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Monday 12 August 2013

The Power of The British Black and Asian Vote: When will Black and Asian Organisations in the UK unite to tackle race and faith discrimination?

 Ground-breaking research undertaken by Operation Black Vote – The Power of the Black Vote in 2015- shows the BME electorate could decide over 160 Westminster seats in the 2015 General Election.

Power concedes nothing without demand. 
That means acting as a  voting bloc of  Black and Asian voters have been handed the greatest opportunity ever to effectively change the face of British politics.

Using the recent 2011 census, researchers looked at the electorate in all England and Wales seats and found 168 marginal seats where Black and Asian and other ethnic minority voters outnumber the majority of the sitting MP.

The 168 constituencies are in both urban and suburban areas. 

Political parties have as yet not faced any meaningful electoral challenge to bring about an end to the tragedy of both race and faith discrimination. 

Lee Jasper founding Trustee of Operation Black Vote and its longest serving Chair said,

" The issue of electoral power has never been in doubt. As this research proves yet again we have the ability to change the political landscape. That potential power has to be understood against the backdrop of  our continued failure as a people to effectively tackle the deadening chains of prejudice unfairness racism and injustice. 

Racism and discrimination are destroying peoples live, denying opportunity, relegating Black and Asian communities to third class citizens in a supposedly first class democracy."

Black and Asian organisations must unite . 
Black and Asian communities are victims to growing levels of racism, in areas such as the labour market and the institutional racism of wider society . Our children now face the prospect of facing the toxic evil of increased rates of discrimination leading inevitably to disproportionate rates of  unemployment, homelessness, the continued criminalisation of our young people, police racism. These issues all combine to create Black and Asian communities that have become islands of poverty and desolation surrounded by seas of relative opportunity.

Unless  serious political organisations such as  Black Activist Against the Cuts and other overtly Black and Asian political organisations such as the Muslim Council of Great Britain and the Black Churches can form and consensus and agree a programme and a political agenda for change then our potential electoral power will remain largely latent and unfulfilled.

To effect positive change in the run up to the UK 2015 elections, a Manifesto for  Equality must be produced not simply as an academic or intellectual policy exercise, but as part of key national campaign to deliver massive voter turnout levels, organise hustings that demand accountability from all political parties and their candidates. 

This lack of unity and co-ordination are the missing critical and the strategic component parts necessary to delivering equality for all British citizens regardless of their race or faith. The report highlights that we have never had a greater opportunity to enforce change and highlights the growing power of the Black and Asian vote across the country. 

We must unify to achieve equality in our life times.
If major Black and Asian organisations could agree a set of policy demands for change and deliver massive voter turnout and organise national hustings around a decapitation strategy to target high profile candidates from all parties would be enough to electrify the 2015 elections and advance our joint struggle for justice. It one thing to have the electoral potential power,  the trick is to effectively deploy that power and use in a strategic and intelligent way.  Unity and organisation is the key. "

The growth of potential Black and Asian electoral  power can be seen here;

  • Cardiff Central: Lib dems have  a majority of  4,570 and a BME electorate of 12,445
  • Ilford North: Conservatives have a majority of 5,404 and a BME electorate of 35,051
  • Bristol East: Labour have a majority of 3,772 and a BME electorate of 11,420
  • Southampton Itchen: Labour have a majority of 192 votes and a BME electorate of 6,915
  • North Warwickshire: Conservative majority of 36 votes and a BME electorate of 3,381
  • Norwich South: Lib Dems have a majority of 310 votes and a BME electorate of 7,066

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 who loses 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.”

Professor Anthony Heath CBE author of the ‘Political intergration of Ethnic Minorities said,

‘This is good stuff. My own research has found that Political parties barely do anything to attract the BME vote.  Our findings  suggest if they did it would pay political dividend.’

In order to reap that dividend we need unity.

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