Why the Black and Ethnic Vote Is No Marginal Issue for the Political Parties; Winning over Ethnic Minority Voters Will Be a Key Target for Political Parties Fighting for West Midlands Seats in the Next General Election, Writes Chris Game

The Birmingham Post (England), August 15, 2013 | Go to article overview

Why the Black and Ethnic Vote Is No Marginal Issue for the Political Parties; Winning over Ethnic Minority Voters Will Be a Key Target for Political Parties Fighting for West Midlands Seats in the Next General Election, Writes Chris Game


Byline: Chris Game

In the 2010 General Election, the Conservatives' target seats operation, master-minded and funded by their billionaire life peer, Lord Ashcroft, was by most standards impressively effective.

The conventional gauge for evaluating these target campaigns is the national percentage vote swing from one major party to another since the previous election.

In 2010 there was a swing to the Conservatives since 2005 of 4.9 per cent from Labour and 1.4 per cent from the Liberal Democrats.

Had these swings been repeated uniformly across the country, the Conservatives would have won 275 seats, 6 short of Labour's 281.

The first move towards forming a government would have been Brown's, not Cameron's.

Back in 1997 the Conservatives had by this measure underperformed badly, losing 24 more seats to Labour than they should have under a uniform national swing.

This time, thanks largely to the target seats operation, they 'beat' it by 32 seats, 23 from Labour and 9 from the Lib Dems, bringing them up to 307 - still short of an overall majority, but easily the largest party.

But what about Edgbaston, you cry - the ultra-marginal Labour constituency that was retained almost comfortably by sitting MP, Gisela Stuart? There were several others the Conservatives similarly failed to gain, particularly in London, and one thing they noticeably had in common was a black and minority ethnic (BME) population two, three or even four times the national average.

Overall, calculated Lord Ashcroft, the average non-white population of the constituencies the Tories gained from Labour was around six per cent.

In Labour's 20 most vulnerable marginals that the Tories failed to win, and that would have given them an overall majority, the average non-white population was over 15 per cent.

Not being white, Lord Ashcroft concluded, was the single best predictor that somebody would not vote Conservative.

"Bluntly, the Conservative Party's problem with ethnic minority voters is costing it seats," he said, and, he might have added, single party majority government.

And if it was costly last time, it could be even more so in 2015, with the BME population having grown, the Conservatives defending a difficult record in government, and having missed out on the extra seats a new set of constituency boundaries would have brought.

The question is: how much more costly? Which is why some of the figures in this week's report, Power of the Black Vote in 2015, by the cross-party racial justice group, Operation Black Vote (OBV), attracted media headlines, but also a sizable dash of scepticism.

"Our ground-breaking research clearly shows that the BME vote could easily decide over 160 seats. In 168 marginal seats the BME electorate is larger than the majority in which the seat was won."

The OBV study is a good and useful one, some of its methodology is novel, and its updated data for all 573 English and Welsh constituencies will be invaluable for all political parties, commentators, and, certainly not least, BME organisations themselves.

However, the assertion that those 168 'marginal' seats 'could easily decide' the election seems both questionably calculated and seriously exaggerated, to the extent that it risks undermining the genuinely important issues that OBV seeks to highlight.

It reminded me of John Major's narrow and unexpected 21-seat win in the 1992 election, and defeated leader Neil Kinnock's repeated lament that, if only 2,478 voters in Labour's 11 most narrowly lost constituencies had voted Labour instead of Conservative, Major would never have had his majority. Statistically sound, but electorally senseless.

In the case of the OBV study, it's obviously useful to update constituency populations with the 2011 Census figures, which showed the BME population nationally to have increased from 8 per cent in 2001 to 14 per cent. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Why the Black and Ethnic Vote Is No Marginal Issue for the Political Parties; Winning over Ethnic Minority Voters Will Be a Key Target for Political Parties Fighting for West Midlands Seats in the Next General Election, Writes Chris Game
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.