LONDON: As the United Kingdom draws close to the 2024 general election, a new YouGov poll sheds light on the voting intentions and priorities of ethnic minority groups, showing who ethnically Pakistani voters lean towards politically.

The poll indicates a strong preference for the Labour Party among ethnic minority voters, with 53pc intending to vote Labour, though Pakistani-origin voters show an interesting deviation from this trend. While Labour still garners substantial support, a significant portion of Pakistan-origin voters is leaning towards the Green Party, driven by specific issues such as the Gaza conflict.

According to YouGov, the increased support to the Green Party from the predominantly Muslim Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities seems to be a direct consequence of Keir Starmer’s stance on the Gaza conflict. Still four of 10 British Pakistanis will back Labour, though Starmer is uniquely unpopular among Pakistani and Bangladeshi Britons, with only 28pc having a favourable view of him.

Gaza a key concern

Around 51pc of ethnic minority voters backing the Greens say that Gaza is a top issue deciding their vote — substantially higher even than the environment (33pc). By contrast, only 8pc currently voting for Labour say Gaza is a top issue for them, suggesting that those for whom the issue is important have likely taken their vote elsewhere.

Among Pakistani and Bangladeshi Britons specifically, 41pc select ‘the situation in Gaza and Israel’ as one of the top issues in deciding how they will vote — making it the third largest issue for them — compared to 18pc for all ethnic minority Britons and just 5pc of the whole public.

YouGov survey captures voting intentions of ethnic minorities in UK

Support for the Conservatives remains relatively low among Pakistani-origin voters, consistent with the broader trend among ethnic minorities.

Only 14pc of ethnic minority voters overall intend to vote Conservative, and this figure is even lower among Pakistani-origin individuals, reflecting longstanding challenges in the party’s outreach to these communities.

According to the poll, 41pc of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Britons cite the Gaza conflict as a top issue influencing their vote. This issue has significantly damaged Labour’s standing with this community, with 78pc expressing dissatisfaction with Keir Starmer’s handling of the situation. Consequently, many have shifted their support to the Greens, who are perceived as more aligned with their views on Gaza.

Cost of living

Cost of living is another critical issue, with 64pc of ethnic minority voters overall listing it as a top concern. Pakistani-origin voters, like other minority groups, have been disproportionately affected by the economic crisis, making economic policies and promises pivotal in their voting decisions. Where Labour has been accused of weak, pro-Israel leadership on the Gaza crisis, the Greens have repeatedly called for scaling up actions against Israel, accusing the current UK government of complicity in killing Palestinians.

Starmer, despite being popular among ethnic minority Britons overall, is particularly unpopular among Pakistani-origin voters. Only 28pc view him favourably, compared to 47pc of all ethnic minority Britons. By contrast, figures like Jeremy Corbyn and George Galloway, known for their pro-Palestinian stances, enjoy higher favourability amongst British Pakistanis. This highlights how issues in Muslim-majority regions shape political opinions among Pakistani-origin voters.

Labour is generally trusted more than other parties to handle various policy areas, but their credibility on the Gaza issue is significantly lower among Pakistani-origin voters.

Only 11pc trust Labour to manage the Gaza conflict effectively, trailing behind the Greens. This distrust extends to perceptions of racism within the party, with 42pc of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Britons considering Labour to be racist, compared to lower percentages among other ethnic groups.

The cost of living tops the list of issues that ethnic minority Britons say will be important in deciding their vote in July, with 64pc choosing it. Most also choose the NHS (56pc), with the economy in a distant third on 36pc. As has already been noted, 18pc say that Gaza is a top issue in deciding their vote — meaning it ranks joint-fourth overall — and is a particularly important issue to Britons of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage (41pc).

Compared to the wider public, ethnic minority Britons are significantly more likely to say that the cost of living is a top issue along with Gaza. They are also slightly more likely to say the same of the economy and housing. The public in general are more likely to see immigration, climate change and defence among the top issues.

Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2024

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