THE Muslim vote is not a monolith, but there are strong ties to our fundamental values that cannot be overestimated. How can we reconcile these in the next General Election and what should we consider before making our choice?

The UK has seen considerable changes since the last election, and the topical issues of the last year seem to have only grown stronger. The single issue of “getting Brexit done” is long past, but years of topsy-turvy Conservative policies aimed at stoking tensions – along with an opposition that appears to be overly committed to maintaining large parts of the status quo – means the future may look ever bleaker.

This General Election comes with a fresh set of divisive issues that threaten to once again isolate and polarise communities in Scotland.

Without a voice for everyone, it could be another five years of demonisation and narrative-shifting that rewards nothing for all, but everything for the few.

Nowhere is this sentiment felt more than within the Muslim community. From Gaza to the rhetoric around extremism and immigration, they grow tired of being deliberately misinterpreted for clicks.

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It is notable that Scottish Muslims represent only 2.2% of the population. Despite the minute quantity in relation to the rest of the population, our intentions for the betterment of Scotland lie firmly in line with many non-Muslims in the country. We both hope for better representation for our communities and country as a whole in Westminster, on a platform that truly aims to broadcast the overall voice of Scotland as loudly as possible.

Thus, the optimal choice is one that achieves the maximum representation for ourselves, whilst factoring in the reality of our two-thirds party system.

We already understand the dire impossibility of voting Conservative. Some may choose to stay with them due to the attractive principles of “meritocracy and individual achievement” that is somewhat ingrained into the immigrant story of hard work and sacrifice.

However, neither has been demonstrated by this government. Instead, they have resorted all their efforts to punching down on those who came to this country for the same inspiration they preach.

A large consideration is that we in Scotland do have a realistic alternative in the SNP. Some may not approve of the severance of the Bute House Agreement, whilst others may not support the Hate Crime Bill and other SNP policies of the past. Even independence has its dissenters. But the root objective of representing Scotland at every opportunity possible is solely an SNP ambition.

The National: Early defences of Israel by figures such as Emily Thornberry have done little to gain the trust of MuslimsEarly defences of Israel by figures such as Emily Thornberry have done little to gain the trust of Muslims

They do not have the itch for a governmental position so enamoured by the Conservatives or Labour. There’s no vital requirement to abandon almost all of their set policies to attract a minor number of voters from the other end. This awards the SNP the ability to be wholly consistent in their messaging.

And no message has been more consistent than the SNP’s stance on Gaza, an issue that has been shockingly mishandled by the Labour Party, and their initial stance incongruous with and shocking to lifelong Muslim voters.

Cemented with Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer’s comments defending the cutting of water to Gaza, it confirms to us that a changed Labour Party is one that represents everyone – to the detriment of their past values. Not having a firm and consistent opposition to the war presented to the government in the House of Commons by the official opposition is a clear sign Labour have deliberately changed for the worse.

Especially given a considerable proportion of the electorate oppose the war, it somehow falls to the third-largest party to force the argument into the spotlight.

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The idea that politicians serve for selfish power reasons, versus to better society will be tested the most this General Election.

And it is poignantly demonstrated with Labour bringing on board Tory MPs, rubbing salt into the wound.

It’s not cool to be a Tory. It speaks volumes that defectors chose Labour to reinvent their brand before this election, hinting at the similarity again that was feared to occur between the two parties.

There is nothing wrong with Labour shifting further to the centre, but when they start voluntarily accepting more of the Tory camp and or ideals than we can stomach, then our disappointment needs to be shown.

To hammer this home, with policies such as Rwanda, it is not the potential human rights violations or dangerous precedent-setting, but the fact that it is inefficient or gimmicky is Labour’s problem with the policy. Even when Labour differentiates from this abysmal plan, it’s only because the Tories were bad designers.

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It has been shown through the former first minister Humza Yousaf (above), that the SNP are interested in the views of the Muslim community. In fact, with every minority community.

Coupled with their stance on Gaza and a desire to dig us out of the cost of living crisis, beginning with eradicating child poverty, the SNP’s policies and views convey to the Muslim community that our vote is best placed in the hands of advocates for Scotland – not those who will take our vote for granted, as bonus points to their potentially immense seat count.

Especially when there is a fighting chance for the alternative choice to shine through in Scotland, we must consider it and do away with settling with the traditional back and forth between the two main parties as there is a chance for our optimal choice to be heard.

Sameer Hussain is a student studying economics at Heriot-Watt University. Currently serving as Equalities Officer for YSI Lothian