An influential poll has revealed that the ethnic minority vote, which Labour relies on, is collapsing with three quarters of Indian voters abandoning the party.
Dr Maria Sobolewska, an expert from Manchester University says that Ed Miliband’s party are mistaken by “sitting pretty” and thinking the votes will automatically come to them, the Telegraph reports.
The number of Indian voters saying the Labour party are the one they feel represents them the most has declined from 77 percent since 1997 to just 18 percent in 2014. Pakistani support has fallen from 77 percent to 57 percent, a drop of 26 percent.
The research by the British Election Study shows that support from the Caribbean has dropped 14 per cent to 67 percent; although this is still a significant chunk and more than the combined total for the other UK parties vying for Westminster seats.
And support from the African community has fallen from 79 percent to 63 percent, a decline of a fifth.
This slide in Labour’s crucial supporter base which has been on a downward trend since 2010 will not make happy Christmas reading for Ed Miliband who is also facing being wiped out in Scotland as the SNP continue to perform strongly after their passionate campaign in September’s referendum.
The large number of MPs from Scottish seats is a key reason why Miliband and the Labour party will not support English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) as they would have no sway on issues such as the NHS in England and the national curriculum.
The decline in support coincides with the increase in the number of ethnic minority voters in the UK.
By the next generation one in three people will be from an ethnic monitor according to additional research and by 2050 between 20 and 30 per cent will be non-white. The current percentage is 14 per cent.
Speaking at a conference this month, Dr Sobolewska said:
“What is happening is that the Labour party is sitting pretty, or at least they think they are sitting pretty, they think they have the minorities is the bag.
“The ethnic minorities are seen to be the core of Labour party vote, they have been for years, for decades but I will make these people here representing Labour a little bit uncomfortable about this assumption that minorities will vote for them as a matter of course.”
“Labour is not really sitting pretty on ethnic minorities any more and in fact wasn’t in 2010 either. We can already see that a lot of the ethnic minority groups, in fact all of the ethnic minority groups supported Labour a lot less even in 2010, but this did not yet make Labour worried.”
“Looking at the 2014 figures I am hoping that all of you from the Labour party are shifting uncomfortably in your seats. This is a disaster.”
“The percentage of people who identify with the Labour party is falling very fast.”
The decline in support for Labour by BME voters will be welcomed by the Tories who have often viewed aspirational migrants as ‘small c conservative’. In 2010 they only secured support from around 16 per cent of black and ethnic minorities but with Lynton Crosby at the helm for election strategy, they have their sights set on this increasing significantly.
And they will need this surge if they are to secure victory in 2015 even with the decline in Labour’s support in it’s heartland communities because many of its traditional supporters have defected to UKIP. Without a significant pick up of this vote they could be hamstrung by a left wing alliance of Labour, Lib Dem and SNP once the votes have been counted.
The party could learn a lot from London Mayor Boris Johnson whose campaign in 2012 saw “Boris outperform the Conservative party by 40 percent in the BME [black minority ethnic] communities” Mr Crosby told a conference fringe meeting back in October.
But Dr Sobolewska says this is not as easy as they would hope, telling the audience at her conference they have so far had little success in winning over the voters leaving Labour.
“The Conservatives have been trying to win some of this vote because they think that ethnic minorities are natural small ‘c’ Conservatives” she said.
“And they have been trying for a while, but they don’t think for the effort they are putting in they are getting enough back – in fact they think what is going to happen to them is this so-called death by demographics that has been advertised as something that is already happening to the republicans in the US.”