Voters with origins in the Indian sub-continent will play a more decisive role in the 2010 general election than in any earlier poll in Britain, according to a new research.
As many as 25 parliamentary constituencies have more than 40 per cent of their voting population from ethnic minorities, and voters from the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities are more likely to turn out to vote than their white neighbours.
General elections are expected to be held in May this year.
According to the research by Prof. Muhammad Anwar of the University of Warwick, even though the ethnic minority vote will be more important than ever, the minorities are still ‘massively undervalued and under-represented’
Prof. Anwar notes that ethnic minorities voter registration is approaching levels of white voters and turnout is now higher than the national average.
Higher-than-average turnout at polls
In the last general election in 2005, the national average turnout was 61.4 per cent, but for Bangladeshi voters it was 76 per cent, Pakistanis 70 per cent and Indians 67 per cent.
Anwar says, “Our research shows that the higher levels of turn-out among Asians and particularly Muslim groups are likely to continue in future.”
“Since, in recent years, Muslims in Britain and elsewhere have become a focus of attention for politicians and the media, Muslims themselves have become more conscious of their rights and responsibilities as British citizens, including participation in the electoral process,” he says.
He also notes although nationally ethnic minorities amount to 10 per cent of the population, there are actually 25 parliamentary constituencies where over 40 per cent of the population were categorised as being from an ethnic minority in the 2001 census.
These include East Harrow 66.3 per cent, Birmingham Ladywood 64.9 per cent, Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath 64.8 per cent, and Brent South 64.6 per cent.
Low Parliamentary representation
While ethnic minorities constitute 10 per cent of the UK population, the total number of ethnic minority origin MPs in the House of Commons is only 15 when it should be 60.
The ethnic minority representation in the House of Lords is over 30 although to reflect the ethnic minority population it should be over 70.
Prof. Anwar says: “The effective representation of ethnic minorities in politics is crucial to the achievement of equality of opportunity across our society.
There has been some progress but Britain has a long way to go in providing equality for ethnic minorities in the decision making process.”