This essay was written by upper-sixth former Omeet Atara, and shortlisted for the 2020 Independent Learning Assignment. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.
Estimated read time of abstract: 3 minutes
Estimated read time of essay: 90 minutes
In the last decade there have been radical changes in UK politics, with Brexit and Bojo becoming household names. However, behind the apparent shift towards the Conservative Party the role of the British Indian Community has been vastly understated. Since 2010, the British Indian vote has shifted rapidly towards the Conservative Party with over 30% of British Indians switching towards them. Hence, this psephology change has gone a long way to enabling the Conservative Parties success.
However, we must ask ourselves why this change as occurred? In my ILA, I argue that fundamentally, the shift has occurred due to changing policy within the Conservative Party, historical deterioration, and active political strategy. Using personal heritage, a range of literature and media and first-hand interviews with leading political figures such as Lord Popat, Lord M Desai and Chris Grayling MP I construct an overall picture of British Indian Voting Behaviour.
1.4 million British Indians are currently settled in Britain, and they all stem from historical immigration. Indians have to come to Britain since the 1700s and the formation of the East India Company. They began as sailors, however, then cooks and academics came over to supply the British with India cuisine. My ILA traces this heritage, through partition, immigration from Uganda and Kenya in the 1960s and 1970s then the Thatcher, Blair and Cameron years looking at immigration policy and how this affected the Indian diaspora. This combines with personal heritage, as my maternal grandfather travelled as an illegal immigrant in 1968, to escape the brutality of Jomo Kenyatta and then my father to escape Idi Amin in 1982. The hundreds of thousands of British Indians who have came to Britain in the period 1960-1990 are distinctly loyal to the political party which allowed them in country. I also explore how geographical location has affected generations to come, particularly South Indian workers coming to Britain in the 1940s, working in unionised jobs in the North.
However, there have been generation loyalty decline, with later generations being far less loyal to the party which originally “let them in.” This when policy from the Conservative Party has begun to appeal to the British Indian voters. From the surveys I conducted it was clear that, firstly British Indian voters are overwhelmingly voting on rationality, and often the rational policy which benefits them is from the Conservative Party. Economically, British Indians are on average the wealthiest race which often means they support the low tax policies. Culturally and Socially, they believe in harsh punishment and law and order, something which also aligns with the Conservative Party. In my ILA, I explore Cultural, Social, Education, Economic, Political and Foreign policies and the vast majority of British Indian interests align with Conservative Party Policy.
Finally, I explored the directives of both major political parties. Kashmir is a deeply contentious issue, and the Labour Party have moved away from the Indian Government stance of non-interference. This angered many British Indians; how felt they could not support the Labour Party. One the other hand, the Conservative party has represented British Indians at the top level of Government, with 4 Cabinet Ministers having Indian heritage. Alongside this, the formation of the Conservative Friends of India has also involved the Indian communities in Britain within the Conservative party.
I end my piece with my own political theory I developed based upon this research. Targeted Seat Theory is the idea that appealing to cultural politics within a seat is the most effective way to win seats. By using the majority interests and representing this on a local level you gain a significant vote proportion. This was seen in my case study, Harrow East.
Overall, my ILA combines Politics, Anthropology, Sociology, History, Geography and Economics to create the picture of a British Indian voter. From this, I begin to work out how parties in the modern era have appealed to voters and then develop a wider political theory. The change I explore has gone unnoticed behind the bluster of sensationalist politics for too long and has crucial role in determining who the Government is.
To view Omeet’s full article, follow this link below.