Uk General Election – who to vote for?

With the UK general election called for May 6th 2010.? It’s time to make sure you are registered to vote.

To register to vote you can visit About My vote

Now there are a great many of you who will be saying that they don’t like politicians, and that what do politicians actually do for you anyway?

Something to consider is, can you actually complain at all if you don’t register or bother to vote? Assuming that you are registered, how to vote, do you vote according to circumstances? Looking at all the party manifesto’s and deciding which set of policies will suit you best? Or do you vote the way you have always voted? Perhaps you are a First time voter, do you vote they way your parents vote or has something in another party appealed to you?

The UK’s black population have traditionally been Labour supporters but we must stop and wonder why is this? Earlham Sociology pages offer us the following explanation.

IPSOS MORI Estimates of Voting Behaviour in the General Election of 1997

Con Lab Lib Dem Other Labour Lead
White 32 43 18 7 11
Non-White 18 70 9 3 52
Asian 22 66 9 3 44
Black 12 82 5 1 70

As is shown above ethnic minority voters [both Asian and Black] were far more likely than White voters to vote Labour and far less likely to vote Conservative in the General election of 1997. This, of course, should come as no surprise since although ethnic minority members can be found throughout the British class structure Afro-Caribbean origin and Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin people are represented disproportionately in the working class, disproportionately likely to experience poverty and also disproportionately likely to live in large conurbations where working class support for Labour is strongest. The discrepancy between Black and Asian voting can be explained at least to some extent by the more privileged situation of Indian voters relative to other ethnic minority voters.

Nevertheless in overall terms ethnic minority members in all social classes are more likely than white voters in the same social classes to vote Labour which suggests that ethnicity has an important independent effect on voting behaviour beyond what would be predicted solely by the consideration of the class situations of ethnic minority voters. Ethnic minority voters may tend to believe that even if significant patterns of ethnic disadvantage continue to exist in UK society, Labour governments have at least addressed these problems more meaningfully than have Conservative governments which, if anything are associated with the hardening of ethnic inequalities especially in the era of Thatcherism.

Furthermore although ethnic minorities are heavily underrepresented among MPS it has traditionally seemed more likely that their representation would increase faster in the Labour Party and in the 2005 General Election 13 Labour ethnic minority MPs were elected compared with two Conservative ethnic minority MPS and no Liberal Democrat ethnic minority MPs . However Labour did face significant problems as a result of the defection from Labour of many Muslim voters as a response to the Iraq war although Labour only lost one parliamentary seat [Bethnal Green and Bow] as a result of such defections. More recently David Cameron has emphasised his desire to increase the numbers of ethnic minority parliamentary candidates in winnable seats and it is therefore possible that ethnic minority support [especially perhaps among Indian voters] for the Conservatives could increase especially given the difficult political situation currently faced by the Labour Party.

Minority Ethnic MPs in the British Parliament
Minority Ethnic MPs in the British Parliament

Looking at the statistics from Parliament, we can see that the ethnic make up of successful candidates from Labour and the Conservatives in the period between 1987 and 2005 shows a stark contrast in minority MP’s.

Labour are well known for promoting their ethnic minority candidates, the first black MP’s Were elected in 1987 and they were the late Bernie Grant, Dianne Abbot and Paul Boateng. Whilst grant and Abbot tended to be more outspoken Boateng did well, finishing his career as Financial Secretary to the Treasury. It should be noted though that Boateng didn’t become home secretary though, despite him being in a senior position to Charles Clarke at the time of Clarkes appointment.

Today David Lammy is Minister for culture and in the house of Lord Baroness Scotland QC is the attorney general Britain’s Highest Lawyer, also Baroness Amos (now High Commissioner to Australia) served as leader of the House of Lords.

Well that’s Labour but how are the Tories doing They have 2 Asian Mp’s and one black MP in Adam? Afriyie although they did try in 1992, when John Taylor stood unsuccessfully in Cheltenham , losing to the Liberal Democrats in a campaign influenced by the issue of race, with Taylor’s West Indian background causing concern to some members of the local Conservative party.

The Liberal democrats, are somewhat surprisingly lacking in ethnic representation, true the old Liberal party did have the first Asian MP ever Dadabhai Naoroji,? from 1892-1895? today they have no members of Parliament from the ethnic minorities.

A New Age?

So, with a new election will there be more black faces representing us this time round. A quick glance at the PPC lists would certainly suggest that there are more black and Asian candidates than ever before, whether or not they are elected though remains to be seen.? Are they standing in winnable seats?

Now that you are in possession of a some background info about who is standing where and for what party, and also the history of the parties, what are the issues that are important to you the black voter? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Related Links:

Blacknet – Who will you vote for Survey

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