• Sunday, October 01, 2023


Asian votes are increasingly “up for grabs”

British prime minister Theresa May called for an early election on June 8.

By: ReenaKumar

By Reena Kumar

Asian voters are now more likely to think of themselves as swing voters, with their votes increasingly ‘up for grabs’ ahead of the June general election, according to the director of leading think-tank British Future.

Sunder Katwala’s comments came after prime minister Theresa May called for an early general election today, which is due to be held on June 8. May said she needed to strengthen her hand in divorce talks with the European Union by shoring up support for her Brexit plan.

Although the Tories are around 20 points ahead of Labour, political parties will now hit the campaign trail to secure votes from the British public with just seven weeks until voters hit the polls.

Katwala, director of independent, non-partisan think-tank British Future, told Eastern Eye that party loyalties of British voters had tended to fade in recent decades.

There is increasing evidence that British Asian voters are now becoming more likely to think of themselves as swing voters, with their votes increasingly ‘up for grabs’ during election campaigns.

It is a good sign of political, social and economic integration in our society if all of the parties have to compete for votes, so that they neither take Asian voters for granted or believe that they will be out of reach.

Sunder Katwala

“Increasingly, British Asian voters are voting differently based on social class, income and education, between the north and the south – and in this campaign.

What Asian voters think of the party leaders and their competing plans on Brexit and the economy will be as important in how they choose to vote in 2017 as their ethnicity.”

Many were surprised by May’s move as she has repeatedly said she did not want to be distracted by time-consuming campaigning.

Reacting to the shock news, Seema Malhotra, Labour MP for Feltham and Heston, told Eastern Eye: “This is a prime minister once again focussed on her own interests not on the interests of the country. At a time when we have growing inequality in education, a budget that gives to the most wealthy, an NHS in desperate need of funding and youth services being cut, the prime minister should be focussed on healing divisions not widening them.”

Lord Dholakia, Liberal Democrat life peer, said he was delighted that May had called an early election.

It is clear from the outcome of the referendum on European Union that UK politics is fractured and public opinion is divided about our future in the wider world. This election gives a chance to change the direction of our country.”

He added that one thousand new members had joined the party in the few hours after May called the election.

The country has been crying out for a stable, meaningful opposition which Labour has failed to provide. We will now have large numbers of young people able to vote. Hard Brexit has let them down. This is their chance to vote for their future in an open, tolerant and united world which the Liberal Democrats stand for, Dholakia added.”

Conservative MP, Shailesh Vara, agreed that the decision by the prime minister was the right one.

At the referendum the people of Britain spoke clearly that they wanted Brexit – what we have seen in the last few months in parliament is the opposition parties more interested in obstructive politics than trying to secure the best deal for the country.

If the prime minister is successful in getting a bigger majority then she will be in a better position to secure the best deal for the country.”

May will hope the election will boost her slim majority in parliament and give her a new mandate to put her stamp on domestic reforms in education and health and strengthen her hand in talks with the EU, which will start in earnest in June.

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