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Lord FlightLord Flight was Shadow Chief Secretary to the
Treasury 2001-2004 and led for the Opposition on the FSMA.  He is now
chairman of Flight & Partners Recovery Fund.

In straight number terms, Obama won because 93% of the black
community, 71% of Latinos, 60% of those aged 18-24 and 55% of women voted for
him.  The two latter were the most
numerate groups. This, effectively, out-voted 59% of white voters supporting
Romney.

Behind these figures, however, are I believe some very
different factors.  Perhaps the most
important was the women’s vote. 
Conservative Governments in the UK only won General Elections in the 20th
Century, post the enfranchisement of women, when they had a lot of the women’s
vote.  I suggest Romney’s problem was
that his anti-abortion ticket offended a majority of women voters who, understandably,
take the view that these matters are not the business of politicians.  Put another way, the “fundamentalist”
constituency within the Republican Party is losing it elections. 

The huge 93% vote for Obama by black voters
is, I believe, not surprising and understandable and represented only 9% of
total votes.  Given US history, if I were
black I would vote for the first black Presidential candidate, whatever his or
her views.


Arguably, the Latino, 71%
vote for Obama, is the most worrying statistics, put in a UK context.  America’s great success, until recently, has
been to have an education system which has converted immigrants of all
backgrounds into being firstly, proud American citizens.  Central to this has been that all teaching
has been in English.  I suggest that
changing to allow teaching in Spanish in predominantly Latino-populated areas
is unfortunately divisive – counter to making everyone Americans and
encouraging ethnic allegiances ahead of national allegiances.  There are analogies in the UK in terms of not
integrating immigrant communities adequately. The Latino vote was in part
motivated by both concerns over Republican public spending and welfare cuts,
and tighter immigration policies. 

Like
the Republicans, the Conservatives also need to do better in securing young
voters’ support, but fewer tend to vote in the UK.

Turning to the UK, those who should most support the
Conservative Party, as the Party of aspiration and hard work, are the Punjabi,
Indian Sub-continent community who have the strongest achievement and work
ethic in the county.  Yet the evidence is
that they are majority Labour voters.  I
suggest that if the leader of the Conservative Party were Punjabi, we would
have a large majority of the Indian sub-continent vote.  The lesson here is that the Conservative
Party should have very visible Indian representatives amongst leading
Government Ministers, with whom the Indian electorate would identify.  The Conservatives’ problem in securing more
Indian sub-continent votes has not, I believe, been their message but that
there is no ready identification with the Conservative Party.

The message with regard to female voters is, I suggest, very
obvious – the Conservative Party must avoid being associated with issues, such
as abortion, which offend women voters. 
They must also understand better what are the issues which are important
for women.

There is, however, a much more delicate and difficult issue
with regard to the wider immigrant vote. 
I believe it would be simply wrong for the Conservative Party to “go
slow” on its policies to rationalise welfare (which measures are actually
generous) and to address welfare fraud; or to water down tightening up on
immigration policies.  We are already
more densely populated than the Indian sub-continent.  We want, and need, immigrants who bring
valuable skills to this country, but we are too densely populated already to
continue what was effectively an “open house” policy under the Labour
Government.  A fight with the EU is
ensuing to contain tens of thousands of Eastern European immigrants coming to
the UK with access to the NHS next year when the existing limits of the last 5
years expire.  Some of the immigrant
communities would agree with this, but many may not.

Finally, it might be argued that Romney did not identify
sufficiently with the aspirations and views of the “indigenous” white collar
American voters.  Here there is a
crucially important presentational point for the Conservatives.  I have always believed it fundamental for the
Conservative Party to be recognised as the Party of aspiration and not of a
privileged elite.  This is not about
paternalistic “social responsibility” politics – rather the reverse – but much
more about identity.  Again, the
Conservative Party needs to have a healthy leavening of articulate “Norman
Tebbit” Conservatives amongst its leading Ministers, with the ability to
communicate realistic, populist Conservatism.

As regards mainstream policies, one deduction from the US
Presidential Elections is that these matter less than voter
identification?  What is, I suggest,
self-evident here is that the Conservative Party needs to get across much more
effectively that the Gordon Brown high-spending, Government omnipotent policies
have been largely responsible for landing this country in the economic mess it
is in; i.e. wildly unaffordable Government spending – rather more than “the
bankers”.  Here it was 2 particular
banks, irresponsibly led, which caused major banking problems; but the banking
problems have contributed to, rather than been the main cause, of the larger,
Government deficit problems.  I think
people do understand that the public sector has to be reduced if the country is
to prosper.  What people want is an
understandable map – rather than one off, or gimmicky policies – as to how the
UK can return to prosperity.

The Socialist, anti-market economy, high public spending
and, self-defeating, wealth redistribution policies, which Labour now espouses,
need to be challenged robustly and not appeased.  We thought this sort of rubbish ended when
the Berlin Wall came down.  It should
never be forgotten that the GNP of Russia actually declined between 1914 (after
it went Communist) and 1980.  Nothing
demonstrates more the economic failure of State-directed, left wing management
of an economy.  As soon as possible,
Britain needs a smaller State, lower taxes and more competition – these are the
key ingredients for economic recovery.

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