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Anti-immigration views 'alienating' voters from main parties

NEW LABOUR: This election campaign leaflet that has been criticised

A TOUGH approach to immigration could cost the Conservatives crucial votes in the upcoming general election, a new study has found.

In Britain, there are four million people eligible to vote who were born overseas, and where they place their vote on May 7 could have a decisive impact on up to 70 marginal seats across England and Wales, according to analysis from the University of Manchester and the Migrants Rights Network.

The majority of these voters – representing 10 per cent of the electorate – hail from Commonwealth communities including Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

It reinforces the need for the Tories to widen its appeal to ethnic minority voters.

In 2010, only 16 per cent of black, Asian and other ethnic minorities backed the party.

If that voting pattern repeats itself, the Tory’s would fall short of securing a Commons majority.

The report’s co-author, Rob Ford of the University of Manchester, said: “Ukip have made all the running with the immigration debate in the past few years and we have seen all of the parties looking to offer a harder line on migrants.

“But there is another side to this debate – millions of hardworking British citizens who came to this country from abroad who find this kind of rhetoric profoundly alienating. These figures should serve as a wake-up call to politicians of all parties.”

Ruth Grove-White, of the Migrants Rights Network, said: “The electoral voice of migrants themselves has been largely overlooked. This new data shows just how important it is to speak to this constituency.”

However, the Labour Party, which has enjoyed decades of support from black and ethnic minorities, has also come under attack for trying to “out-kip Ukip” following an election campaign leaflet promising a “tough new approach” to immigration.

The leaflet promised "Labour will stop people claiming benefit until they have lived here for at least two years" and "Labour will make sure all frontline public sector staff can speak English".

David Lammy, the member for Tottenham and a London mayoral hopeful, tweeted: Surprised this is a Labour flyer. We're a pro-immigration party: let's not race to the bottom trying to out-kip UKIP.”

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