More Indians turned against Labour, says 2019 UK poll review

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COURTESY BY: https://www.hindustantimes.com/

An internal review of the election debacle suffered by Labour in the December 2019 election suggests that more members of the 1.5 million-strong Indian community in the UK voted against it, reinforcing pro-Conservative trends in recent elections.

The review into Labour’s worst election result since 1935 blames several factors for the defeat, including lack of clarity on its Brexit position, a ‘toxic culture’ of conflict within the party, and negative perceptions of the former leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Once a natural party of preference of the Indian community due to its largely pro-immigration policies, Labour has been haemorrhaging support since the early 2000s to the Conservatives, particularly from the young, aspirational second and third generations.

The review says that Labour retained a ‘strong advantage’ among Black and Minority Ethnic voters, winning 64 per cent of BME voters against the Conservatives’ 20 per cent, adding that it retained a comparatively high proportion (over 80 per cent) of Labour 2017 election voters identifying as Arab, white and black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani, compared to 73 per cent of voters identifying as White British.

On Indian community voters, it says: “Retention rates among voters who identified as Indian were even lower, however, at 68 per cent – likely reflecting the growing support for the Conservatives among voters identifying as Hindu”.

“Hindu voters who had supported Labour in 2017 were 42 per cent likely to withdraw their support in 2019 – compared to Muslim voters who were 80 per cent likely to stick with Labour”, it adds.

The 2019 election was clouded by resentment in the Indian community about the party’s stand on Jammu and Kashmir and claims that some of its MPs and members joined or supported large demonstrations outside India House that turned violent on August 15 and September 3.

The developments not only angered large sections of the community, but also led to a diplomatic row with New Delhi, which rejected a resolution on Jammu and Kashmir adopted at the party’s annual conference before the election.

The review says: “Labour has a mountain to climb to get back into power in the next five years. This report lays out in stark detail the scale of that task. Unless as a party and a movement we face up to that we will not win”.

“In the words of our candidates and activists, the strategy was inadequate, the organisation was muddled and the execution was poor….It would be a mistake to believe that a different leader, with Brexit no longer the defining issue, would in itself be sufficient to change Labour’s electoral fortunes”.

Ed Miliband, former party leader, was one of the key party MPs involved in the review.

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