Tory minister says party is performing appallingly among ethnic minorities
Damian Green says black and Asian voters are ‘completely disengaged’ from party in recording obtained by Guardian.
A Conservative minister has admitted his party is performing “appallingly” among minority ethnic voters who he says are “completely disengaged” from the party.
The policing minister Damian Green told a Tory Reform Group conference that the party could have won a majority of up to 70 at the last general election if black and Asian voters had supported it on the same scale as “Anglo-Saxon whites”.
The unusually forthright comments, a recording of which has been obtained by the Guardian, demonstrate the growing concerns amongConservatives, particularly among One Nation Tories, at their failure to win over minority ethnic people whose votes have become crucial to winning marginal seats in large towns and cities.
“We all know that there are people and groups in this country who have become completely disengaged with the Conservative party – we do appallingly among any ethnic minority group,” Green told the meeting, held last Sunday at the Royal Overseas League in central London.
“If ethnic minority groups had voted Conservative on the same scale that white Anglo-Saxons had, then we would have had a majority of 60 or 70. It makes a huge difference, so we have got to do much better amongst those groups,” he said.
In August, a study by the cross-party group Operation Black Vote found the number of seats where black and Asian voters could decide the outcome had increased by 70% compared with the 2010 election. The Conservatives secured 16% of the minority vote at the last election, compared with 68% for Labour.
At the same meeting, Ryan Shorthouse, the director of the leading Conservative thinktank Bright Blue, voiced his concerns at the Tories’ reach, saying: “Too many people in the CDE socio-economic background believe the Tories are the party of the rich.”
David Cameron is facing a dilemma because many minority ethnic voters still perceive the Conservatives as racist, a perceptionacknowledged by one of the party’s Muslim parliamentary candidates, Afzal Amin, who is standing in Dudley North.
Some senior minority ethnic Tories have privately said that the party is unlikely to change that perception if it continues to implement controversial anti-immigration policies such as the “Go Home” billboards driven through areas with high immigrant populations.
One claimed on Friday that Lynton Crosby, the election strategist, remained highly influential in No 10 and had told the prime minister not to stray from one of the party’s central messages – to be tough on immigration.
“Cameron won’t change that strategy before the election because Crosby believes that the need to beat Ukip is of greater importance than the need to win over non-white voters,” the source said.
Jon Ashworth, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, said Green’s comments showed that Cameron had failed to modernise the Tories. “Even David Cameron’s ministers know that he has failed to modernise the Conservative party. The Tories remain out of touch with modern Britain and stand up for the wrong people,” he said.
However, a report released in April by the Demos thinktank suggested Labour risked losing its traditional support from black and Asian voters as they moved to the suburbs. The report by Trevor Phillips, the former Labour politician and former head of the equalities watchdog, and Richard Webber, a professor of geography at University College London, suggested “upwardly mobile” minority ethnic voters were more likely to turn Tory.
- The Guardian,