The ‘Black vote’ can play a significant part in deciding who wins the 2017 snap general election.
Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities have been a major factor in past elections, and the collective BME vote is getting more powerful for two reasons.
First, Britain has rising BME population that was 14 percent at the 2011 census and continues to grow. Second, BME voters are increasingly moving out of safe Labour ‘inner city’ seats and into more marginal or swing seats.
Our new Power of the Black Vote research (see link) has found that in 2017, the top 10 most marginal seats in England and Wales all have a BME electorate larger than the majority of the MP who was elected last time. The BME electorate is significantly larger than the majority in seven of those ten seats.
45 of the top 50 most marginal seats have a BME electorate larger than the 2015 majority. Significantly so in 31 of those seats.
And almost half (96) of the top 200 most marginal seats have BME populations large enough to help determine the results in those constituencies.
We found that the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats need the BME vote in 2017 to win their targets. Even considering current polling showing Theresa May’s party ahead, failure to take a major slice of the BME vote could mean her Commons majority is much lower than predicted.
For Labour, holding onto the BME vote in 2017 is crucial. After losing Scotland in 2015, and facing struggles to retain working class northern previous strongholds that heavily voted Leave, Jeremy Corbyn can ill-afford to see more BME votes. 34 marginal Labour seats rely very heavily on keeping the same BME vote as last time.
And for the Lib Dems, their hopes of winning back many of the seats they lost in the 2015 disaster rest on the extent they can appeal to BME communities, which remains a challenge for Tim Farron’s party.