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Reaching out to black and ethnic minority communities

James Kanagasooriam
July 18, 2018
Reaching out to black and ethnic minority communities
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On Monday 16 July 2018, Onward published new research and polling revealing the scale of the challenge the Conservative Party faces in reaching out to Black and Ethnic Minority voters.

The research, overseen by James Kanagasooriam, a member of Onward’s advisory board, reveals the Party’s challenge amongst BAME voters is as great as amongst 18-24 year olds and without action will cost the party at least 28 seats by 2031 due to demographic change alone. 

Read the research  |  Read our polling 

The research draws on exclusive polling by Populus that shows that the challenge for the party amongst BAME voters is even greater than among younger voters.

Just 24% of BAME voters say that the Conservative Party is on their side, compared to 53% for the Labour Party, a 29 point gap. Amongst all 18-24 year olds, Labour leads the Conservatives by 25 points, by 54% to 29%.

Furthermore, when asked to rate how much they thought the Conservative Party was for people like them, 52% of BAME voters rated the party in the lowest decile – equivalent to 1 out of 10. Just 2% of BAME rated the Conservative in the top decile on this measure.

Alongside the polling, cutting-edge research reveals the electoral impact if the BAME share of the population grows as expected in the coming years.

According to modelling of how changing ethnic composition and BAME voting patterns will affect individual constituencies, the Conservative Party would lose 28 seats by 2031 if the Britain’s population changes as currently predicted.

The Conservative Party would need to deliver a further 2% swing from Labour amongst white voters by 2031 just to stand still as the population changes, or increase its share of the vote among ethnic minorities by 12%.

However, the research also makes clear there is significant scope for the party to dramatically improve its performance among ethnic minorities, as the proportion of BAME voters who consider voting Conservative is much larger than the number who actually go on to vote for the party.

70% of white voters who consider voting Conservative go on to vote Conservative. But among BAME voters only half as many of the people who consider voting Conservative actually do so (36%). This large body of wavering voters suggests that with the right messages, policies and community engagement, Conservatives can do dramatically better than they do now.

This is further substantiated by past experience. Between 2010 and 2015, the Conservative Party grew its share of the BAME vote from 16% to 23%. At the last election this fell back but remained above the 2010 watermark, at 19% of all BAME voters, according to Ipsos MORI.

The research was presented at a major Onward event on Monday 16 July, on how the Conservative Party can reach out to ethnic and religious minority voters. Speakers at the event included: two declared candidates for the Conservative nomination for the London Mayoralty, Kulveer Ranger and Shaun Bailey, Tom Tugendhat MP and Meera Sonecha, policy adviser to Andy Street. 

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