Is the Conservative party doing enough to attract ethnic minority voters? We’ve reported previous pushes by Chairman Grant Shapps and Home Secretary Theresa May to appeal to groups who have centre-right values but are turned off the Tories. But the FT today suggests that the top of the party is struggling to show enthusiasm, with one party insider claiming that Lynton Crosby feels it ‘muddies the message’ to move away from economy, jobs, welfare and immigration.
The party’s candidate in Dudley North, Afzal Amin, agrees that the Conservatives are failing to communicate properly with ethnic minority voters. He told Coffee House:
‘What’s very clear to me is that in the Sandwell and Dudley areas where I grew up and I now live, for the vast majority of people, whether they’re black or from the Indian subcontinent, the general perception is that the party remains a racist party and we have not done enough to convince them that this is not the case.’
He added that the party was still trying to talk to voters from ethnic minorities as though they had just arrived in this country:
‘The policies we have are very, very good policies, and they are right policies, but often we communicate with our ethnic minority voters as though they belong somewhere else. They need to recognise that we can’t communicate to our ethnic minority voters with the primary reference point being the countries that their fathers came from. My family and I do not want to be communicated to because our father came from India – talk to me because of the NHS and other things that we are interested in.’
He declined to comment on whether he had raised these concerns with CCHQ, but said that he was taking a different approach in his campaigning to that advocated by the national party. ‘My biggest difference between me and the rest of the party is I firmly believe in sharpening the axe before we start chopping down trees, trying to understand the communities that make up Dudley North.’