Ethnic minorities voting behaviour political engagement and national identity
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Ethnic Minorities ’ voting behaviour, political engagement and national identity. Anthony Heath Universities of Manchester and Oxford. Aims of the talk. To share new findings from the Ethnic Minority British Election Survey (EMBES)

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Ethnic Minorities ’ voting behaviour, political engagement and national identity

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Ethnic minorities voting behaviour political engagement and national identity

Ethnic Minorities’ voting behaviour, political engagement and national identity

Anthony Heath

Universities of Manchester and Oxford


Aims of the talk

Aims of the talk

  • To share new findings from the Ethnic Minority British Election Survey (EMBES)

  • To report on the political integration of the main minorities – people of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African and Caribbean heritage

  • To explore differences between 1st and 2nd generations

  • To explore implications for question ‘Has multiculturalism failed?’


Some theoretical issues exclusion or choice

Some theoretical issues – exclusion or choice ?

  • A great deal of evidence that minorities are discriminated against in the labour market. Does economic discrimination lead to political alienation of minorities?

  • Is there a parallel exclusion of minorities from the political process – eg in terms of MPs or representation of minority interests?

  • Do minorities choose not to participate, eg because less committed to democracy and/or British society?

  • Or are minorities as committed to democratic norms and values as the majority?


Generational differences

Generational differences

  • My work on the labour market has focussed on the second generation – key test of whether minorities are able to compete on a level playing field

  • Similar concerns may be relevant in politics – first generation may lack English skills, may lack knowledge of British politics, were not socialized into British democratic values


Embes

EMBES

  • Nationally-representative probability sample of main established ethnic minorities

  • Over-sample in areas of high ethnic minority density

  • Harmonized with main British Election Survey (which we use to examine attitudes and behaviour of the White British majority group)

  • Very good response rate (60%) but always risk that most alienated will not participate in the survey


Sample characteristics

Sample characteristics

EMBES BES

White British 0 3126

Other white 0 57

Mixed 113 32

Indian 587 52

Pakistani 668 17

Bangladeshi 270 8

Black Caribbean 598 31

Black African 525 38

Other 26 59


The concept of ethnicity

The concept of ethnicity

  • Official categories will not reflect actual ethnic identities – major ethnic differences within all these five groups (eg Punjabis, Baluchis, Azad Kashmiris among the people from Pakistan)

  • Also important differences between religious groups – especially Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Christian differences among Indians

  • More detailed analysis needed


Topics to be covered

Topics to be covered

  • Registration

  • Turnout

  • Party choice

  • Satisfaction with British democracy

  • Feelings of unfair treatment

  • Ethnic and British identity


Registration

Registration

  • All British citizens, and Commonwealth citizens but not EU citizens, are eligible to vote in general elections

  • But some who eligible still may not register – not interested in British politics, undocumented, don’t know they are eligible, worried about authorities


Registration1

Registration

1ST GEN2ND GEN

White British - 97

Indian 90 97

Pakistani 91 96

Bangladeshi 95 92

Black Caribbean 95 92

Black African 79 85


Reasons for not being registered

Reasons for not being registered

  • 1st generation respondents told us that major factor in lack of registration was ineligibility (esp the Black Africans) but also lack of knowledge about how to register

  • NB less than half the 1st generation said that they spoke English very well compared with 90% of 2nd generation

  • Among 2nd generation Black Caribbeans lack of interest was often mentioned


Turnout

Turnout

  • Might expect that people who have actually registered would turn out to vote

  • But we know that, among White British, many do not vote due to lack of interest, feeling that none of the parties really represents them, lack of sense of civic duty.

  • Expect turnout to be lower among first generation, especially those coming from non-democratic countries


Self reported turnout among registered voters

Self-reported turnout among registered voters

1st gen2nd gen

White British - 79

Indian 73 81

Pakistani 76 73

Bangladeshi 81 77

Black Caribbean 71 69

Black African 62 62


Reasons for not voting

Reasons for not voting

  • Little sign of any generational difference, but a clear tendency for the Black groups to have lower turnout.

  • Can only partly be explained by standard resource theories.

  • Around 50% of 2nd generation Black African and Black Caribbean respondents felt that no party really represented their views


Vote in 2010

Vote in 2010

LabCons LD Other

White British 29 40 25 7

Indian 61 25 13 1

Pakistani 59 11 25 5

Bangladeshi 71 17 9 3

Black Caribbean 78 9 11 1

Black African 85 6 7 2


Continuities with previous research

Continuities with previous research

  • Continuation of previous pattern for minorities to show much greater level of support for Labour, though minorities swung away from Labour much as the majority did

  • But also some big differences between minorities

  • Indians are the ones most likely to support Conservatives, and middle-class Indians have even higher Conservative vote

  • Note that ethnicity does not ‘trump’ class – though ethnicity is a much stronger basis of vote than class is today


Voting labour

% voting Labour

1st gen2nd gen

White British - 29

Indian 60 60

Pakistani 64 56

Bangladeshi 73 65

Black Caribbean 87 71

Black African 87 76


Possible implications

Possible implications

  • Interesting pattern for Labour support to decline across the generations – disillusionment or gradual convergence towards the majority pattern?

  • Labour should not assume that it can take minority support for granted

  • Also note that minorities now provide a larger share of the Labour vote than they have ever done before


Mixed picture so far

Mixed picture so far

  • Generally minorities seem to be politically integrated – registering to vote, turning out, and supporting mainstream parties

  • Differences between minorities are relatively small, though Black groups seem somewhat less integrated

  • 2nd generation Black Caribbeans particularly disillusioned – perhaps with good cause


Very or fairly satisfied with way democracy works in britain

% very or fairly satisfied with way democracy works in Britain

1st gen2nd gen

White British - 52

Indian 78 59

Pakistani 80 60

Bangladeshi 82 57

Black Caribbean 56 41

Black African 75 56


Immigrant optimism

Immigrant optimism?

  • 1st generation enthusiastic about British democracy

  • Declining satisfaction in the 2nd generation – though higher satisfaction than the majority group

  • Black Caribbeans stand out though as less satisfied


Ethnic or british identity

Ethnic or British identity?

“some people think of themselves first as British. Others think of themselves first as Scottish. Which best describes how you think of yourself?

Scottish not British

More Scottish than British

Equally Scottish and British

More British than Scottish

British not Scottish


Feeling more scottish black asian than british

% feeling more Scottish/Black/Asian than British

1st gen2nd gen

Scottish residents - 60

Indian 35 14

Pakistani 28 14

Bangladeshi 34 19

Black Caribbean 44 33

Black African 53 41


Discrimination and exclusion

Discrimination and exclusion

  • Previous research has suggested that experience of discrimination undermines a sense of belonging to Britain

  • My report for Lord Goldsmith’s review of citizenship emphasized that there was no crisis of British identity among minorities in general, but that young Black Caribbeans felt alienated because of discrimination


Agreeing government treats people like me my ethnic group fairly

% agreeing government treats people like me/my ethnic group fairly

1st gen2nd gen

White British 33

Indian 70 59

Pakistani 69 50

Bangladeshi 67 57

Black Caribbean 33 24

Black African 48 31


Has multiculturalism failed

Has multiculturalism failed?

  • Possibly – though not for the reasons Angela Merkel thinks

  • First generation show ‘immigrant optimism’ and positive orientations despite lack of fluency in English

  • Second generation show convergence to majority patterns – less positive though also feeling more ‘British’ and much better at English.

  • But Blacks, especially Black Caribbeans, show signs of disaffection – almost certainly arising from feelings of unfair treatment

  • Feelings of unfairness greater in the 2nd generation – perhaps because of changed frame of reference


Exclusion or choice

Exclusion or choice?

  • The key issue then does not seem to be that minorities don’t want to be involved in British democracy

  • The key issue is that Black Caribbeans do not feel that they are fairly treated – with risks of alienation and disaffection

  • Unequal treatment is the problem not unequal willingness to integrate politically


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