The Muslim Vote and Marginal Constituencies 
Can The Muslim vote upset any Westminster candidates?

There are 36 Westminster constituencies where the 2010 election majority is less than the number of mosque spaces, by at least 1000, and another 17 where that number is at least 100. Mosque spaces do not equate to voters, or even, to be honest, to people. However they are quite a good proxy for the potential for a Bradford West effect, where George Galloway turned the established candidates' presumptions about ethnic minority voting upside-down. So what is the impact of the Muslim vote? Is it homogeneous and party-loyal? (No! - see for yourself.) And how do you reach it?

Does it matter? When the mainstream parties overlook the cultural influences that sway many in their constituencies, the results can be a shock to their complacency, as George Galloway demonstrated, but they can also be profoundly disturbing, as today's finding on Lutfur Rahman's exploitation of the Bangladeshi Tower Hamlets vote demonstrated, "The mayoral election in the east London borough will be rerun after Lutfur Rahman and his supporters were found to have been involved in vote-rigging, seeking spiritual influence through local imams, and wrongly branding his Labour rival a racist." So it does matter - if only a few have privileged access to a substantial part of the electorate, that is corruption. Countering corruption, gives everyone, here and now, access to that pert of the electorate. Here is Lutfur Rahman's erstwhile constituency, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Use our search tool to pick every mosque in any other local authority if you please.

And here is an Excel spreadsheet with the 53 constituencies and the data. It opens with a link for each constituency to the Google Map of the mosques/masjids in that constituency. This spreadsheet was updated on 9th May to change the hyperlinks to account for a recent change to the website's programs. (Note that Excel should give you a warning about unsecure internet links - if you are unhappy, try the search directly on the search feature instead, or download the much bigger PDF statistical report that compiles.)

The numbers are from the October 2014 release of the Statistics report, and the links to the live data will have some discrepancies with this due to the live list showing only the grade A, B and C data e.g. Bradford West has 48 places on the map list, and 53 below including grade D and E, though all are shown as rich-data landmarks on the map, so you aren't missing anything. More dramatically, Poplar and Limehouse has 22 on the statistics, but 33 grade A, B and C on the map, plus 1 grade D and 3 defunct, due to some recent groundwork by in the area.

Here's the simple list:

Constituency Mosques Total Winning Balance of Incumbent Member, 2014
Mosque Party Mosque capacity
Capacity over majority
Bradford West 53 40841 Lab>Rsp 35078 George Galloway (Respect)
Bradford East 29 22608 LD 22243 David Ward (LD)
Birmingham, Ladywood 42 30302 Lab 20197 Shabana Mahmood (L)
Birmingham, Hall Green 38 19145 Lab 15346 Roger Godsiff (L)
Blackburn 45 24365 Lab 14509 Jack Straw (L)
Leicester South 34 21435 Lab 12627 Jon Ashworth (L)
Dewsbury 21 13885 Con 12359 Simon Reevell (C)
Luton South 18 13390 Lab 11061 Gavin Shuker (L)
Rochdale 17 11800 Lab 10911 Simon Danczuk (L)
Walsall South 19 12390 Lab 10635 Valerie Vaz (L)
Birmingham, Yardley 13 10540 LD 7538 John Hemming (LD)
Oldham E & Saddleworth 13 6570 Lab 6467 Debbie Abrahams (L)
Manchester, Gorton 16 12130 Lab 5427 Gerald Kaufman (L)
Batley and Spen 17 9800 Lab 5394 Mike Wood (L)
Wolverhampton SW 5 5810 Con 5119 Paul Uppal (C)
Sheffield Central 13 5185 Lab 5020 Paul Blomfield (L)
Birmingham, Hodge Hill 42 14885 Lab 4583 Liam Byrne (L)
Bethnal Green and Bow 24 16050 Lab 4476 Rushanara Ali (L)
Brent Central 8 5400 LD 4055 Sarah Teather (LD)
Hampstead and Kilburn 7 4050 Lab 4008 Glenda Jackson (L)
Westminster North 4 5870 Lab 3744 Karen Buck (L)
Halifax 10 5095 Lab 3623 Linda Riordan (L)
Pendle 13 5960 Con 2375 Andrew Stephenson (C)
Burnley 10 4150 LD 2332 Gordon Birtwistle (LD)
Brentford and Isleworth 6 4130 Con 2172 Mary Macleod (C)
Dudley North 2 2800 Lab 2151 Ian Austin (L)
Bury North 6 4000 Con 1757 David Nuttall (C)
Bedford 7 2970 Con 1617 Richard Fuller (C)
Harrow East 4 5000 Con 1597 Bob Blackman (C)
Peterborough 7 6400 Con 1539 Stewart Jackson (C)
Southampton, Test 6 3870 Lab 1457 Alan Whitehead
Hyndburn 12 4490 Lab 1400 Graham Jones (L)
Lancaster and Fleetwood 6 1660 Con 1327 Eric Ollerenshaw (C)
Poplar and Limehouse 22 7250 Lab 1220 Jim Fitzpatrick (L)
Tooting 4 3550 Lab 1026 Sadiq Khan (L)
Keighley 7 3950 Con 1010 Kris Hopkins (C)
Nottingham East 14 7800 Lab 831 Chris Leslie (L)
Kingston upon Hull Nth 2 1450 Lab 809 Diana Johnson (L)
Leeds North East 5 5350 Lab 805 Fabian Hamilton (L)
Bolton North East 10 4860 Lab 776 David Crausby (L)
Hendon 2 880 Con 774 Matthew Offord (C)
Swansea West 4 1210 Lab 706 Geraint Davies (L)
Norwich South 4 950 LD 640 Simon Wright (LD)
Edinburgh South 3 900 Lab 584 Ian Murray (L)
Watford 3 1850 Con 425 Richard Harrington (C)
Nottingham South 8 2170 Lab 398 Lilian Greenwood (L)
Wakefield 4 2000 Lab 387 Mary Creagh (L)
Stockton South 3 650 Con 318 James Wharton (C)
Thurrock 1 330 Con 238 Jackie Doyle-Price (C)
Sherwood 1 400 Con 186 Mark Spencer (C)
Huddersfield 10 4630 Lab 158 Barry Sheerman (L)
Bolton West 1 200 Lab 108 Julie Hilling (L)

© Mehmood Naqshbandi 2015,

‘n/a’ – Not Available. Religious affiliation data is not published for Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Let's be clear what we are measuring here. The number of spaces in a mosque is a slightly subjective measure. For most prayers, the numbers attending will be small, even minute. For Friday Jumu'ah salaah, however, most masjids are full. Many are heaving; many have two, and some even three, sittings for Friday salaah. But a third of UK masjids have no facilities for women, and even those that do, have very few women attending. (A few of those even state, "no space for women at Jumu'ah", because they give priority to the crowds of men wanting to make Jumu'ah.) So these numbers are a proxy for the local male Muslim populations. Salaah is encumbent on adults, not children, so the numbers attending who are too young to vote, will be a very small proportion of the congregations. Not all nominal Muslims are conscientious practitioners, and not all will be present for every Friday Jumu'ah.

But in spite of these caveats, and arguably because of them, the numbers of spaces in UK mosques is a reasonable approximation to the number of adult males that see the political world through a consciously Muslim perspective, and can be doubled to include an approximation of a comparable number of like-minded Muslim women. (Just to test that out, if we assume that half of the Census Muslim population is eligible to vote (parents, over-18 children, grandparents), only in two of the 53 constituencies does the mosque capacity exceed half the residing Muslim populations, due to minor anomalies on where the masjids have been built. See the spreadsheet for the comparisons with local populations.)

In case you are unfamiliar with the website, you can find all the mosques/masjids in any UK constituency or ward by searching for the constituency or ward by name or part of its name in the search feature. If you don't know the name, just search on the relevant town or county. The results will include a link to each kind of match, e.g. searching for 'bradford' gives:
Search results for "bradford"

Towns: Bradford(80)
Localities: (central Bradford)(2)
Boroughs: Bradford(88)
Constituencies: Bradford East(28), Bradford South(3), Bradford West(48)
Wards: Bradford Moor(9)
Name and Address Matches(3)
where the number in brackets is the number of mosques or places such as hired halls included.

When you select a result, you will get the map page and a list of mosques or a summary for the area. You can then pick the individual mosques in the results:
Browse by constituency (specified for all mosques)
Browse by ward (specified for all mosques)
Easier to try than to explain!

The map loads with a landmark for each mosque, with colour and other codes to show its cultural affiliations, scaled to its size, etc. Click on the landmark to reveal a wealth of information - contacts, website, photos, charity link, and Google Streetview of the front door, and Bing 3D view.

Note that Google Maps has to load over two thousand landmarks, so this may be slow on old computers, and if you are accessing the search from a mobile phone, if you have allowed it to use your position, it will show you your nearest mosques instead.

Keep in mind that the mosque directory has very rich features, such as several thousand original photographs (we visit the mosques we list!), multiple checks for accuracy, and pinpoint location data, plus a Satnav download. Many other mosque directories are crude copies of data, without the technical skills or coverage to keep their data up to date, whereas we have been collecting this data since the late 1980s, update several times a week, and have detailed local histories to understand the local context.


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