The Guardian today has news that that in 168 marginal seats, the ethnic minority vote is bigger than the majority of the sitting MP, which obviously means that the ethnic minority vote could be key in determining which party leader enters Downing Street after the next general election. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has campaigned in seats in areas such as West Yorkshire, Lancashire, the Midlands and London though what is not mentioned and is also of crucial importance is that turnout among minority voters also tends to be higher than the indigenous population which ensures this vote is very influential.
What is a surprise however, is how very little has changed in terms of targeting the ethnic minority vote with reliance among all parties still on so called community leaders and elders to ‘deliver’ the vote. Promises of hundreds of vote being guaranteed if certain individuals are on board is simply nonsense and their influence greatly exaggerated. This often results in candidates being selected especially in local elections who may be well known in the community but often lack the required skills to competently fulfil their role when elected as councillors and often have a very poor grasp of the English language.
We still see politicians stand outside Mosques greeting worshippers as that is what someone has told them to do and which somehow will translate into votes. While these methods may have (minimally) held true many years ago it no longer is the case now. The internet and social media means that communicating directly with people from the ethnic minorities like with everyone else is so easy and has to be the way forward especially with those born in this country who are all social media savvy. Elsewhere candidates going to people’s homes and discussing issues has considerably more impact than any other method.
While there are issues specific to these communities such as relating to cohesion, terrorist ideology etc the economy, education and the NHS will like all other communities rank as the priorities when ethnic minorities cast their vote. A Party that consistently gets its message across in these areas will stand a far better chance of success. The days for example of sending Eid cards or messages at the start of Ramadan in the belief that this shows ‘understanding’ of the community have long gone and the sooner this is understood the better.