The cover feature in this week’s New Statesman is a report on the Tory relationship with Britain’s black voters – Black and Blue. The article by David Matthews notes that the Tories won just 2% of the Black and Minority Ethnic vote at the last election. Can it be turned around?
Two black candidates – selected for the Conservatives in target seats – think it can.
Chippenham constituency’s Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones is quoted in David Matthews’ piece: ""The Labour Party has had the black vote for over 50 years and what have they done with it? Where are the black MPs on the Labour front bench?"
If Labour have failed to promote black talent, Shaun Bailey – our Hammersmith candidate – also believes that Labour is talking about the wrong issues: "Climate change, obesity and the environment are not what black people want to hear about. Black people want policies that address crime, education, single parenthood."
The black vote could be crucial for winning the London Mayoralty for Boris Johnson next year. Ken Livingstone understands that and that is why his proxies launched an all-out assault on him in August over his record on race.
Key to connecting to black voters will be to recognise their concerns about crime and public services – as Shaun Bailey does – but also to recognise that a huge proportion are socially conservative and churchgoers. The Conservative Christian Fellowship has organised a series of meetings between black churchleaders and the Tory leadership in a bid to ensure that the party understands their concerns. Support for the family and for faith-based social action should be a key ingredient of Tory efforts to transform that embarrassing 2% figure. David Cameron addressed related themes in the 2007 William Wilberforce Address.
The party leadership’s attempts to win support amongst minority communities also partly explains – rightly or wrongly – the speed with which Caroline Spelman moved to end the career of Nigel Hastilow.