THE BLOG
09/05/2014 08:28 BST | Updated 09/07/2014 06:59 BST

Non-White Voters May Hold The Key to The Next General Election

In an essay for Demos Quarterly this month, Trevor Philips and Richard Webber suggest that "upwardly mobile" black and Asian voters are deserting Labour. These black and Asian voters are more likely to vote Conservative at the next General Election, and they could decide the result.

When this news went live last week there was shock in some quarters. How could this be? People from black and Asian backgrounds always vote Labour don't they? People said this as if it was some kind of immutable truth, part of the static world order, never to be questioned or challenged.

However, to me and many other non-white Britons, it's no huge surprise. In fact, the shock is that no one realised that the Conservative Party is full of non-white Brits, with more joining every day.

Why is it such a surprise to some? Whatever our backgrounds, we all have our own opinions, goals and aspirations. Non-white Brits are still individuals after all. We all feel at home in one political party or other. There are no hard and fast rules. Lumping people together as a group, attributing a set of beliefs or actions to them on mass, has never ended well.

And the Conservatives' core values - like the importance of the family, business and hard work - naturally align themselves with the views of many non-white individuals, young and old. Many non-white Brits are traditionally small-c conservative. They run their own businesses, with almost one in 10 UK businesses owned or led by non-white people; they have larger, closer-knit families; they're more likely to go to Church every Sunday. They are part of the growing conservative family.

I accept that some might find the idea of some young non-white people deserting their parents' Labour roots and moving to the Conservatives slightly unsettling. And I accept that 40 or so years ago the Conservatives would not have been these voters' natural home. In those days, black and Asian Brits gave the Conservatives a kicking at the ballot box and rightly so. But that was then and this is now.

When I came to parliament, I was one of two non-white Conservative MPs with Shailesh Vara. I'm now joined by lots of non-white Conservative colleagues in the Commons and the Lords. Sajid Javid, a good friend, was recently appointed a Secretary of State; the first Tory Asian man to join the cabinet. There's a generational lag, yes, but the progress is there for all to see.

Over the next decade, I believe lots of hard working, upwardly mobile non-white voters will find their natural home with the Conservatives. And I think that will happen naturally and organically - without the party applying pressure from Westminster. That's because traditional Conservative core values have a universal appeal - whatever your background, heritage or upbringing. These are values that have held us in good stead for over 300 years in spite of the wider changes that have taken place in society.

But now that this trend is underway, the Conservatives must be careful of not 'jumping on some bandwagon', picking policies just because we think they will appeal to non-white voters. First, this won't work because voters aren't stupid; they know when politicians are playing games - trying to pick up votes - and not only does this look silly, it's demeaning for the political party and individuals involved. Secondly, writing policies that pick out groups of people for special treatment, like quotas, are patronising: they treat people as helpless and hapless. History has shown that this type of groupism is dangerous.

I'm pleased that black and Asian voters want to back the Conservatives. I did when I was young and I don't regret it. When I joined I knew that the Conservative Party didn't care whether I was 1st, 3rd or 300th generation British. They didn't care whether I was black, white, Asian, mixed heritage, male, female, young or old, straight or gay. The Conservative Party is for everyone and this new Demos essay proves that it's not just me that knows it.