Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Labour Task Force to Stop Asian Voters Defecting to Tories

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Labour Task Force to Stop Asian Voters Defecting to Tories

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

LABOUR has launched a task force after finding that Asian and black supporters are drifting to David Cameron's Conservatives.

In a sign that the party is rattled by evidence from election canvassing and polls, it is reviewing its approach to minority ethnic communities.

Former Europe Minister Keith Vaz, a seasoned inner-city campaigner as well as being the longest serving Asian MP, has been commissioned by chairman Hazel Blears to head the operation.

The task force will provide a blueprint to stem the losses, including recommending new methods for campaigning, recruitment and ways to get black and Asian members more involved in policy making.

Labour's experts believe up to 25 MPs could be at risk if there is a significant drop in black and minority ethnic (BME) support.

These have slender majorities and large local BME populations, making them vulnerable to a shift. They include Clare Short, whose 6,801 majority in Birmingham Ladywood would be undermined if one in 10 of the 43,000 local BME voters defect.

Other vulnerable targets could be Margaret Beckett, who has a 5,567 majority in Derby South and 17,600 BME voters.

A clutch of London Labour MPs at risk include Tony McNulty, who has a 4,730 majority in Harrow East and 36,000 BME voters, and Rudi Vis, who has a 741 majority in Finchley and Golders Green, easily wiped out if one in 100 of his 15,000 BME voters swaps sides.

Labour's fears have intensified after the results of the London council elections last month. The capital's MPs say they show a trend towards more severe losses in areas with middle class ethnic minority communities.

According to their analysis, the threat comes from two distinct groups: the most obvious includes Muslims and others angry or repelled by the Iraq war and was a clear factor in last year's general election. …

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