Can Tories win over ethnic minority voters before 2015?

Aug 12, 2013

Black and ethnic minority voters could decide who wins the next election, according to new research

POLITICAL parties have been warned they will have to “raise their game” as new research shows that black and ethnic minority voters could be decisive in the next general election.

A study by Operation Black Vote shows that the number of constituencies in England and Wales where ethnic minority voters have the potential to decide who wins the seat will increase by 70 per cent, from 99 in 2010 to 168 in 2015. 

The organisation’s director, Simon Woolley, describes the findings as “great news” for ethnic minority communities and for democracy.

“Many individuals feel powerless, particularly in the face of rising racial tension and the apparent inability by political parties to acknowledge persistent race inequalities, much less have a plan to deal with it,” he says.

Writing in The Guardian, Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting, says he welcomes an “arms race” for ethnic minority voters but says parties will need to “raise their game” to woo them.

But Khan warns that “the bad news for lazy politicians” is that “simply visiting a temple at Diwali, sharing a samosa at Eid or attending a community event in Black History Month won't be enough”.
Nor will relying on community elders or gatekeepers to deliver the vote. “Minority ethnic issues need to be mainstream issues,” he says.

The Tories will be particularly worried, says Cameron’s party took just 16 per cent of the ethnic minority vote at the last general election, compared to Labour’s 68 per cent. In a study on the subject, Lord Ashcroft subsequently noted that "not being white was the single best predictor that somebody would not vote Conservative".

The ethnic minority vote is “going to be important”, says [4]Nadhim Zahawi, Tory MP for Stratford-on-Avon, who David Cameron has tasked with improving the party's performance with ethnic voters.
“The party is in the midst of a debate and it is an issue which is now being taken seriously," he told The Observer.

But in the New Statesman, George Eaton wonders when Cameron will ever make the key speech on race that was promised by his strategists back in January.

The speech reportedly intended to distance the party from Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech – a politically explosive attack on anti-discrimination laws. But Eaton says, seven months on, we have heard nothing.

“Instead, the party has further damaged its reputation with ethnic minorities through a series of demagogic stunts (most notably the ‘go home’ vans) on immigration.”

The more astute Tory MPs such as Zahawi recognise the need for a “detoxifying moment”, says Eaton. “But does Cameron, who... has abandoned modernisation and retreated to the core territory of immigration, welfare and Europe, still have the imagination to respond?”

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Its good to see that our politicians are happy to put ethnic minority concerns above those of the rest of us.

A bit of a sweeping generalisation to state that not being white was the single best predictor that somebody would not vote Conservative, since the entrepreneurial spirit of many asians would surely suggest they may vote Tory.

I suspect not. If you look at the major sources of imigration from countries in Asia, Africa & East Europe it is a safe bet to make that many immigrant communities have largely traditional conservative leaning values but the issue of immigration remains toxic for them to vote Tory. Even those who are settled regardless of how many generations later they are still made to feel like perpetual foreigners. The argument for controlled migration & proper policing of borders etc is a no brainer, however the tone & obsession from the tories always has undercurrents of "them and us" with the settled migrants always made to feel that they dont belong.
Ultimately the bulk of immigration is due to EU open borders and there is nothing that they can do about it but they harp on playing to the increasingly UKIP leaning gallery about putting punitive measures for those outside the EU (read non-caucasian Asia and Africa). How do you then expect someone from an Indian, Pakistani or Nigerian, Ghanian background to vote for you when they feel they and their families are under attack, you refuse their parents, grandparents, siblings and relatives from visiting them for weddings, graduations, meet grandkids and all other family occassions. The proposed £3,000 bond is one such ploy to discriminate against some of these communities.

So because we're not white, our concerns shouldn't be put above yours? Personally everyone's concerns should be of concern, regardless of race, because we ALL live here. Also just because someone isn't white doesn't mean that they aren't British.

Its not about the colour of your skin, its about immigrant communities that refuse to assimilate, and that expect the host culture to bend over backwards to accommodate their demands and use communal voting as a means to achieve this. That's what this is about, that immigrant communities demands should take precedence over the interests of people who belong here which is plain wrong.