In the run-up to the General Election, David Cameron went out of his way to reach out to the Britain’s Hindu community.
From inviting hundreds to 10 Downing Street to celebrate Diwali to addressing thousands at scores of Hindu temples up and down the country, Mr Cameron made sure he leveraged the power of a group of voters, many of whom, say they share his party’s Conservative values.
His return to 10 Downing Street may have had more to do with his schmoozing than many think, according to new research.
Nearly half of all British Hindus voted for Mr Cameron, some of the more than one million ethnic minority voters who backed the Tories, the best result in the party’s history.
Research by the think tank British Future found that 49% of Hindus voted for Mr Cameron whilst 41% voted Labour. However, Labour remained in the lead among all Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) voters, gaining 52% of the vote.
49% Sikhs also voted for the Conservatives whilst a significant majority of Muslims – 64% – voted for the Labour party.
Many British Indian voters the UKAsian spoke to revealed that they were attracted to the Conservatives’ values of entrepreneurialism, hard work as well as Mr Cameron’s performance on the economy.
Many voters focused on these issues despite Mr Cameron’s harder stance on immigration from South Asia – policies that have had a far greater impact on British Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan communities and far less so on British Indians.
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said that voters may also have been wooed by the Conservatives’ “aspirational” message.
“Minority voters still prefer Labour to the Conservatives. But where Labour once held on to these voters when they became more affluent, through an appeal to fairness and solidarity that may now have broken down.
“If it presents itself only as a party of the underdog, Labour may send a message to aspirational ethnic minority voters that, if you get on in British society, you ‘trade up’ to the Tories – just as C2s did for Margaret Thatcher.”
Katwala said in towns and cities such as Watford, Swindon and Milton Keynes, the Conservatives had polled well with “aspirational” BAME voters. “The middle-England ‘Mondeo Man’ of the 2015 election could well be a British Asian,” he said, in reference to the middle class voters wooed by Tony Blair in the late 1990’s.