Labour is a shambles  - but what can the Conservative Party do to win over the BAME vote?

Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has worked hard to present a Conservative vision to BAME voters

We can all agree that the 2017 election wasn’t a success for the Conservative Party.

Forced into a minority government due to Labour snatching an unprecedented amount of seats from younger voters, the Conservative party ended up having to form a confidence-and-supply agreement with the DUP.

However, since then, the state of Labour has deteriorated.

From the antisemitism storm, to the ridicule that has coalesced around the leadership of the party due its failure to condemn Venezuela, it is clear that the Tories can take advantage of this and rebuild themselves as a credible option to far-left socialism. Polls suggest that this is possible.

The most recent by YouGov showed a seven-point lead over Labour, despite the Brexit chaos. But one of the most important questions we must ask ourselves where this is concerned, is how the Conservatives can capitalise on this to attract support amongst BAME voters. 

Theresa May on election night 2017

It is no secret that the Conservative party has struggled with non-white voters throughout much of its existence.

This was particularly apparent in the last election, with May only garnering a disappointing 19% of votes from ethnic minorities. However, 2015 was an interesting year for the BAME vote, with the Conservatives gaining 33% of the ethnic minority vote, compared to just 16% in 2010.

Members of the Conservative Muslim Forum

If the Conservatives had attracted the same number of BAME voters as they had white voters in 2017, they would have had a comfortable majority of 46 seats. Brexit is a factor in this, as BAME voters overwhelmingly voted remain, but once Brexit is finalised on the 29th March, the Conservatives can use this opportunity to develop domestic policy.

So what can the Tories do to capitalise on this if they can at all?

Well, according to a 2018 poll by Ipsos Mori, 33% of BAME voters who hadn’t voted Conservative in the last election, would entertain the possibility in the future. This presents a massive opportunity for Conservatives to become a success with ethnic minorities if they quite simply get it right.

But what motivates this and why do Labour have such a stronghold over BAME communities?

Labour are perceived to capitalise on issues that impact those living in inner city communities and low skilled workers, focussing on issues like wages, welfare and funding public services.

If the Conservatives stand any chance of winning the BAME vote, it is important that they make the case for conservatism - free enterprise and personal responsibility - and demonstrate why those important values can empower minority communities more than socialism ever could.

For example, let’s talk more about the consistently higher employment rates for ethnic minorities under the Conservatives compared to Labour, with employment for ethnic minorities at its highest levels since 2004, respectively at 65%. 

Of course, however, there is still much more to be done. Things like rent controls, higher taxes and irresponsible spending are bound to make the poor even poorer in the long run, and it is important that Conservatives coherently make this apparent to minority communities, by countering these ideas with ideas of our own.

Driving down taxes for lower earners would be fantastic, as we currently see the tax burden at a 50-year high.

This could also include increasing the bracket of taxable income for small businesses, incentivising those from ethnic minority communities to invest and stimulate their local economy, whilst also incentivising self-employment within the black community significantly, as we have seen a gradual increase in black self-employment rates since 2004.

Additionally, cracking down on housing pressures by deregulating planning permissions, facilitating the building of more affordable housing could help.

The Party must also tap into not only economic but social potential, which also means more investment in family planning, youth clubs, financial incentives for two parent households and easing the pressures of childcare for lower earners, not just middle earners.

This does not all have to be at a government level, councils, if given adequate funding, could invest money into projects that would benefit their specific local area. 

Nevertheless, working towards detoxifying the party image where race is concerned is of upmost importance; the single biggest driver of not voting Conservative, according to Lord Cooper Windrush, is being non-white, despite minority communities tending to have more conservative values.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid, the first BAME MP to hold such a position

That means non-white conservatives must spread the message, making convincing, common-sense arguments and getting our faces out there, which also includes standing for election.

If we are more present and demonstrate an interest in politics and the way governmental policies impact our lives, this will also give more of an incentive for politicians to actually fight for our vote and implement positive change

by Dominique Samuels

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