Journal article Open Access

Biraderi, Bloc Votes and Bradford: Investigating the Respect Party's Campaign Strategy

Peace, Timothy; Akhtar, Parveen

In March 2012, the Respect Party won an unexpected by-election in the British city of Bradford, previously regarded as a safe Labour seat. This article examines the party's campaign strategy and in particular how it courted South Asian Muslim voters. A dominant feature of South Asian Muslim politics in the UK has been community bloc voting along lines of kinship (biraderi). The use of kinship networks for political gain effectively disenfranchised many young people and women. We demonstrate how Respect used their experience of campaigning in constituencies with significant numbers of South Asian Muslim voters to achieve an unlikely victory in Bradford. A key strategy was to mobilise otherwise politically marginalised sections of the South Asian Muslim community by offering an alternative to the culture of patronage in Bradford whilst at the same time utilising certain community structures in order to gain their own bloc votes.

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