The key questions• Are there any special political concerns shared by minorities and differing from those of the White British majority?• Are these ethnic political concerns integrated into or excluded from the mainstream political agenda?
Performance and position issuesPolitical scientists often make a distinction between ‘performance’ issues and ‘position’ issues• Performance issues are ones where there is agreement on the goals, eg recovering from the recession, but disagreement about how to/who is best to achieve it• Position issues are ones where there is disagreement about what the goals should be, eg privatization vs nationalization
Agreement on performance issues• Generally agreed that minorities attach similar priorities to performance issues as do the majority, eg concerns about dealing with the financial situation• But controversy whether minorities have distinct ‘ethnic’ concerns in addition• And controversy whether minorities actually agree on ‘ethnic’ concerns• If there are distinct ethnic concerns, and if these are NOT reflected in the mainstream political agenda, then important issue of political exclusion arises
The mainstream agendaAs far as you’re concerned, what is the single most important issue facing the country ? White British Ethnic minorities• State of economy 39 31• Financial crisis 23 17• Immigration 11 5• Unemployment 6 20• War in Afghanistan 4 1• Law and order 2 4
Diversity between minorities Support asylum Oppose Afghan warIndian 34 46White British 39 64Pakistani 41 68Bangladeshi 43 59Black Caribbean 59 56Black African 74 51
Two sorts of ethnic claims• Claims for equal opportunities (redress of discrimination and exclusion) – potentially unite all minorities• Claims for protection of cultural practices – potentially different claims by different minorities
Government should make every effort to improve opportunities for BMEs vs No need for government to take action to improve opportunities for BMEs % wanting improved opportunities White British 19 Indian 65 Pakistani 71 Bangladeshi 70 Black Caribbean 74 Black African 75A shared minority concern. Pattern replicated with other questions on possible policies, eg affirmative action
Should schools allow those for whom it is important to wear traditional dress at school? % agreeing Indian 40 Pakistani 73 Bangladeshi 68 Black Caribbean 39 Black African 38Even Sikhs were not especially supportive of this proposition, possibly because they have already won this battle
Are these issues addressed by the mainstream parties?“By promoting equality and tacklingdiscrimination, our policies, like recognising civilpartnerships as well as marriage in the tax systemand helping disabled people live independently,will give everybody the chance to play their part.This way, we can make Britain fairer and safer; acountry where opportunity is more equal” (p 35).But no explicit mention of race or ethnicity, or any specificproposals, anywhere in this manifesto.
Well at least this one did mention race “New legislation and the Equality and Human Rights Commission will ensure that people are not held back at work because of their gender, age, disability, race and religious or sexual orientation. The new Equality Act will be enforced, promoting fairness across our society. The public duty to promote equality of opportunity is being extended. We will encourage employers to make greater use of pay reviews and equality checks to eliminate unfair pay gaps, including inequalities in pay between men and women” (2:4). But no new proposals
And this one had a clear new policy [We] want to build a society where everyone has the opportunity to get on in life. Most businesses do a great job of supporting their employees, but there is more to do to tackle discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexuality, age, race, religion or disability. We want to give employees fair opportunities to make the best use of their talents, and greater control over their working lives and conditions. Women are still paid less than men. It can be hard to juggle work and family life. People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities are still more likely to suffer discrimination. And there are far too many barriers to work for people with disabilities.• We will change this by: Requiring name-blind job application forms to reduce sex and race discrimination in employment, initially for every company with over 100 employees (p 30)
And where would you place the Conservative/Labour/Liberal Democrat parties on this scale [on improving opportunities for Black people and Asians] % placing the party ‘left’ of centre on equal opportunities for BMEs Labour LDs ConservativesEthnic minorities 60 40 35White British 46 32 19Both the majority and the minorities see Labour as much more inclined to improve minority opportunities than either of the other parties.But white British are more sceptical about all three parties’ intentions.
ConclusionThere is a shared ethnic minority concern with securing equal opportunities and overcoming prejudice and discriminationBut there is great diversity on other issues such as the war in Afghanistan, asylum seekers, and cultural concernsAll the parties’ manifestos promised to reduce discrimination, but only the LDs mentioned any specific new proposalsBut minorities themselves did not see the LDs as particularly supportive and gave much more credence to Labour (probably reflecting Labour’s record rather than its current promises)