James Forsyth

Can the Tories win black votes?

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Clive points to a fascinating New Statesman story by David Matthews on whether the Tories can pick up significant black support at the next election—last time out they only got 2 percent of the black vote, compared to 80 percent for Labour. As the piece points out, the Tories now for the first time have black candidates, and a black MP, who could make it to the very top.

Wary as I am about talking about blocs of voters in terms determined by their ethnicity, the Tories really should aspire to a far higher proportion of the black vote; especially as their idea of allowing non-state bodies, such as faith groups, to take on some of the roles of a state should appeal to a community where 40% of people regularly attend church.  The Tories are already planning to make a faith-based pitch to black churchgoers as those leaked Desmond Swayne emails revealed a while back.

David Matthews’s essay assumes that until there is a black middle class there won’t be significant support for the Tories from the black community. I wouldn’t be so sure of this. As Fraser has argued, the welfare state is now in certain respects entrenching poverty rather than lifting people out of it. Awareness of that is rising across the board and account for the politics of Tory candidate Shaun Bailey; as he tells Matthews, ‘left-wing politics equals welfare politics.’ Indeed, Bailey’s views are more robust than those of most Tories. One very old school Tory told me that talking to Bailey made him feel like a ‘bloody liberal.’ 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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