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UK General Election Voting Factors – Ethnicity

This page examines the 2010 UK General Election as an example.

In 2010, non-white ethnic groups voted Labour by 60% to the Conservatives 16% while the Liberal Democrats actually did better in this group than the Conservatives, gaining 20% (some Muslim voters switched to the Lib Dems in 2005 because of their opposition to the Iraq war). Only Hindus of Indian origin tended to have similar voting patterns to the rest of the population.

The Conservatives increased their number of ethnic minority MPs from 2 to 11 but this had a very limited impact on voting patterns. This support for Labour is despite the fact that the 2010 Ethic Minority British Election Survey found that this group of the population was less supportive of public spending than the rest of the population. However, they were much more concerned about unemployment and, of course, discrimination and Labour has been seen as the best party on this, possibly because of long standing memories of the two parties stances on these issues. The ethnic minority vote is increasing and is now larger than the winning party’s majority in 168 constituencies.

Of the white ethnic minority groups, the Irish vote was historically more Labour because of Labour support for Irish independence and because most Irish immigrants were working class.

The Jewish vote was also historically on the left but, with Margaret Thatcher representing a constituency with a considerable Jewish vote and adopting a pro-Israeli policy, some of it shifted to the Conservatives. It is difficult to say that there is now any trend but the Jewish vote is only significant in NW London and the Manchester conurbation.

The other significant white ethnic minority group is the Polish. Polish immigrants after the war tended to be anti-Communist and tended to vote Conservative but recent immigrants do not have a vote in Parliamentary elections, though they can in European and local elections, but there is little information on how and whether they vote.