UK House to discuss growing Indian clout

LONDON (TIP) : Britain’s House of Lords is all set to debate one of the most prominent new trends in British politics – the growing clout of the Indian vote as seen in the recently concluded British parliamentary elections.

Eminent political theorist of Indian origin Lord Bhiku Parekh will chair the first debate on May 27, since the historic results of the general elections on May 8 that saw the David Cameron led Conservative Party embarrass every known electoral poll to come back into power with a majority.

The 6.94 lakh strong Indian-born population was the largest foreign-born group in the country that voted.

Experts believe that one of the major reasons for Conservatives’ dream run was the crucial India vote.

For the first time ever, many believe that Indians living in the UK who were traditional Labour Party supporters swung in the favour of the Conservatives.

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Lord Parekh told TOI “We want to use the elections as a mirror of deeper political trends among the British Indian community. We want to address questions like how many Indians voted, who they voted for, why they voted in such large numbers and what pushed them to decide on their candidates. In UK, around 66% of those registered voted”.

The panellists will include senior policy makers of the British government, newly election Indian origin MPs, academics and political commentators.

He added “We want to understand the political engagement of the Indian community here in British politics. We saw significant new trends this elections – more Indians voted for the Conservative Party than ever before, David Cameron went all out to woo the Hindu community who are fast moving away from the Labour Party”.

One of the speakers at the debate will be eminent publisher and editor of Asian Voice C B Patel. He told TOI “We saw a renewed interest in politics among the British Indian community in the recent election. Even the

Conservative Party took notice and actively wooed the voters of Indian origin. We will discuss the role the ethnic Indian community in Britain will now play post the election results”.

The Indian diaspora in Britain did play king maker in the elections.

Almost 4 million voters – about one in 10 of the entire electorate in England and Wales – have been found to be born abroad. Indians emerged the largest chunk with as many as 615,000 possible voters.

In 2010, 68% of black and minority ethnic voters supported Labour, whilst the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats received 16% and 14% of the vote share respectively.

A recent British Election Study said that the number of Indian voters identifying with the Labour party has fallen from 77% in 1997 to just 18% in 2014.

The migrant vote was largest in London – 19 of the top 20 seats with largest migrant voter shares, and over 40 of the top 50 seats, are in the capital.

As many as 13 major candidates for the Conservative party were of Indian origin which excluded the party’s four top leaders in parliament- Alok Sharma who is MP from Reading West, Shailesh Vara who is MP from North West Cambridgeshire, Paul Uppal MP from Wolverhampton South West and Priti Patel from Witham. Labour fielded 14 candidates.

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