[The study also found that far from being an endangered species, Christians are still overwhelmingly dominant in the UK. (Photo: Reuters/Paul Hackett) ]
London: A study conducted by an anti-extremism thinktank revealed that the Muslim votes could swing power in as many as 25% of the total seats, whereas Hindus have a clear edge in over 8% of the total seats in next week's British general election.
The study conducted by The Henry Jackson Society (HJS), entitled Religious Diversity in British Parliamentary Constituencies, has shown that, in the 2010 election, the number of Muslims was larger than the margin of victory in 159 seats out of the 632 total seats in the vote, according to Newsweek.
It also shows that Hindus constitute a greater number than the margin of victory in 51 seats (8.1%), 40 of which are marginal seats; Sikhs constitute more than the margin of victory in 34 seats, 25 of which are marginal seats; Buddhists represent more than the margin of victory in 15 seats (2.1%), which are all marginal; and Jews number more than the margin of victory in 13 constituencies (2.1%), 11 of which are marginal seats.
"This study provides a fascinating look at Britain's changing religious demographic dynamics and how they are concentrated in relation to political power," Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of The Henry Jackson Society and author of the report, said.
The thinktank claims that the study is the first of its kind, breaking down constituencies by religion and, while avoiding saying that religious communities block vote, suggests that a presence of a religious minority in an area will influence the outcome of the seat.
"Though members of minority religions in a particular constituency will not necessarily vote in a uniform manner, there are some scenarios in which the presence of a religious minority has significant potential influence on the outcome, particularly within marginal seats," wrote Mendoza.
"Among the 93 marginal seats where one or more minority religions outweighs the margin of victory, Islam outweighs the majority vote in 90 (96.9%); Hindus in 40 (43.0%); Sikhs in 25 (26.9%); Buddhists in 15 (16.1%); and Jews in 11 (11.8%)," he added.
The report, which matches political data from the 2010 election against census data on Britain's religious make-up, shows that foreign-born voters will constitute more than 50% of the voters in two London constituencies, Brent North and East Ham, while a third will make-up the electorate in 25 seats and a quarter will make up the voters in a further 50 seats. It adds that London and the West Midlands are the most religiously diverse regions in Great Britain while the North East is shown to be the least diverse.
The study also found that far from being an endangered species, Christians are still overwhelmingly dominant in the UK.
“Great Britain remains a Christian-majority country – approximately six in every 10 residents identifies as Christian. The smallest Christian share of any constituency is 24.2 percent in Leicester East in the East Midlands, and the largest share is 81.5 percent in Knowsley in the North East", the study said.
Earlier this week British Prime Minister David Cameron claimed the first black or Asian Prime Minister would be a Conservative.
"I think lots of black Britons look at the values of the Conservative Party and think we agree with you about family and community. The holdback has been people asking themselves if they can get up and get on with the Conservative Party and you can see now that you can", he said.
However, just 11 of the 11 Tory MPs elected in 2010 were black or Asian, including Sajid Javid and Baroness Warsi. The party won just 16% of the ethnic minority vote five years ago.
Meanwhile, which party British Muslims will throw their lot remains unclear, given a backdrop of foreign wars, UK support for Israel and repressive Gulf States, and the trimming of civil liberties in the name of national security.
Earlier this month, a noted Muslim human rights campaigner blasted the state of British electoral politics. Cerie Bullivant of the advocacy group Cage said: “My personal belief is you are voting for the wolf that is going to eat you and that is a sad state of affairs.
“I wish it wasn’t like that and there were people who were standing for civil liberty and that they could protect the rights of everybody,” he told the Ilford Recorder.
Added to this view is a broad shift in opinion among young Muslims away from the parties to which they had traditionally been loyal. Assed Baig, 34, is a journalist who frequently covers issues affecting the Muslim community in his home city of Birmingham.
He told RT the impact of the Iraq War on Muslims’ perceptions of Labour was “massive,” alienating thousands of potential supporters.
“The elders in the community generally stayed loyal, meaning the party members. But it also meant loads just didn't vote. Basically if you're an inner city Muslim, slugging it out, who appeals to you? No one,” Baig said.