Conservatives are at risk of losing vote share due to increases in immigration, and the party’s inability to reach out to voters from ethnic minorities. A new study reported by the Guardian suggests that a ‘superdiversity’ is emerging in Britain’s inner cities and that Labour is almost exclusively benefiting from the rise in immigrant voters.
The fast growing minority vote has been caused by large scale immigration from the former commonwealth and more recently Eastern European who have come to the country as a result of EU rules. The research was conducted by Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, and academic Richard Webber.
They suggest that two out of three minority voters in London support Labour. Whereas white voters are much more likely to support the Conservatives or UKIP. In the European elections white voters’ support for UKIP matched the level of support for the Tories, twice the number backing Labour.
The authors say: “We may tentatively conclude that the principal factor differentiating London’s attitudes from the rest of the country is not its socially liberal attitudes but the size and preference of the visible minority vote within it,”
The trend towards ethnic voting is described as the “browning of Labour” as the party get 70 percent of the “visible minority” vote. By galvanising that support they could eat into the Conservative heartlands even more as these communities begin to depart the inner cities and move out to places like the home counties that are almost exclusively white at the moment.
The report also suggests that Labour’s reliance on ethnic minorities may be exacerbated by Scottish independence. At the moment Labour does well north of Hadrian’s Wall and losing those seats due to independence would leave the party with a major electoral headache that may only be solved by relying on more immigration and the votes of new arrivals.
In the European elections earlier this year Labour began to haemorrhage serious numbers of white working class voters to UKIP. If this continues the country may be left with a strong electoral division between Labour, which relies on immigrants and other parties that fight it out for the white vote.
Authors of the report are concerned that this will further damage community relations. The report says: “Even if a policy tilt towards UKIP may benefit Labour in the short term (i.e. in time for a 2015 general election), there will be a huge price for Mr Miliband and his successors to pay in every subsequent general election for several decades.”
Conservatives are also likely to be deeply concerned by this trend as it would be electorally advantageous for any future Labour government to bring even more immigrants to the country. As they would have a vested interest in the loosest possible immigration policy.
Between 1997 and 2010 Labour were accused of deliberately encouraging immigration to change the nature of the country, and benefit from the extra votes.