General Election 2024: Meet Ertan Karpazli, Enfield North’s independent parliamentary candidate

With less than a month to go until the UK General Election, something unusual is underway in Enfield North, where two candidates with Turkish connections are contesting the parliamentary seat.

The London constituency’s main contender is Türkiye-born Feryal Demirci Clark who is currently running for her second term. Ms Clark is standing again for the main opposition Labour Party, which looks set for an overall national victory against the governing Conservatives at the polls on 4 July.

While the incumbent is widely known, one of her challengers is less so. Ertan Karpazli, a journalist with Turkish Cypriot roots, is standing as an independent candidate.

Mr Karpazli’s has worked with a variety of publications and media outlets, including TRT World and more recently online portal MyLondon.

But it was Israel’s ongoing actions in Gaza – which the International Court of Justice has stated are a “plausible genocide” – that prompted him to run for parliament.

Importantly, Mr Karpazli is the endorsed candidate of the campaign group The Muslim Vote which has set out to give Muslim voters, many of whom feel taken for granted by politicians, a bigger voice in British politics. Its core policies include an end to the war in Gaza and Britain’s recognition of Palestine.

The first step of the group’s project is supporting third-party candidates against the Conservative and Labour parties, whom they view as complicit in the current Gaza crisis.

Enfield North is one of the organisation’s key target constituencies, owing to its 15,313-strong Muslim electorate, which makes up 16% of all local voters, and could be a crucial factor in influencing any overall outcomes in the seat.

“for me victory comes in participation. Even if we finish second or third, I’d hope that whoever comes first would have the sense to start listening to us moving forward”

T-VINE spoke to Ertan to find out more about his campaign, and his views and pledges on matters, local, national and international.

Can you tell local readers about your connection to Enfield?

I was born in Enfield in 1987. Although I mostly grew up in Walthamstow, I never lost my connection with Enfield due to having many friends and relatives there. I currently live in Enfield in the midst of a strong Turkish Cypriot community.

While working as a reporter for MyLondon, I reviewed many small businesses and family-run restaurants in the area, and often reported on the many issues affecting everyday Enfield residents, making me somewhat of a well-known face there.

As someone with more experience reporting the news than being it, what has motivated you to stand for Parliament?

As a journalist I’m often required to remain neutral, and simply report what others are saying, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own opinions. Like many others, I was triggered by the tragic images emerging from Gaza after Israel escalated its offensive on the enclave last October. A month later, I was utterly disappointed to see both the Tories and the Labour Party failing to condemn Israel’s actions in Parliament.

I felt the need to take matters into my own hands as amid all those feelings of disillusionment, I couldn’t trust anyone besides myself to stand up for what’s right. A while later I was introduced to the Enfield Community Action Group, who were at the time looking for independent candidates in Enfield to challenge the two-party monopoly. Realising we were both on the same page regarding Gaza and a number of other issues of national concern, such as the state of the NHS, I decided to work with them.

On 29 May, in a public meeting held in Edmonton, I was voted in by a show of hands to receive their endorsement, which of course provided me with a major boost to step forward.

What have you found to be the main issues facing voters in Enfield North?

In a nutshell, nearly all the people of Enfield North who I’ve spoken with don’t feel that the incumbent MP represents them. They don’t feel like they have a voice in Parliament on a number of matters, with Gaza of course being at the forefront.

“I decided to run as an independent because I have lost faith in party politics, and I think a lot of people feel the same”

Unfortunately, Labour MP Feryal Clark, like the vast majority of her party, chose to abstain when asked to vote for a ceasefire. As she is a member to the Labour Friends of Israel parliamentary group, many who are outraged by what is going on in Gaza do not feel comfortable with her speaking on their behalf in the House of Commons.

As well as that, there are several local issues that need rectifying. Enfield is home to some of the poorest, most deprived people in the UK and they’re seriously being let down by the status quo.

Whether it’s poverty, unemployment, education, opportunities for young people, crime, pensions or health care, the people of Enfield deserve better.

Running without the backing of a party machine is an uphill struggle, why did you decide to run as an independent? How have residents reacted to you and your independent campaign have they shared their views about Labour, the Conservatives or other parties?

I decided to run as an independent because I have lost faith in party politics, and I think a lot of people feel the same.

I want people to vote based on principle, not based on party, hence my motto ‘Vote for Principle, not Party’. I want to give people an alternative that the mainstream political parties don’t seem to offer them at the moment. A lot of people have expressed dissatisfaction over both Labour and the Conservatives. Some have asked me why I haven’t joined the Greens or the Lib Dems, for example, but I prefer to have more control over my campaign and what I stand for.

I actually feel that I have more of a connection with the people of Enfield as an independent than some of the other candidates who are running with party support. Yes, they have the advantage of more funding and volunteers, but how they run their campaign really doesn’t concern me. I’m totally focused on what I have to do with the opportunities that have been presented to me, and just give it a real go.

“In many constituencies including my own, the Muslim vote alone is enough to seriously impact the outcome”

Of course it would be nice to win, but for me victory comes in participation, not merely through winning the election. Even if we finish second or third, if we garner enough support to make our presence known, I’d hope that whoever comes first would have the sense to start listening to us moving forward.

You are one of several independent candidates to be endorsed by the Muslim Vote campaign group. What is your message to Muslim voters who may not know you yet? 

My message to Muslim voters is simple. Get registered onto the electoral roll before the cut off date of 18 June.

I have little to no concern about how Muslims who do vote will cast their ballots on polling day. They are a God-fearing people who do not need reminding of their obligation to humanity to do the right thing.

My only worry is that Muslims in this country have been so disenfranchised by the system that they’ve lost hope. Many talk about the changes that are needed, but don’t know how to bring those changes into fruition. But now, thanks to The Muslim Vote, they have some guidance as to how we can start making those changes.

“the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriots cannot continue. It is a human rights matter that has been overlooked for way too long, and if I enter Parliament, I will fight until this situation is changed”

It’ll take time and a lot of patience, but we need to keep our intentions and motivations pure. If we do this, and just put in a little bit of effort on polling day, we could topple the status quo in our constituencies. In many constituencies including my own, the Muslim vote alone is enough to seriously impact the outcome.

As a person of Turkish Cypriot heritage, how do you plan to advocate for the Turkish Cypriot-origin community at home and in Cyprus?

I am a Turkish Cypriot and I’m proud of that. I’m likewise proud to have many Turkish Cypriots in the Enfield North constituency whose suppressed voiced I intend to amplify in Parliament once I am elected MP.

Many of those who I have spoken to have expressed their wish for direct flights to North Cyprus, the end of embargoes and a two-state solution. At the risk of angering many people who have a different opinion on the Cyprus Problem, I have already committed myself to taking a new approach to the matter when I’m elected, because the traditional approach has achieved nothing in breaking the unfavourable status quo in 50 years.

It’s not up to me to dictate to the people of Cyprus what they should do with their island, but right now there is no incentive for the Greek Cypriot side to take reunification talks seriously. If we backed a two-state solution, we would at least level out the playing field a little and create the right environment for talks to resume.

From that point onwards, it is up to the people of Cyprus whether they want to reunite or split the island officially on amicable and mutually beneficial terms. But for now, the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriots cannot continue. It is a human rights matter that has been overlooked for way too long, and if I enter Parliament as a new MP, I will personally fight until this situation is changed.