Samuel Kasumu is Founder & Trustee of Elevation Networks. Follow Samuel on Twitter.
Last week, the Runnymede Trust helped to produce a report for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community. They found that over 14% of women from ethnic minority backgrounds were unemployed, compared to 6% of white women. I observed - as Labour’s David Lammy took the credit for highlighting a problem – that is in no ways a new phenomenon, and also looked to see where the Conservative voice would come from to comment on thisreport. Would the two Conservative women Ministers for Women & Equality have something to say? Well, no! I guess they were too busy dealing with the challenge of redefining marriage.
The new census has highlighted why we as a party must not ignore such issues, since ethnic minority communities have increased in their overall size of the UK population, and will increase further, even if immigration is controlled. Britain is changing. We have a population that is evolving in more ways than one and, as a party, have been slow to catch up. Less than 90% of the UK population is now white. Interestingly, less than 50% of London is white, with many of the capital's population being born outside of the UK. Boris will not always be Mayor, and even he, with his great popularity, struggled to attract minority voters in May.
The reality is that the United Kingdom will never be the same again. With one in four children in primary schools from an ethnic minority background, it is surely time to realise that the centre right of politics must continue to reorganise and rebrand. We must broaden our appeal without compromising our core values – a challenge that our American counterparts in the Republican Party are also facing. The only way that a Conservative majority will ever be won in the future will be through building new relationships, being prepared to understand the meaning of diversity, and being brave enough to champion policies that promote fairness.
The new Party Vice Chairman, Alok Sharma, is doing a great job and I am sure he will deliver an impressive legacy in the years ahead. To be fair, there are a number of other MPs that have been engaging the many facets of their constituencies, particularly those in very marginal seats with large black and Asian populations. But if others continue to shy away from issues regarding race, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds, then unfortunately progress will not be made sooner. Lord Ashcroft’s report, Degrees of Separation, clearly stated that one of the reasons why only 16% of minority communities vote Conservative is that they feel we had very few spokesmen from their backgrounds. It is very clear that many ethnic minority Conservatives feel it is political suicide to talk about race. Somehow they forget that it was probably their race and/or gender that helped to get them elected through the now defunct A list.
We have less than three years to deliver a strong message that this is a party that wishes to govern the whole country with a strong and convincing mandate. One must remain hopeful that this is possible; with the latest YouGov poll showing Labour’s lead is at just 9 points. But we must also start to be a bit more honest about what we will need to do to truly broaden our appeal. We less emphasis on what may have gone wrong in the past, and more of a focus on what it is we can do to ensure farer future that includes all of this great countries citizens.