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Wednesday Jun 7, 2023, Zul-qaadah 18, 1444 Hijri

Tory, Labour or Lib Dem? 2010 British election hinges on balance

04 May, 2010

By Amjad Malik

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Britain is surrounded by election blitz. All parties are trying to mesmerise their supporters in order to woo for their votes. 6 May 2010 Elections after leadership debate is going towards a balanced turn out and has become 3 party election. It may mean that no party gets the majority to form a strong govt. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg a fresh face without known baggage with his performance has shocked many and made this election interesting.

In this article we will see where the vote of 2 million Muslims out of which nearly 1 million are Pakistani and Kashmiri origin should ideally go when selecting a party to vote. Politicians in general are insensitive to the feelings of their voters and in particular 2 million Muslims. BNP freely lashed out on them but no one came to rescue. Hijab, forced marriage, immigration, terror legislation(s), stop and search figures are all but have become a ploy of harassing Muslims with nil results. If we see the record, minority voters are up for grab on cheap slogans like Kashmir resolution, religious freedom, more minority representation, elimination of racism and discrimination and equal opportunities but when we see the reality the results negate those claims.

Funny enough on 42 day detention bill, all Muslim members of Parliamen t voted in favour of that legislation, Tories and Lib dem opposed and only then labour lost the bill and Muslims had a narrow escape from another draconian law. On "operation pathway" of April 2009 where 10 Pakistani students were arrested on terrorism charges in Manchester were later issued deportation orders without our Muslim members speaking up openly for justice and fair play for them, even having a Pakistani origin justice Minister. No Pakistani origin member of parliament visited them in prison and or listened to their plight. Eight out of ten left Britain quietly in misery and protest.

Tories offer change, but their policy on Immigration is unclear. They wish to introduce quota system for visas but no one know the figures and how will they implement its policy. If the quota finishes in one calendar year who will be stopped and refused to enter UK that is uncertain, and unclear. That may include a student who has admission, a private medical patient with an appointment and or a key worker (cheff) who is offered a job at a restaurant and or someone`s spouse, parent and or children. Lib Dem though offer amnesty for thousands of illegal migrants working under the carpet for years in British economy to legalise them and bring them in open which goes well with the migrant voters. But on general policy their stance is not convincing and labour though have introduced a series of immigration legislation but their change of home office ministers and their on job training has made a mess of the whole immigration system. Its both parties inherited mess of decades which keeps bringing "immigration" as an election issue, though they do not need to.

Labour has introduced Australian style visa regime which cut down general migration but asylum policy is still indecisive, unclear and shabby. Tories decision making on delay caused hardship to many families in 90`s and their way of dealing with immigration was not reasonable either. However, labour comes strong when economy is concerned as Gordon has experience and the first hand credit that when world economy was nose diving , he came up to save banks which halted recession and stalled the demise of economic infra structure, otherwise most of us would have lost houses by now. Tory offers a change and economic prosperity but a new hand with no experience may turn out to be a gamble, good or bad, we do not know yet. Liberal democrats however has no experience of Govt in sh orter memory and history, but may turn out good seeing their! leader`s performance. On Europe Tories are to strengthen Britain and hold public poll to have their view on future and polices of European Union, however labour wishes to continue working closely with their European partners and isolation at this juncture seems a disadvantage to Britain. Lib dem though wishes to have a clear "yes" or "no" referendum from public on future of Europe.

One bigger question in election is Britain`s future role in Afghanistan and in "war on terror". Though some seeks to withdraw troops right now but they are in clear minority. Labour and Conservative wish to remain in Afghanistan in partnership with USA but are for gradual withdrawal and for better protection for its soldiers. Lib Dem though are critical of war and demands more transparency and public awareness in defence decision making. Wooden Basset have seen many corpses and no one has a clear key to bring those soldiers home safely and securely with a victory. Similarly on Foreign Policy though Lib dem do not wish to continue acting s a poodle but things are not likely to change as far as USA is concerned as all parties understand the need and use of US partnership and same is likely to continue by future govt(s). The situation may change a little, h owever, if two parties form the Govt which may introduce alliance Govt and more accountability and Parliamentary oversight.

For Muslims, a hung Parliament may be a good experiment and for Britain too after decades as if labour and lib Dem form the govt, lib dem`s idealism will curtail labour to go scot free and there will be a check and balance which will prevent UK to toe the US line with closed eyes and human rights situation may  improve. Debate and discussion may take longer to pass controversial bills and civil liberty will take some priority when the voters will have an advantage to change the scenario. However if labour looses with a big margin, Tories would like to overhaul immigration, economy, and community relations.

Tory majority though may bring change of hand in unpopular govt and a fresh leaf may be turned towards more pro UK with less interference of Europe and a major crack down on immigration. Whatever the resul ts, for Muslims unless they jointly unite and prioritise wha! t they n eed in Britain, they will continue to be duped at election times by each party claiming to offer a better package for the minority. Decision is simple they can send at least 25 Muslim members of parliament according to their demographic complexion and numbers. Unless they send their representatives on their own votes, they will continue to be lulled, on Kashmir, fairness, community cohesion, diversity and equal opportunities. It`s ironic that no high court judge is Muslim and only in the third term labour found a candidate fit to be a minister.

Finally Expenses scandal and far right British National party will have a calculated impact on these elections. Leadership debate though made the contest competitive and snatched some points from BNP who wishes all Muslims exit from Britain but still members of parliament will face a huge anger due to expenses scandal and a lot of independent candidates will snatch votes. In conclusion in order to retain stability and economic recovery Gordon Brown & labour may not be glossy but a realistic choice because of actions on recovery and experience of a decade as nobody would like to go to the unknown territory and Tory`s record of 90`s is bleak, but still Conservatives  offer a change. Idealism is the hall mark of Liberal Democrats who are for a fairer choice and they have made their place in normally a t wo party election in Britain. Having said that , If no clear majority is given by voters, they may be the king makers, so choice is of voters to think, research, match the claims, and then vote as your vote is precious and may change the destiny of many.

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