The Census Analysis undertaken by the University of Manchester shows that the number of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) voters is on the increase. In 2011, one-in-five people (20%) identified with an ethnic group other than White British compared with only 13% in 2001. As the BME population has almost doubled, critically many of Britain’s cities have become increasingly plural. There is little doubt that in the upcoming elections, cities such as Leicester, Birmingham and Manchester – expected to have non-White majority populations in the next decade – will hold the political balance of power. The University of Manchester calculates that 8 boroughs in London and five cities in the Midlands and North – Oldham, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham and Leicester – are likely to decide the electoral outcome in 2015.The young age profile of BME communities, especially British Muslims, also means there are a growing number of first time voters emerging from these minority groups.
The concentration of BME communities in some constituencies and electoral districts makes the community an important consideration for all political parties hoping to attract their patronage and support. Below are a number of pledges which candidates hoping to reach out to BME voters, including young voters, would be prudent to consider:
Human rights, security and counter-terrorism
1. To maintain the UK’s commitment to the Human Rights Act and the European Court of Human Rights as an essential defence against violations of the civil and political rights of citizens in Member States.
2. To ensure that necessary work in the area of security and counter-terrorism does not violate the civil and political rights of communities in Member States and that all necessary legal instruments comply with requirements of non-discrimination and proportionality (e.g. stop and search policies across the EU).
3. Uphold the right of citizens to freedom of religion, as protected under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, including in the provision of food (halal slaughter); in dress (hijab and niqab); and in religious observance (places of worship and circumcision) along with a commitment to upholding the ‘reasonable accommodation’ of religion in public life.
Tackling the far-right and Islamophobia
4. To resist the xenophobic, anti-minority sentiments espoused by far right parties and to uphold the EU’s fundamental values on respect for minorities, freedom of religion and protection against discrimination on grounds of race and religion, and other forms of intolerance. Moreover, to promote inter-agency and transnational co-operation in challenging far right ideological movements and their targeting of Muslim communities across the EU.
5. To support, promote and uphold the work of the Fundamental Rights Agency in all areas including:
- Challenging Islamophobia
- Protection of citizens from discrimination based on religion or belief
- Tackling incitement to hatred and hate speech directed at groups defined by religion or belief
- Better recording of anti-Muslim hate crime
- Advance equality and integration policies to ensure all groups in society are granted equality of opportunity
- Tackling anti-Muslim hate speech, especially on social media
Use the comments section below to tell us about other questions that should be asked of candidates standing in the European Parliament elections.
Credits: Ideas for pledges have been inspired by iEngage through their EU Manifesto which can be accessed here.