Ethnic minorities not all the same, MPs told

Report urges politicians to embrace varied views. Picture: PA
Report urges politicians to embrace varied views. Picture: PA
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Politicians should stop treating ethnic minorities as one homogeneous group and start appealing to the varied political views and concerns of non-white Britons, a new report argues.

Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities will make up almost a third of the UK population by 2050, according to the think-tank Policy Exchange.

A Portrait Of Modern Britain, published today, argues immigration from the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent and Africa since the Second World War has resulted in diverse groups with widely differing opinions, experiences and traditions.

The report says politicians have failed to address these groups individually and says there are “clear and meaningful differences between each of these communities, which need to be fully understood” by policymakers.

Rishi Sunak, report co-author and head of Policy Exchange’s BME Research Unit, said: “These communities will continue to become an ever more significant part of Britain, especially in future elections.

“However, as our research demonstrates ethnic minorities are not one homogeneous political group.

“From education to employment, housing to trust in the police, politicians from all parties must understand the different issues affecting individual communities.”

The handbook draws on survey, census, academic and polling data to build up a detailed picture of the five largest minority groups in the UK – Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black 
African and Black Caribbean.

The report highlights the importance of BME voters in years to come.

It says currently eight million people, or 14 per cent of the UK population, are from ethnic minorities. But the BME population now accounts for 80 per cent of growth and has doubled in the past decade when the white population has remained constant.

The report claims that, with the exception of those with an African heritage, a majority of non-white Britons describe themselves as “British-only”.

The right-leaning think-tank says that currently voters in BME communities overwhelmingly identify with and vote for the Labour Party “regardless of class or association with Conservative policies”, with 68 per cent voting for Gordon Brown’s party at the 2010 General Election, compared with 16 per cent for the Conservatives and 14 per cent for the Liberal Democrats.

Voting intention, a higher rate of religious worship and living in large family groups are shared traits that members of the five largest historic immigrant groups have in common, the report shows.

However, there is huge variety between them in how people live, including whether they marry – and whom – and how many children they have, how well educated they are and what jobs they do.

Last month Adam Afriyie, the first black Tory MP and once touted as a future party leader, said the Conservatives will not be able to completely detoxify its brand in the eyes of ethnic minority voters in time for next year’s general election.