The race for representation

Posted on 23 March 2015

“The race for representation: how ethnic diversity became the ‘new normal’ in British politics”, a 26-page report from British Future, analyses the chances of victory of the ethnic minority candidates standing in the 2015 election and makes a series of projections based on different electoral scenarios.

Key findings include:

-A record number of ethnic minority MPs will be elected in 2015, with 40+ ethnic minority MPs likely to be elected. If each seat is won by the candidate who is currently favourite, 44 non-white MPs will be elected in May, a 60% increase on the record 27 ethnic minority MPs elected in 2010.

-While the possible range for ethnic minority MPs is between 36 and 47 MPs elected across the full range of conceivable election outcomes, our central projection is that between 40-45 ethnic minority MPs is the likely outcome, especially if neither party wins an overall majority.

-The Conservatives have been most likely to select new non-white candidates for safe seats. The party could well secure the most newly elected ‘class of 2015’ non-white MPs.  If the Conservatives were to win an overall majority, we project that they would also overtake Labour to have most of the ethnic minority MPs in the Commons, with seven of the eleven new ‘class of 2015’ ethnic minority MPs being Tories.

-In a hung Parliament, the balance of minority representation between the parties would depend on the precise seat count:
If the two major parties were tied in House of Commons seats, (eg 276 seats each) as would happen if each party won the seats where it is currently the favourite, our projection suggests there would be around 24 non-white Labour MPs and 17 Conservatives, with one SNP MP, one UKIP MP of mixed heritage and one Lib Dem (see below).  Our projection is that there would be nine Labour first-time ethnic minority MPs and seven new Conservative ethnic minority MPs in this scenario.

-In a hung Parliament with a Conservative-led minority or coalition government, the gap would be narrower: in this scenario, we would project 18 ethnic minority Conservatives to 21 Labour MPs, plus three MPs from other parties (the SNP, Lib Dems and UKIP). The Conservatives would elect more new, ‘class of 2015’ MPs – seven Conservatives to six from Labour – while Labour would hold on to a slight overall lead in the Commons as a whole.

-Labour has been less likely to select ethnic minority candidates to succeed retiring MPs, but more likely to select non-white candidates in seats that the party hopes to gain. If a Labour majority government were to be elected, then Labour would double its number of ethnic minority MPs, and extend its lead over the Conservatives. The number of ethnic minority MPs elected could well rise to 47 or more, with 30 Labour and 15 Conservative MPs, and two from other parties.

-The Liberal Democrats are again unlikely to elect any non-white MPs, though they have one white candidate with Irish traveller heritage who self-identifies as BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic).

-Of the dozen seats in which UKIP’s chances are strongest, one candidate – Tim Aker in Thurrock – has mixed-race heritage as his father was Turkish.