UK election 2024: Labour’s Shabana Mahmood fends off challenge from Akhmed Yakoob

Mahmood faced a close race after Yakoob slashed her majority of 28,582

Areeb Ullah

Yakoob gained prominence after coming third in the West Midlands Mayoral race with 70,000 votes (Supplied)

Labour’s shadow justice secretary, Shabana Mahmood, secured reelection in Birmingham Ladywood early on Friday, after beating pro-Palestine and independent candidate Akhmed Yakoob by just under 3,500 votes.

According to an official tally, Mahmood secured 15,558 votes in the previously safe Labour seat, with 42.5 percent of the vote share, whilst Yakoob came second with 12,137 votes, leaving Mahmood with a 3,421 majority in the seat.

In the last election in 2019, Mahmood secured 33,355 votes, boasting a staggering majority of 28,582 votes, with her total vote share standing at 77.6 percent.

Despite her victory, the drop in vote share will be a cause of concern Labour Party officials and leader Keir Starmer, who suffered significant losses across the UK over the devastating conflict in the Middle East.

Mahmood had faced fierce criticism from large segments of the Muslim community, one of the most deprived constituencies in the country, an area where nearly half of all children live in poverty and high levels of unemployment, for abstaining on a Gaza ceasefire vote and her refusal to resign from the shadow cabinet. 

Starmer also came in for heavy criticism from many campaigners for comments he made early in the conflict in which he said Israel had the right to withhold power and water from civilians in Gaza.

That anger was compounded late last year when the party refused to back a Scottish National party motion calling for an immediate ceasefire.

In February, Mahmood acknowledged that Labour had lost the trust of British Muslim voters over the party’s stance on the war.

Yakoob, a 36-year-old defence solicitor, was riding a wave of support heading into the election and campaigned heavily on TikTok, where he garnered fame for giving off-the-cuff legal advice and showing off his fleet of luxury cars. 

In May, Yakoob made headlines after coming third in the West Midlands Mayoral race, gaining 70,000 votes after four weeks of campaigning. 

But following his rise in popularity, Yakoob faced criticism for comments he made about women and the LGBTQ community. Yakoob later apologised for the remarks and said he was “mortified” by what he had said. 

Earlier this month, Yakoob told Middle East Eye that he “wanted to break the Labour government” if elected to represent Birmingham Ladywood.

He denied to MEE claims that he was abusing the Gaza issue to get elected and said his manifesto was “reflective” of what his constituents in Ladywood told him during the campaign. 

Elsewhere in Birmingham, Labour’s Khalid Mahmood was expected to lose his seat to Independent candidate Ayoub Khan who also campaigned on a pro-Palestine ticket. 

While Labour’s Jess Phillips won in Birmingham Yardsley with a reduced majority of 700 votes after beating the Workers Party’s candidate Jody Mcintyre who came second. 

Labour’s Shabana Mahmood fends off challenge from pro-Palestine candidate Akhmed Yakoob

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