Black vote can decide 2015 general election


Ground-breaking research undertaken by Operation Black Vote shows that the Black and minority ethnic (BME) electorate could decide over one quarter of the seats in the 2015 General Election. That means BME voters have the greatest opportunity ever to effectively engage in British politics.

Using the 2011 census, researchers looked at the BME electorate in all 573 of the seats in England and Wales and found 168 marginal seats where BME voters outnumber the majority held by the sitting MP. This equates to one quarter of seats nationally and nearly 40% of seats in London.

Entitled 'The Power of the Black Vote in 2015', the research reveals 168 constituencies in both urban and suburban areas, demonstrating that the BME electorate have never been more powerful. With more marginal seats and more BME voters right across the geographical map, power is shifting. Political parties must wake up and realise that without the BME vote they could lose - and therefore devise policies to tackle persistent race inequalities.

Some examples of the geographic spread of where power can be seen and the effect on the political parties:

  1. Ilford North: Conservatives have a majority of 5,404 and a BME electorate of 35,051
  2. Cardiff Central: Liberal Democrats have a majority of 4,570 and a BME electorate of 12,445
  3. Bristol East: Labour have a majority of 3,772 and a BME electorate of 11,420
  4. Norwich South: Liberal Democrats have a majority of 310 votes and a BME electorate of 7,066
  5. Southampton Itchen: Labour have a majority of 192 votes and a BME electorate of 6,915
  6. North Warwickshire: Conservative majority of 54 votes and a BME electorate of 3,381

OBV Director Simon Woolley said:

"This is great news for BME communities and democracy. Many individuals feel powerless, particularly in the face of rising racial tension and the apparent inability by political parties to acknowledge persistent race inequalities, much less have a plan to deal with it. The power to help decide who wins and who loses the next General Election will no doubt focus the minds of vulnerable politicians and their leaders."

Author of the report Lester Holloway said:

"This study should be a wake-up call to every political party that they cannot ignore or take for granted BME voters any longer. BME Britons have the political muscle to change not just their MP, but the Government. Increasingly BME votes are up for grabs in marginal seats and any political party to seriously court the vote may well get the extra boost they need to cross the line into power."

The Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, Simon Hughes MP, said the findings were "very significant". He added:

"Unless all parties and candidates engage with and seek to win BME support, they could be in political difficulty locally and see their general election prospects significantly set back."

Conservative Vice-Chair Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, who has been given the task of boosting the party's ethnic minority appeal said:

"The analysis speaks for itself in highlighting seats with larger numbers of voters with an ethnic minority background and their potential electoral impact."

Shadow Justice Minister Sadiq Khan, the MP who ran Ed Milliband's leadership campaign said:

"The DNA of politics needs to change in the light of this research. This research shows how important the ethnic minority electorate is going to be in future general elections. Any party that seriously wants to win needs to take the ethnic minorities with them."

Click here to view copy of the report: Power of the Black Vote

Notes to the editor:

  1. Operation Black Vote was launched in 1996 at the House of Commons. OBV is a non partisanorganisation that seeks tackle racial injustice through civic and political empowerment of BME communities.
  2. The term "Black" is a political term. It refers to African, Asian, Caribbean and other ethnic minorities.