Indian-origin voters in the UK played a decisive role in Prime Minister David Cameron-led Conservatives winning the elections, with one million ethnic minority votes going in his favour, a post-poll survey said. The Conservatives won a majority as a result of one million ethnic minority votes, new research by British Future think tank has found.
Nearly 6,15,000 Indian-origin voters were expected to vote in the May 7 elections this year with many expected to switch loyalties from Opposition Labour to the Conservative party. While the survey does not break down the ethnic minority vote in the UK by countries of origin, its overall results confirm a significant swing in favour of the ruling Tories.
It found much higher support for the Conservatives among Asian voters this year with 50 per cent in favour of Cameron’s party and only 38 per cent supporting Ed Miliband-led Labour. Along religious lines, nearly 49 per cent Hindus and Sikhs favoured Tories as compared to 41 per cent for Labour.
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said, “this research shows that ethnic minority votes are more ‘up for grabs’ than ever before. Minority voters still prefer Labour to the Conservatives”. “If it presents itself only as a party of the underdog, Labour may send a message to aspirational ethnic minority voters that, if you get on in British society, you ‘trade up’ to the Tories,” Katwala said.
Based on an estimated three million ethnic minority voters taking part in the election, the results equate to the Conservatives securing a million votes for the first time in the party’s history while Labour achieved 1.6 million. The Liberal Democrats and Greens both gained about 1,50,000 votes from this group, with anti-immigrant UKIP on 60,000 and the SNP on 40,000.
It is not clear if those minorities that swung to the Conservatives were attracted by its entrepreneurial message or alienated by the tougher line from Labour on immigration. “The Conservatives have done well in extending their appeal to minority voters, even though these may have been votes for David Cameron rather than his party,” Katwala added.
Omar Khan, director of race equality thinktank Runnmymede Trust added, “Labour’s vote share looks to have held up best in the top 75 most diverse seats in the UK, where half of BME (black and minority ethnic) people live. “But with more and more BME people moving outside the major cities the Conservatives appear well placed to make further gains in 2020 and beyond if they can respond to ethnic inequalities and realise BME aspirations while in government.”
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