the quality of policing available to Muslim communities examining the number of third party reporting centres set up to serve local Muslims and uncovering group representation on Independent Advisory Groups to ascertain who speaks for Muslims in critical dialogue with the police (we are still looking for answers!). We have also published data disclosed under FOI (Freedom of Information) relating to the number of Channel referrals by police forces and the sectors responsible for referrals. Did you know the majority come from the education sector, or that recording the profession making the referral is non-mandatory meaning that even the numbers we have do not tell the whole story?

The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, has said that many of the problems associated with the PREVENT policy fester due to lack of transparency. I would say the problem is the whole PREVENT policy, but that does not diminish the relevance of greater transparency. So asking PCCs to publish data on Channel referrals annually on their websites, much like forces currently do in relation to stop and search, is one of the commitments we are seeking. The impact of stop and search practices on police and community trust has been widely acknowledged and data on stop and search is more accessible to maintain trust and bolster the principle of ‘policing by consent’. We want to see the same in relation to Channel because we think it no less harmful to relations between the police and the communities they are supposed to serve.

We have done all of this because we want Muslims to know more about what the office of Police and Crime Commissioner does and why familiarity with its powers and services can help Muslims engage with it more effectively. We want British Muslims to be in a position to air their concerns about local policing matters and to get elected officials to respond to their needs.

For the London Mayor and GLA elections we have produced a separate manifesto which covers a range of issues from policing to persisting inequalities facing Muslim Londoners. With the large proportion of British Muslims residing in the capital, after the national parliament, the London Mayor and GLA are the second most important political office in terms of decision making powers that impact on British Muslims.

The Metropolitan Police Service is the largest police force in the UK. 42.4% of all religious hate crime recorded in the UK occurred in London in 2014/15. In the same period, London accounted for almost a third (28%) of all police recorded hate crime motivated by racial or religious hostility. The Mayor of London is responsible for policing in the capital and we want Muslim Londoners to raise their concerns about the rising level of Islamophobic hate crime and what the Mayor and the Met are doing to tackle it.

Muslims suffer disproportionately from low levels of labour market participation compared to other groups, even when education and qualification levels are the same. Whereas 53% of Londoners aged 16-24 from White British backgrounds are in employment, just 33% of BME Londoners of the same age are in employment. Only recently the TUC revealed that BME graduates are 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed compared to their White counterparts. Data published today by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, reveals that Black and Asian graduates aged 21-30 have lower median salaries compared to White and Other ethnic groups.

Why in a city like London which accounts for 22% of the UK’s GDP and where the ethnic minority population accounts for 44% of the capital’s total are BME groups doing comparatively badly in the economy? And what will the next Mayor of London do to progress equality in the capital in housing, education and, yes, employment?

These are just some of the issues we are raising in these elections.

Last week, President Barack Obama told a young audience in London, “Reject pessimism, cynicism and know that progress is possible. Progress is not inevitable, it requires struggle, discipline and faith.”

We have published these manifestos because we want to encourage familiarity and drive favourability so that British Muslims might be better placed to play their part in advancing progress.



The full London Mayor & London Assembly Elections manifesto can be found here (67 pages)

A summary of the manifesto can be found here (8 pages) and a single-page summary here

About Dr Shazad Amin

Dr Shazad Amin is the CEO of MEND and a Consultant Psychiatrist working in the NHS. He qualified from the University of Manchester and undertook his psychiatric training in Nottingham. He has previously been a Director of Medical Education in the NHS and sat on the Greater Manchester Family Justice Board. He was a former trustee of MediConcern, a charity that provided health education and promotion to patients from ethnic minorities. He is also a former Trustee of ChildConcern, who provide education and training for professionals concerned with Childcare Law. He acts as an Expert Witness in Clinical Negligence cases, is a CQC Specialist Advisor and sits as a MPTS tribunal member. He has authored papers on psychosis, mental health and parenting and given lectures on topics such as diagnosing mental illness, depression in the South Asian culture, personality assessment, stigma of mental disorders and giving evidence in Court.


  1. The people who conceived you if you know who they were, were much more ignorant and idiotic to say the least.
    In every article you read through it just to takenout te negatives and attack Islam and Muslims or say something negative.
    Show me 1 article where your low life scum comments have been positive?
    Obviously ignoramus like you wont admit it in his own complete idiocy. Even an amoeba like you has 1 brain cell, maybe?

  2. Still as normal for a troll like you when I’ve totally humiliated you on another article you find another.
    You still have not answered the question?
    Why are you so islamophobic??

  3. I’m unhappy with this article because it centres around the use of the term BME which basically means anything but white British. It is a hegemonic (or umbrella) term which combines many diverse and disparate groups of people into what is presented and handled as one single homogeneous group. There are so many differences between and peculiarities with different ethnic groups in terms of their culture, religion, and language that a hegemonic term like BME is rarely useful in reality because it is too imprecise. Another problem with the widespread use of BME is the strong potential to erroneously assume that every ethnic group has the same needs and requirements as every other ethnic group, or the solutions which work well for one ethnic group works equally well for another ethnic group. In reality it is quite clearly not the case.

    A question I raise about the term BME is why exactly is black specifically sectioned out and mentioned? Why not use a term Asian and Minority Ethnic; Chinese and Minority Ethnic; or Muslim and Minority ethnic instead? My only explanation is that BME is a legacy from the 1970s when black was commonly used as a hegemonic term to describe anybody who was not white European, including people from certain ethnic groups – such as Chinese or Turkish – who would never describe themselves as black.

    If you actually think about it, BME is a totally obsolete and outdated term because it is too vague and meaningless to be useful but sadly it is entrenched and standard public sector terminology. The author of the article works for a public sector institution which has probably shaped the way that he thinks and the terminology that he uses.

    Finally, not all Muslims are BME. White Muslims of British and European origin also exist.

    The author discusses the Police and Crime Commissioner elections and how to encourage more Muslims to vote in them. However, he fails to realise that not everybody supports the existence of the Police and Crime Commissioner elections with many (including myself) believing that they should be abolished.

    There are also Muslims who are against the London Assembly and voted against it in the referendum. Do such people not have the right to abstain from such elections as they oppose the existence of the institution?


  5. Thanks for this article it raises some important issues. I too am dismayed by the lack of involvement of Muslims in the democratic process and the wider economy. I applaud the initiative you are taking. I do think, however, for more progress to be made there needs to be more introspection within the Muslim community. The figures you quote are stark and clearly something needs to be done. I am going to raise one factor that I believe plays a part in this. By far the biggest proportion of UK mosques are Deobandi. Deobandis believe that women should not leave the home unless necessary, and if doing so should be fully covered. When 50% of Muslims are actively discouraged from participating in the economy it is hardly surprising that a smaller percentage of the total population are economically active. Similarly, when Deobandi Imams teach that democracy is unislamic it should be no surprise that Muslims have a disproportionately low involvement in politics. We all have a part to play in working to remedy the poor figures that you quote, but unless there is a real desire for change from within, I fear little will change.

    • There is indeed much truth to what you say that the Deobandis shoulder much of the blame but it doesn’t stop at the ballot box. My bigger concern is the lack of interest, or even outright hostility, of Deobandi mosque and community leaders when it comes to campaigns against injustice or draconian legislation such as counter terrorism laws. CAGE is not supported (or in some cases opposed) by all but a tiny handful of Deobandi mosque and community leaders. Neither did the Deobandis make any efforts to back the campaign to block the extradition of Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan. Instead these campaign groups have to rely on the support of a small number of grassroots Muslims of the free thinking variety who’s minds have escaped the shackles of the local Deobandi mosque and community leaders.

      It’s not strictly true that Deobandis are politically inactive. Many Deobandi mosque and community leaders have a cosy relationship with the local Labour party. In some cases it’s part of community relationships but in other cases it’s to repay favours – some going back to the 1990s or even the 1980s – given by the Labour council or the MP such as planning permission for building a mosque or the giving out of taxi licences. This cosy relationship with Labour acts as a stain on democracy and jeopardises opportunities for local Muslims to contest elections under a party other than Labour or as independent candidates.

    • The mayor of London is a Muslim!!!!!
      Don’t you just love it.
      After years of anti Islamic spew from the media what do the capital of the UK vote for!
      A Muslim.

      • No, Abu mustafa.
        The electorate in London voted for a Labour Party candidate who happens to be a muslim. Given that Sadiq Khan is trammelled by the rules governing the mayor’s power and the London Assembly, he can’t do anything very islamic. Given that he voted to legalise same-sex marriage, has criticised muslim anti-semitism and has happily attended Hindu festivals, it isn’t likely that he’d want to do anything very islamic.

        • Still as normal for a troll like you when I’ve totally humiliated you on another article you find another.
          You still have not answered the question?
          Why are you so islamophobic??

          • Where have you “humiliated” me, my ignorant little chum?
            I’ve pointed out seceral times that I’m not islamophobic. I’ve also asked you to give instances of my islamophobia, You still haven’t.

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