`Ethnic minorities to play a decisive role in 2010 polls’

Ethnic minorities constitute 40 per cent in 25 constituencies

14th January 2010:
Even as some of the political parties like the British National Party have opposing mass immigration, a study has revealed that the role of the immigrants in the 2010 general elections cannot be overlooked. The general elections are expected to be held in May this year.

The research by Prof Muhammad Anwar of the University of Warwick, in fact, says South Asian voters will play decisive role in 2010 UK poll. Rather, their role in the impending elections will be more decisive than in any previous poll in Britain.

The research says as many as 25 parliamentary constituencies have more than 40 per cent of their voting population from ethnic minorities. It predicts voters from the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities are more likely to turn up for voting than their white neighbours.

Prof Anwar asserts ethnic minorities voter registration is approaching levels of white voters and turnout is now higher than the national average.

He goes on to suggest even though the ethnic minority vote will be more important than ever before, they are still ‘massively undervalued and under-represented’.

Their importance can be gauged from the fact that during the previous 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.

Prof Anwar says their 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.

Giving a breakup, the report says nationally ethnic minorities amount to 10 per cent of the population. But 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 with 66.3 per cent, Birmingham Ladywood with 64.9 per cent, Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath with 64.8 per cent, and Brent South with 64.6 per cent.

Prof Anwar believes the effective representation of ethnic minorities in politics is crucial to the achievement of equality of opportunity across the 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.

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