UK Election 2024

New independent MP Iqbal Mohamed: ‘We have taken democracy back’

Pro-Palestine candidate fought off Labour’s Heather Iqbal in Dewsbury and Batley, with young Muslim voters seen as key to his victory

Photos courtesy of Iqbal Mohamed
Pro-Gaza independent Iqbal Mohamed says he is ‘elated’ to have won the new seat of Dewsbury and Batley from Labour. Photos courtesy of Iqbal Mohamed

The independent pro-Palestine candidate who trounced Labour in West Yorkshire last night says voters there have “taken democracy back”.

Iqbal Mohamed, who won 41.1% of the vote to beat Labour’s Heather Iqbal, spoke to Hyphen hours after his historic victory in the newly formed seat of Dewsbury and Batley.

“The people have woken up,” he said. “They are now looking at what these parties and previous politicians have or have not done and they are making informed decisions.

“I was able to connect with everybody on the doorstep and there were very few people who had already made up their mind. I believe that in Dewsbury and Batley, we have actually taken our democracy back.”

Labour had been accused of attempting to split the seat’s Muslim vote by fielding Heather Iqbal, who is from nearby Bradford. Mohamed had been chosen as a unity candidate following a hustings, with every other independent candidate opting to pull out.

But in the end, Heather Iqbal won only 22.9% of the vote, dropping 36 percentage points compared with previous local results. Her loss gave Mohamed a majority of nearly 7,000.

One Muslim voter, who asked not to be named, told Hyphen he believed young people had played a decisive part in Mohamed’s victory by following their consciences instead of family pressures.

“Previously in elections, we’ve had people in our community who are often swayed by some of the older members who have been long-term Labour members,” he said, “and they’ve had quite a deep influence. [Yesterday] people turned on their elders and you can see the results for yourself.”

He also claimed Heather Iqbal had been “nowhere to be seen” on the campaign trail.

IT consultant Ahmed Khan is among those who voted for Mohamed and said he had expected a much more marginal result. 

“I’m elated that he won and that the campaigning was not in vain,” he said, “given Labour had placed a candidate that would have appealed to die-hard Labour supporters that the independent campaigners were hoping to tap into.

“It also showcases the feeling that people want to be heard and issues around the globe, specifically Gaza, are at the heart of this.”

The area’s new MP will tomorrow travel to London for the latest protest against Israel’s siege of Gaza and Britain’s complicity with the killing — the first such march to take place under a Labour government. And from next week, he says, he will hold meetings with constituents and groups from across the area to hear their concerns.

Mohamed said he is optimistic about what the election result will mean for Britain.

“I’m hopeful that the Labour government will be fairer than the last Tory government when it comes to investment and levelling up and actually targeting their support to the more deprived areas across the UK.”

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