Black and ethnic minority voters say the Conservative party is only for the rich

Black and ethnic minority voters say the Conservative party is only for “rich, white people”, according to a London-based focus group from QMUL’s Mile End Institute, HuffPost UK, and Edelman

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Theresa May
Theresa May

The group was critical of “in-house bickering” in the Labour Party while the Conservatives were regarded as showing “a united front”. Despite concerns about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and Labour in-fighting, six of the eight voters said they would vote for Labour on 8 June.

The group said the Conservatives exist to maintain the status quo and would do nothing to help poor people and minorities.

One member of the group said: “…even if you think you want to vote Conservative as a non-white person it’s sometimes very challenging because you remember historically this party wanted to conserve the status quo, which was a society for whites.”

Theresa May received some praise from the group for strong leadership, while others felt she may be out of her depth. One participant said “she reminds me of a steady captain on a steady ship”.

Jeremy Corbyn also received a mix of qualified praise and criticism. One participant said: “You get people being really disrespectful to Jeremy Corbyn, really rude. You can’t have a leader and be disrespectful and expect people to follow that leader.”

Another criticised the ongoing discord in the Labour Party, “If you have such disrepute publically why should I have faith in what they plan to do. It’s left me confused.”

Tim Bale, Professor of Politics at QMUL said: "What really stands out - and it goes all the way back to the Tories in the sixties and seventies being tough on immigration but lukewarm on anti-discrimination - is that the Conservatives, even when Labour's seen as a shambles, still can't pass the sniff test with so many ethnic minority voters."

Students skeptical about promise to abolish fees

In a separate focus group, students reacted sceptically to Labour’s pledge to scrap tuition fees. Participants in the group said that while tuition fees should be reduced, they should not be abolished.

The students were dismissive of Labour’s chances in the election and were virtually united in their belief that Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t up to the job of being Labour leader.

Of the eight who took part in the group, only one was certain to vote Labour, with two backing the Tories, one the Lib Dems and the others currently undecided.

Professor Philip Cowley, Director of QMUL’s Mile End Institute, said: “The lazy assumption is always that students will just vote en masse for whoever promises them reduced tuition fees.

“But this is a good reminder that voters are more astute than that – and are often sceptical about what can seem like obvious bungs to acquire their votes – and that students have a range of interests and concerns, not just their education”

While one of the students described the Conservatives as “slimey”, and another as “the nasty party” - others referred positively to Theresa May’s slogan, “strong and stable”.

Theresa May was seen by one student as “there to clean up the boys’ mess”, while the Labour supporter in the room praised her as a “good leader” who will perform well in the Brexit negotiations. “She’s lucky, she has an easy job. She’s got a terrible opposition. She doesn’t have to do anything,” he said.

More information

  • The first focus group was made up of ethnic minority voters, living in London, aged 20-60, in social grades C1 or C2, from families that have not habitually been Conservative or UKIP voters
  • The second focus group was made up of students in higher education, living in London, aged 18-29. The focus group was conducted on Thursday 11 May
  • The focus groups were conducted in partnership with HuffPo UK and Edelman UK

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