Black and Ethnic Minority voting results: The good and bad news for the Lib Dems
27 February 2012 3 Comments
Recently the results of the biggest comprehensive study into the voting habits of ethnic minorities ever undertaken in Britain were released. While statistics are difficult to make definite conclusions, it does make for some interesting reading for the Lib Dems for a number of reasons.
The 2010 Ethnic Minority British Election Survey (EMBES) was directed by Professor Anthony Heath, Professor of Sociology at the University of Oxford. The headline results, which you may have read, were:
- 16% of ethnic minorities voted for the Conservative party at the last election compared to 37% of the wider population.
- 68% of ethnic minorities voted Labour compared to 31% of the wider population.
- Those of a Black Caribbean heritage feel the British political system has not treated them fairly the most.
But dig a little deeper and we find some interesting results for the Lib Dems. Overall we performed poorly in attracting BME voters as we gained only 14% of their vote compared to 23% for the wider population and generally we are performing worse than the Tories in attracting BME voters. However, we out performed on the votes from people with Pakistani origin gaining 25% of their vote:
The fact that we are performing worse than the Tories may be explained by looking at the attitudes of BME voters.
On the tax cuts versus spending question we find that every ethnic minority group is less supportive of greater government spending than the white British group. In this respect they appear to be less ‘left-wing’ than the majority, which contrasts strangely with their greater support for Labour but may suggest that those who do not have an affiliation to Labour are more inclined to vote Tory than Lib Dem given our position going in to the General Election. In further items covering different aspects of the left/right dimension there was either no significant difference between the majority and the minority, or the majority was more left-wing than the minority.
If we look at answers to the question of what is the most important issue facing Britain today we see that there are some differences between the majority and minority:
They are far more concerned about unemployment than the majority suggesting where to focus our campaigning efforts to attract this vote. Other things which are important to attract this vote would be improving opportunities for minorities and tackling oppression and discrimination:
It is also of interest to look at those who voted for the Lib Dems in terms of religion. We did best with those with no religion, what they classified as ‘Other’ and Muslims:
So there are some positive aspects to this study for the Lib Dems in terms of the fact that we have had a good result from the Muslim / Pakistani voters but there is a lot of work to do to start attracting a wider share of the vote from BME voters. Labour has a large proportion of their vote despite the fact that ideologically they probably do not fit well with them. There are opportunities here to start taking the votes from Labour if we can get our message to BME voters that we think unemployment is a big issue and we are doing something about it, that we think that cutting spending is necessary and right and that we are addressing the barriers to opportunities for minorities.