Country profiles for the Middle East and North Africa

UK General Election: #GE2015

In the lead up to the UK General Elections on May 7, MEMO takes a look at what British parties are saying about the Middle East.

Click on the party names below for more on their policies, or scroll to the bottom for the latest news and tweets.

*This page has been updated with the results of the 2015 General Election.



Click on the icons to view the party's stances.

A centre-right political party, currently the largest in the House of Commons with 302 MPs. In 2010, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats formed the first coalition government in Britain since 1945. David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party, became the 52nd prime minister following 13 years of Labour rule.

Lead by
David Cameron

307 seats

won in the 2010 General Election, with a 36.1% national share of votes.

331 seats

won in the 2015 General Election, with a 36.9% national share of votes.

Counter-terrorism strategy and British Muslims:

"It is not simply enough to target and go after violent extremists after they've become violent. We have to drain the swamp in which they inhabit."

Muslim communities have a "special burden" to help track down Islamist extremists.

If the Conservatives win the next election Cameron has pledged to introduce, within one year, legislation to allow Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to break into the communications of suspected terrorists known as "the snoopers charter".

"The powers that I believe we need, whether on communications data, or on the content of communications – I am very comfortable those are absolutely right for a modern, liberal democracy."

New anti-terror laws will mean UK nationals who fight for ISIS in Iraq and Syria will be barred from the country for two years.


Supported Tony Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq.

In 2011 he described military action in Libya as "good and just and right" and in Britain's national interest.

In 2013, Cameron led international calls for a military response to chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

In 2014 he supported Britain joining air strikes on Iraq and Syria.


Migrants will be barred from claiming benefits such as tax credits and housing benefit for four years.

Syrian refugees:

The government has made available more than £600 million in humanitarian aid to Syria's refugees.

Initially reluctant to sign up to a UNHCR resettlement initiative to take in Syrian refugees.

After joining the programme the government has so far resettled 90 Syrian refugees.

Palestine and Israel:

He has described Gaza as an "open-air prison".

Cameron abstained on the symbolic vote in October 2014 to recognise Palestine as a state.

Has professed his commitment to Israel's security and its right to defend its citizens.

On the boycott of Israeli goods: "I have a clear message – Britain opposes boycotts; whether it is trade unions campaigning for the exclusion of Israelis or universities trying to stifle academic exchange, Israel's place as a homeland for the Jewish people will never rest on hollow resolutions passed by amateur politicians… Delegitimising the State of Israel is wrong, it is abhorrent and together we will defeat it."

Saudi Arabia:

Defended the decision of British authorities to fly the union flag at half-mast after the death of King Abdullah: "Now you can be prime minister and just say exactly what you think about every regime in the world and make great headlines and give great speeches but I think my first job is to try and keep this country safe from terrorism.

"If that means you have to build strong relationships sometimes with regimes that you don't always agree with, that I think is part of the job and that's the way I do it and that's the best way I can explain it."

In 2013 the government approved the export of £1.6 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia


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Labour form the Official Opposition in parliament. A centre-left party, they have 256 MPs. Labour were last in government from 1997-2010 under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Lead by
Ed Miliband

258 seats

won in the 2010 General Election, with a 29.0% national share of votes.

232 seats

won in the 2015 General Election, with a 30.4% national share of votes.

Counter-terrorism strategy and British Muslims:

Shortly after the Copenhagen attacks Miliband wrote on his Facebook page: "We need to work to build stronger communities that give no hiding place to violent ideologies that threaten us all."

"So we need to overhaul the government's counter-terrorism Prevent programme so that parents, families, neighbours, mosques and friends are all in the first line of defence against violent extremism. And it means tracking and then de-radicalising fighters returning from Syria and Iraq."

He has asked the government to revisit their decision to scrap control orders which allow the restriction of a person's liberty so that the public can be protected from terrorists.


Condemned the Iraq war.

In March 2011 he wrote on Facebook: "I support British intervention in Libya for three reasons: it is a just cause, with a feasible plan, and has international support."

In 2013, he blocked military intervention in Syria and strikes against Bashar Al-Assad.

In September 2014, Miliband supported a motion in the House of Commons authorising RAF airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.


Migrants will not be able to claim benefits for at least two years.

Syrian refugees:

Pressed David Cameron on the issue of accepting 500 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees.

Palestine and Israel:

At the Palestine vote in October 2014 on the symbolic recognition of the Palestinian state he ordered Labour MPS to observe a one-line whip so that those who turned up had to back the motion.

Declared Israel must lift the boycott on Gaza as soon as possible.

Supports the two-state solution.

Is against "blanket boycotts" of goods from Israel

"Israel has a right to exist, and a right to security; but alongside that right is a duty to comply with international law."

During the last war on Gaza, Cameron was "wrong not to have opposed Israel's incursion into Gaza."

Liberal Democrat

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The Liberal Democrats are a social-liberal political party and the third largest in the UK with 56 MPs. After the 2010 General Election the Liberal Democrats joined a coalition government with the Conservative government and Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, became Deputy Prime Minister.

Lead by
Nick Clegg

57 seats

won in the 2010 General Election, with a 23.0% national share of votes.

8 seats

won in the 2015 General Election, with a 7.9% national share of votes.

Counter-terrorism strategy and British Muslims:

Clegg has opposed the "snooper's charter".

Backed calls to strip UK jihadists of their passports to prevent terror attacks.


The Liberal Democrats famously opposed the Iraq war.

Nick Clegg supported military intervention in Libya, stating it was about "upholding international law to give people the right to live freely and safe from brutality at the hands of Colonel Gaddaffi."

In 2013, Clegg supported intervention in Syria claiming that it was not Iraq.

In 2014, he supported airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.


Universal Credit will only payable to migrants for six months, after they have worked for six months.

Syrian refugees:

Nick Clegg helped persuade Conservatives that the UK should join a UN scheme to take a limited number of refugees from Syria, but stressed this would not be a large number.

Palestine and Israel:

In August 2014, Clegg pushed for direct, face-to-face talks between Israel and Hamas.

In the same year he called for arms exports to Israel to be suspended. "It's obvious to me that however much Israel has every right to defend itself from those rocket attacks from Hamas, nonetheless the Israeli military operation overstepped the mark in Gaza."

On the boycott of Israeli products: "We need to be much more active, more vocal, in our condemnation of anti-Semitism. One issue where that is especially true is academic boycotts of Israeli academics. Totally unacceptable. Whether boycotters realise it or not these modern-day exclusions, based on nationality and tied to religion, carry enormous historical baggage. My party has made it clear we find them morally objectionable, and also counterproductive: the only route to peace will only ever be through dialogue."

Saudi Arabia:

Described the flogging of Raif Badawi, who criticised Saudi Arabia's powerful clerics, as "profoundly illiberal, draconian".


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The UK Independence Party is a right-wing political party with two MPs. Nigel Farage has been leader of the party since 2010 and also led the party between 2006 and 2009.

Lead by
Nigel Farage

0 seats

won in the 2010 General Election, with a 3.1% national share of votes.

1 seat

won in the 2015 General Election, with a 12.6% national share of votes.

Counter-terrorism strategy and British Muslims:

Counter-terrorism strategy and British Muslims:

Muslim 'ghettos' run under Sharia Law are a consequence of mass immigration.

"We have been turning a blind eye to preachers of hate."

Women have been brought to the UK from Pakistan and elsewhere to join polygamous marriages.

"Tens of thousands of young women" have suffered from female genital mutilation in the UK.

Nigel Farage says the war on terror has become a war on liberty.

Wants to revoke the passport of anyone who has gone to fight for a terrorist organisation and deport those who have committed a terrorist act.

"I think perhaps one of the reasons the polls show an increasing level of concern is because people do see a fifth column living within our country, who hate us and want to kill us."

"There is no previous experience, in our history, of a migrant group that fundamentally wants to change who we are"


The West should declare an end to the era of military intervention abroad: "In almost every country in which the West has intervened or even implied support for regime change, the situation has been made worse and not better. This is true of Libya, Syria and of course Iraq."

"ISIS is an Islamic problem that must be dealt with by Muslims. Further direct Western involvement in the Middle East will only exacerbate the situation both at home and abroad."

On Libya: "Libya is one of an endless series of military interventions in which we have left things worse than before we intervened. And you only need to look as far as how Christians are targeted across the Middle East and North Africa region to see what kind of road we have paved for the terrorists of ISIS."


A new commission will reduce net immigration, and establish a visa system based on the Australian points based system.

Syrian refugees:

Late 2013, Nigel Farage challenged the government on not taking refugees from Syria calling on Britain to accept them but later backtracked and said the UK should accept only Christians, not Muslims.

Palestine and Israel:

Nigel Farage has "detected quite a sharp rise in anti-Semitism, not just in this country, but across the rest of Europe too. What's fuelling it is that there are many more Muslim voices, and some of those Muslim voices are deeply, deeply, critical of Israel. In fact, some of them even question the right of Israel to exist as a nation."

In August 2014, when asked what UKIP's stance is on the Gaza-Israel situation, Farage said: "I don't have a solution for it. I don't think anyone in the world does. Do I think Israel has a right to exist and defend itself? Yes. Do I think Israel is over-reacting? It looks like it is. Although I'm reminded that when Hitler sent the doodlebugs here we bombed their cities to the ground. It looks like they're over-reacting, but think about it, we did much the same kind of thing. Do I think there needs to be a two state solution? Ultimately there has to be, longer term."

On the vote to recognise Palestine as a state Farage said that the EU has no legal right to recognise states.

Saudi Arabia:

Has proposed to strip the rights of billionaires from Saudi Arabia who shop in the UK for VAT-free designer goods such as clothes and handbags. Instead of "bringing benefit" they are "coming here on the cheap", he says. They "should not be able to buy up the West End and claim their tax back."


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The Green Party is a left-wing political party with one MP. Natalie Bennett has been leader of the Green Party since 2012.

Lead by
Natalie Bennett

1 seat

won in the 2010 General Election, with a 1.0% national share of votes.

1 seat

won in the 2015 General Election, with a 3.8% national share of votes.

Counter-terrorism strategy and British Muslims:

Has said it should not be illegal to join terrorist organisations, but it should be a crime to aid, abet and fund criminal acts.

Of the Woolwich attack in May 2013: "It's absolutely tragic what happened in Woolwich and you've got to feel not just for the family of the serviceman but also for the people and bystanders that saw it happen and the emergency services that had to deal with it afterwards. But if we're going to stop that happening again in the future, one of the biggest things we have to do is stop regarding ourselves as the world's policeman."


Opposed the Iraq war and called on Ed Miliband to apologise for it.

On the 2013 decision not to intervene in Syria: "The parliamentary vote against a unilateral attack on Syria was a landmark. It draws a line under the dreadful, disastrous decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan. We know the right way forward – the legal way."


People who have lived illegally in the country for five years will be allowed to remain unless they pose a serious danger to public safety.

Syrian refugees:

Pressed David Cameron to accept Syrian refugees: "Sixteen nations, among them the US, France and Germany, have agreed to take their share of the most vulnerable refugees. Britain has not."

"As one of the world's richest nations, as a state with a long history of involvement in the Middle East, much of it disastrous, and often destructive involvement in the region, we must act on this issue."

Palestine and Israel:

Called for an immediate end to the Israeli attack on Gaza in July 2014: "Israel's actions extend very far beyond any reasonable response to the Hamas rocket attacks. Killing hundreds of innocent civilians will worsen Israel's security, not strengthen it. An immediate ceasefire is essential, and it must be responsibility of all states and political actors in the region to stop this cycle of outbreaks of conflict."

In September 2014 the Green Party called on the UK government to halt Israeli/UK military co-operation and declared their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

Saudi Arabia:

"Because the ISIS conflict and the Syrian conflict are being fuelled by regional powers putting money, putting in weapons, fighting proxy wars."

"And places like Turkey, Qatar, Saudi, use every diplomatic pressure and instrument we have."

"Goodness knows given how much we've given arms and subsidised arms for Saudi there should be some pressure there – use that diplomatic pressure and force and say to the region, you have to sort this out."

"We need to stop selling arms and providing military support to hideous human-rights-abusing regimes. We need to stop arms sales, arms subsidies, to Saudi Arabia."

Scottish National Party

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The SNP is the third largest political party in the UK, in terms of membership, after the Labour Party and the Conservative Party. Leader Nicola Sturgeon is the First Minister of Scotland and the first woman to hold either position. At the end of the 2010 - 2015 parliament, SNP had 6 MPs.

Lead by
Nicola Sturgeon

6 seats

won in the 2010 General Election, with a 1.7% national share of votes.

56 seats

won in the 2015 General Election, with a 4.7% national share of votes.

Counter-terrorism strategy and British Muslims:

In response the government's counter-terrorism bill Sturgeon said: "Muslims are not responsible for terrorism, and it's important that nothing we do gives the impression that they are. But governments have got a duty to keep their populations as safe as possible, so there is always a balance to be struck."


Earlier this year Sturgeon called for the immediate publication of the Chilcot report and said it was "time for the truth" on events leading up to the 2003 Iraq war: "The invasion of Iraq was, I believe, a foreign-policy blunder of epic proportions, the consequences of which we are living with today and will do so for many years to come. Those responsible for leading the UK to war will have to answer for their actions, but only the full publication of the report will allow them to do that."


Controlled points-based system to support the migration of skilled workers for the benefit of Scotland's economy.

Palestine and Israel:

Sturgeon advocates for the UK to formally recognise the Palestinian state alongside Israel and advocates that a two-state solution will help advance peace in the Middle East.

Plaid Cymru

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Plaid Cymru is a Welsh political party who aim to secure an independent Wales. Leader of the party, Leanne Wood, is the first female leader in the party's history. As of the 2000-2015 parliament, Plaid Cymru currently had three MPs.

Lead by
Leanne Wood

3 seats

won in the 2010 General Election, with a 0.6% national share of votes.

3 seats

won in the 2015 General Election, with a 0.6% national share of votes.

Counter-terrorism strategy and British Muslims:

In 2004 Leanne Wood launched an attack on new anti-terror laws, saying they came "from a Labour government you should all be ashamed of."

Muslims for Plaid have said the following about Plaid Cymru:

"As Welsh Muslims we had been impressed by the principled stance the party had taken against the invasions and Afghanistan and Iraq at a time when those who supported the wars were congratulating themselves on what they believed would be a quick and efficient campaign that would bring peace and stability to the region with minimal civilian casualties. How wrong they were. The horrendous loss of life and chaos into which the countries quickly descended showed the manifest error of the politicians in Westminster, trading the 20/20 foresight of Plaid Cymru for the 20/20 hindsight that commentators now view the decision to go to war."


Wood is anti-war and blames George Bush and Tony Blair for 'home-grown' terrorism.


Wood once slept on the streets of Cardiff to highlight the issue of immigration.

In the televised debates in April Wood told Nigel Farage: "You abuse immigrants and those with HIV, and then complain you get abuse."

Palestine and Israel:

At a march for Gaza in July 2014 Wood said on Facebook: "Let the world know loud and clear, Wales supports Palestine. Stop bombing Gaza. End the Occupation. Lift the siege. Let the refugees return. Free Palestine."

On her decision to join a protest in 2008 against a visit by Israeli Ambassador Ron Proser Wood said: "The Israeli ambassador has been able to travel here unhindered, which is in stark contrast to the way Palestinian people are corralled by Israeli troops, herded through security gates and kept in what has become virtually an open prison."

Share of national votes

  • Conservative: 36.9%
  • Labour: 30.4%
  • Liberal Democrat: 7.9%
  • UKIP: 12.6%
  • Green: 3.8%
  • Scottish National Party: 4.7%
  • Plaid Cymru: 0.6%
  • Others: 3.1%

Number of seats won

seats in total
  • Conservative: 331 seat(s)
  • Labour: 232 seat(s)
  • Liberal Democrat: 8 seat(s)
  • UKIP: 1 seat(s)
  • Green: 1 seat(s)
  • Scottish National Party: 56 seat(s)
  • Plaid Cymru: 3 seat(s)
  • Others: 18 seat(s)

#GE2015 Tweets


Does British foreign policy in the Middle East have an impact on which party you will vote for?








Is Palestine a vote changer in UK elections?

British Muslim voters in the UK

*2010 election data from BBC. 2015 predicted election results data from New Statesman's "Poll of Polls", May 1st 2015.