The Muslim percentage of the vote in English and Welsh seats in which the Conservative majority is less than five per cent –
Amber Valley 0.2
Brentford and Isleworth 12.5
Brighton, Kemptown 1.9
Bury North 8.2
Camborne and Redruth 0.2
Enfield North 13.5
Halesowen and Rowley Regis 4.4
Harrogate and Knaresborough 0.4
Hastings and Rye 1.1
Lancaster and Fleetwood 1.8
Morecambe and Lunesdale 0.4
Newton Abbot 0.2
North Warwickshire 0.4
Northampton North 3.7
Oxford West and Abingdon 2.2
Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport 1.4
St Albans 4.8
Stockton South 2.9
Truro and Falmouth 0.3
Warrington South 1.2
Weaver Vale 0.3
Wolverhampton South West 6.8
Cardiff North 3.0
Sayeeda Warsi is reported this morning as saying again that the Conservatives will lose the Muslim vote in 2015. Whether or not this is so, how important is this vote in any event?
Three points at the start.
First, all votes are important to the Party – and from the point of view of winning next May particularly in marginal seats – whatever the religious view of those who cast them.
Second, the concept of a “Muslim vote” is controversial. Many Muslims vote in much the same way as their fellow countrymen of all religions and none. However, there clearly is a block vote among some voters who practice Islam, particularly those whose origins lie in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Kashmir (as I know from experience in Wycombe).
Finally, measuring the impact of this vote is very difficult. Some people will use one means and some another.
I asked Ian Warren of Election Data for a list of seats that the Conservatives are defending next year with a majority of less than five per cent. This seemed to me not a bad measure of the Muslim vote in key marginals. Others will doubtless disagree, and have an alternative of their own.
What does this list show?
There are four seats in it with a double-digit percentage of Muslim voters – Dewsbury, Hendon, Enfield North, and Brentford & Isleworth. I’ve marked their figures in green. And there are 16 where the proportion comes in at less than one per cent. I’ve marked their figures in our standard hot pink.
As I say, every vote matters in a tight election. It is therefore possible to argue that the Muslim vote could swing the result in any of those 16 – in Carlisle and Lincoln, Montgomeryshire and Newton Abbott. I find this far-fetched. You may disagree.
It is more credible to maintain that it will matter in Bury North and Watford – at 8.2 per cent apiece – or in Bedford at 7.9 or even Halesowen and Rowley Regis at 4.4.
A line must be drawn somewhere. I will scrawl in it in every one of these in which the Muslim vote nudges above three per cent: I make that 12 seats – not a large number, but one that could matter in a tight election.
Coming soon: The Muslim percentage of the vote in seats in which the Conservatives are second – but the majority of the winning party in 2010 was less than five per cent.
Footnote: where on earth does IEngage get its figure of 77 seats from?