Specttrum News / London: Indians may be king makers in the next general elections in UK scheduled for 2015. A close look into the present electorate has revealed that Indians make up the largest Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) group in 175 constituencies in England and Wales. Of these 60 are marginal seats.
Indians are also the largest group in several 'safe' seats - both for Labour and Conservative. These seats are believed to be safe because the MP has the support of these communities.
The ground-breaking research by Operation Black Vote found that in addition to the 203 marginal seats where the BME vote has a significant impact on the result (including 168 marginals where the BME electorate exceeds the MP's majority), there are important patterns relating to individual communities.
Pakistanis make up the largest BME group in 36 constituencies where the overall BME population is over 20% of the total population. Indians are second with the largest BME group in 34 such seats and Bangladeshi's in four. That means South Asian groups are the dominant BME communities in 74 seats.
Using the 2011 census, analysts looked at the BME electorate in all 573 of the seats in England and Wales and found 168 marginal seats where BME voters outnumber the majority held by the sitting MP. Entitled 'The Power of the Black Vote in 2015', the report reveals 168 constituencies in both urban and suburban areas, demonstrating that the BME electorate have never been more powerful.
With more marginal seats and more BME voters right across the geographical map, power is shifting. OBV said, "Political parties must wake up and realise that without the BME vote they could lose - and therefore devise policies to tackle persistent race inequalities."
In the constituency Ilford North for example, Conservatives have a majority of 5,404 and a BME electorate of 35,051. In Cardiff Central, Liberal Democrats have a majority of 4,570 and a BME electorate of 12,445 while in Bristol East, Labour have a majority of 3,772 and a BME electorate of 11,420.
OBV Director Simon Woolley said, "This is great news for BME communities and democracy. Many individuals feel powerless, particularly in the face of rising racial tension and the apparent inability by political parties to acknowledge persistent race inequalities, much less have a plan to deal with it. The power to help decide who wins and who loses the next General Election will no doubt focus the minds of vulnerable politicians and their leaders."
The Liberal Democrat Deputy leader, Simon Hughes MP, said the findings were "very significant".
He added, "Unless all parties and candidates engage with and seek to win BME support, they could be in political difficulty locally and see their general election prospects significantly set back".
Conservative vice-chair Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, who has been given the task of boosting the party's ethnic minority appeal, said, "The analysis speaks for itself in highlighting seats with larger numbers of voters with an ethnic minority background and their potential electoral impact."
Shadow justice minister Sadiq Khan, the MP who ran Labour leader Ed Milliband's leadership campaign said, "The DNA of politics needs to change in the light of this research. This research shows how important the ethnic minority electorate is going to be in future general elections. Any party that seriously wants to win needs to take the ethnic minorities with them."