Ukip’s black candidates join tussle for ethnic minority vote in Croydon

Ukip’s black candidates join tussle for ethnic minority vote in Croydon

Alienation from the main parties and fears about immigration from eastern Europe draw candidates in to Nigel Farage’s fold.

Before the singing, dancing and sermons, the preacher in Croydon held up the voting form for next week’s election and fixed his congregation’s attention.

“You have a choice of 15 different political parties,” he told the mostly black worshippers at the Elim Pentecostal church. “If you believe in democracy you should vote for a party. This is not a party political broadcast from me but you have that choice.”

Influencing which box they tick is a significant new challenge facing Britain’s political class. The UK’s ethnic minority groups are predicted to grow from 14% to 30% of the population by 2050 and the parties are wrestling with how to respond. With a week to go until the European andlocal elections, Croydon, in south London, with its tight marginal seats and minority population heading towards 70%, is a key battleground.

“The local MPs want to come and see me because they know that on a Sunday I can get over 500 people coming in,” said the pastor, Cornelius Osei-Fosu, after a service which touched on Syria, church expansion and the rapture. “It is not about befriending me, but getting those votes.”

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