POLITICS
01/02/2015 16:23 GMT | Updated 01/02/2015 16:59 GMT

Conservative Party Has 'Perception Problem' Among Ethnic Minoirity Voters, Sajid Javid Says

The Conservative Party has a "perception problem" with ethnic minority voters that stops them voting Tory, the Culture Secretary has said.

Sajid Javid, who is the son of Pakistani immigrants, said his father was originally a Labour voter as it was the only party fighting for equal rights in the Sixties.

Javid said that has now "changed completely" but acknowledged that the Tories have a problem with how they are perceived by minority voters as they fight to win May's general election.

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He was grilled on the subject by Sunday Politics host Andrew Neil, who quoted a Lord Ashcroft poll that showed many people from ethnic minorities felt the Tories were "hostile" to them.

Javid's comments come just after party chairman Grant Shapps said immigrants were "natural Tories" because they "work hard and get on in life".

Javid, who is regarded as a potential future Tory leader, told BBC One's Sunday Politics show: "That is a problem. I think at the last election I think the Conservatives got about 16% of the (ethnic minority) vote.

"It's clearly not good enough and I think you have to look back at the reasons over a number of years and I think the biggest issue has been a perception problem for the Conservatives, it's not a policy problem.

"Over the past it's been a perception problem. My own parents were first generation immigrants.

sajid javid

Sajid Javid on Sunday Politics

"When my father arrived in Britain he started voting Labour because he felt at that time that was the only party in the Sixties that was standing up for working people, that was fighting for equal rights.

"Of course that has changed completely, the Conservatives are standing up for working people. Perceptions take time to change."

He added: "When I became an MP my father told me, after a months I was an MP, most of his friends would congratulate him on his son becoming an MP but they would automatically assume I was a Labour MP.

"That shows you big this problem. But I think perceptions are changing and there's more work to do."

He added: "When you have perceptions built over decades, it takes time to shift that."