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#BME: Ethnic voters more interested in politics, more optimistic than white counterparts – Study

Young voters from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds are more interested in politics than their white counterparts despite the mediocre representation of BMW communities in politics, a major new study has revealed.

Results of the study, titled ‘Our Ethnic Youth: Re-defining Gen Y’ and conducted by UK media agency Manning Gottlieb, reveals that 44% of Black and Asian voters aged 18 – 29 took a keen interest in politics, compared to 39% of white voters of the same age group.

However, the research also reveals that BME voters are significantly less likely to vote in the next general election: 34% saying they would be very likely to vote as compared with 44% of white youths.

Researchers say that this may be because the representation of ethnic minorities in parliament remains poor, with less than 5% of all MP’s hailing from a BME background.

More than sixty percent of young ethnic voters questioned for the research said that ethnic minority representation in politics and public life was important, compared with less than 20% of young white voters agreeing.

Alison Tsang, the head of insight at Manning Gottlieb, said: “Politics are really important to ethnic young people. But when we looked at voting intention in the next general election, our white British youth are significantly more likely to vote, compared with our ethnic youth.

“It’s not because the ethnic youth are not engaged or don’t care about politics. If we look at all the research that we have, it’s probably a representation issue at the moment: there’s no kind of motivating representatives in the field of politics.”

Manning Gottlieb questioned 2000 young people for the research in what the agency claims is the biggest project of its kind in the UK.

Among the other findings of the research is a sense of optimism felt by a surprising majority of ethnic minority youths about life in the United Kingdom with 64% agreeing that there are opportunities aplenty in Britain – compared with just over half of white youth – and a greater appreciation of life in Britain (78% vs 69%) as well as a stronger desire to be based in the UK than anywhere else in the world (56% vs 44%).

The research confirms the generally held view, particularly among British Asians, that second or third generation ethnic youth are far more likely to participate in politics than their parents or grandparents.

Historically ethnic minority voters have been less likely to vote than the white population.  As recently as the 2010 general election, less than a fifth of all ethnic minorities were not even registered to vote, compared with just seven percent of the white population. 

The study will doubtless also make for interesting reading for all three major political parties as the ethnic vote is set to be key in next year’s general election.

In recent weeks both Labour and the Conservatives have been scrambling for the British Asian vote with both party leaders attending a variety of community events: a campaign that will intensify in the coming days and weeks when British Indians begin Diwali celebrations.

On 20 October, Downing Street will be hosting a Diwali reception for more than 200 members of the British Indian community, on the same day as the Labour party will holds its annual Diwali celebration just down the road.

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