Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May addresses Conservative parliamentary candidates for London and the south east at the Dhamecha Lohana Centre in Harrow, north west London. (Photo credit: Reuters/Stefan Rousseau/Pool)
Supporting a One Nation agenda of extending opportunity and tackling ethnic discrimination will be crucial for the Conservative party to gain the trust of Asian voters, according to British Future director Sunder Katwala.
Speaking to Eastern Eye about the intentions of Asian and other BAME voters in the upcoming general election, Dr Zubaida Haque, research consultant at race equality think tank Runnymede Trust, pointed out that the voting patterns of Britain’s BAME population have become increasingly split along ethnic, religious, class and regional lines while traditional party loyalties have been severed.
Two issues, however, will likely prove to be key at the ballot box among all BAME groups: unemployment and discrimination.
At nine per cent, the unemployment rate among ethnic minorities is nearly twice as high as in the white population (five per cent), while a smaller percentage occupy management roles despite increasing enrolment and performance in post-secondary education.
The rise of hate crimes following the EU referendum will make tackling discrimination a key priority for Asian voters and each party’s position on Brexit will tie into this issue.
“Many British Asians will want to hear a zero-tolerance approach to post-referendum hate crime and racism,” Katwala said, “wanting politicians to make it very clear to those who feel racism can come back into fashion, that Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016, and not to turn the clock back to 1972.”
He added that over the past 20 years, the number of Indian voters who identified with Labour has fallen from just under 80 per cent to 45 per cent, with a similar trend seen among black voters.