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General Election 2015: The day Black Britain decides

WARNING: New report says party leaders David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband must engage black voters

TODAY'S THE day Black Britain decides on who will lead our country for the next five years as thousands head to the polls to cast their vote in the general election.

Politicians from Britain’s major parties risk losing the support of black voters for many generations to come if they fail to keep their pre- election promises.

The run up to this year’s general election has seen an unprecedented effort among all the major parties to secure the votes and support of black and minority ethnic (BAME) voters.

The Conservatives, the Labour party, the Liberal Democrats and the Green party have all launched BAME manifestos in recent weeks with a range of promises on issues such as improving employment opportunities for the community, education, mental health and making the criminal justice system fairer.

Recently Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that Britain’s first black prime minister would come from the Conservative party while unveiling his party’s BAME manifesto, which it called its 20/20 vision. And in an exclusive interview with this newspaper the Tory leader told Voice readers that the black community’s key concerns would best be tackled under a Tory government.

DISCREDITED

Meanwhile Labour leader Ed Miliband said he would shut down the “discredited” Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and replace it following a policy review which will have input from Baroness Doreen Lawrence. The party leader also promised to tackle long term unemployment among minority communities.

Not to be outdone the Lib Dems set out their plan to overhaul stop and search powers as well as addressing the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) pay gap. However Dr Omar Khan of race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust told The Voice that if the parties failed to deliver on their pre election promises, it could cause them long term damage in terms of support from BAME voters.

“The concern is, are they only looking at these issues to get the votes or are they going to look at these issues in terms of implementing policies when they’re in government and I think in terms of the next step that’s the real big question mark.”

Identifying how the 2010 coalition of the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, saw both parties abandon pre election pledges Khan said: “When it comes to coalition forming, or whatever we end up with, it is a question of how high a priority will race and race equality be. Given that they’ve all agreed that something should be done, will it appear in a collaborative agreement if that’s what it comes down to? For the next government, it’s going to be really crucial. Not just that they have those nice manifestos with the warm words but that the proof will be what do they actually deliver and will racial inequalities decline over the next five years.”

According to a Runnymede Trust report published in the run up to the general election called Race and Elections, failure to win over ethnic minority voters could cost both the Conservatives and Labour an outright majority. There are now 5 million more BAME people reported in the 2011 Census as compared to 1991. The UK’s ethnic minority population now represents 8 million people: roughly the combined population of Scotland and Wales.

Britain’s diversity is not only growing but it is spreading out across the country from the inner cities to a great many more marginal seats across the suburbs and market towns, the research identifies.
The Runneymede report stresses the complexities in ethnic minority voting, but concluded that race and ethnicity can no longer be viewed as a ‘minority’ concern for any politician seeking to represent modern Britain.

According to Khan, any politician seeking to represent modern Britain cannot afford to treat race and ethnicity as a ‘minority’ concern concludes the research by Runnymede. “Political leaders should be put on notice that black and Asian voters will be watching them, and watching them carefully” he said.

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