Chuka Umunna has launched an independent inquiry into Labour’s support from ethnic minority voters, after warning that the party is “shedding” support among those areas of the public.
Speaking to Unison’s Black Members’ Conference in Wales this morning, Umunna highlighted the importance voters from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds play in elections, citing new House of Commons library research that shows that a third of constituencies have a number of BAME voters larger than that of the MP’s majority.
He highlighted how Conservative support from BAME voters had risen between 2010 and 2015, while support for Labour is on the wane, and how middle class ethnic minority voters trusted the Tories more on the economy – showing how they were successfully communicating to aspirational voters in crucial swing seats.
“In spite of all we have delivered, too often we have given the impression that we take our ethnic minority communities’ support for granted,” Umunna said of Labour’s relationship with BAME voters. “We cannot afford to do this.”
The former Shadow Business Secretary added that “alarm bells should be ringing” for Labour:
“Since 2005 the Conservative Party has been assiduously courting support across our different communities and it is yielding results
“Conservative support amongst ethnic minority voters at the 2015 General Election jumped to 33% – 1 million ethnic minority voters helped put David Cameron in Downing Street, the best result in that party’s history. Meanwhile our support dropped to 52%. So an extraordinary jump for the Tories – a doubling of support – and a big drop in support for us. The alarm bells should be ringing.”
And he hit out at claims that Labour had lost its identity while in Government, and derided the idea that there is any “glory in opposition”. Umunna said:
“Labour – in and out of Government – was not and never has been just another shade of Tory: the overwhelming majority of what we did delivered far greater social justice in Britain. That is our legacy and we should all be proud of it. Read all the equality impact assessments of our policies in government to see what I’m talking about.
“Now I can understand why, if you have never had need to use a children’s centre, or if every generation of your family has habitually gone on to university, if you have never been on the minimum wage or indeed your family has never suffered the racism of the police, why Labour’s achievements in office – and I could list many more – might not mean so much to you. But they made a fundamental difference to the lives of the people I represent.
“There is no glory in opposition – we can force the odd u-turn as we did on tax credits but the Tories are in the driving seat. That is why we must kick these Tories out in 2020, and – make no mistake – we will kick them out with a purpose: to fashion a politics of hope that brings together all communities around justice, peace and prosperity, for all Britons not just the top 1%.”