“2012 Schuneman Symposium” by scrippsjschool (Flickr – CC BY-NC 2.0)
The Reverend Jesse Jackson (pictured above) came to town last week to support Operation Black Vote’s (OBV) voter registration campaign. The veteran civil rights activist was a protégé of Martin Luther King Jr and is more than qualified to comment on how the politics of the United States and the condition of being African in that country has changed over the 50 years since King’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech.
The OBV voter registration and voter conscientisation campaign was clearly boosted by the results of research it conducted in 2012 on the electoral power of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) voters. Under a banner headline: ‘Black vote can decide 2015 general election’, OBV states on their website:
The research reveals 168 constituencies in both urban and suburban areas, demonstrating that the BME electorate have never been more powerful. With more marginal seats and more BME voters right across the geographical map, power is shifting. Political parties must wake up and realise that without the BME vote they could lose – and therefore devise policies to tackle persistent race inequalities.
Using the 2011 census, researchers looked at the BME electorate in all 573 of the seats in England and Wales and found 168 marginal seats where BME voters outnumber the majority held by the sitting MP. This equates to one quarter of seats nationally and nearly 40% of seats in London (…)
Some examples of the geographic spread of where power can be seen and the effect on the political parties:
1. Ilford North: Conservatives have a majority of 5,404 and a BME electorate of 35,051
2. Cardiff Central: Liberal Democrats have a majority of 4,570 and a BME electorate of 12,445
3. Bristol East: Labour have a majority of 3,772 and a BME electorate of 11,420
4. Norwich South: Liberal Democrats have a majority of 310 votes and a BME electorate of 7,066
5. Southampton Itchen: Labour have a majority of 192 votes and a BME electorate of 6,915
6. North Warwickshire: Conservative majority of 54 votes and a BME electorate of 3,381
What I find intriguing about these statistics is that this research does not appear to entertain the possibility that the BME electorate in each of the constituencies mentioned may already have contributed to the majority, however small, of the respective political parties. In any event, the report of the research does not explain why we should not assume that this was so, unless we are being asked to believe that the entire BME electorate was nowhere to be seen during the last and every other General Election. Read the rest of this entry →