Less than a week before polling day, the Green Party has introduced its ethnic minority manifesto in a bid to win last-minute favour with this growing segment of the population.
Deputy leader Shahrar Ali unveiled his party’s plans on Sunday afternoon in the heart of London’s biggest Bangladeshi community in Brick Lane, saying that the country “still has a long way to go” in racial equality.
Among the suggestions: making CVs anonymous; giving more funding to ethnic minority entrepreneurs and introducing more apprenticeships; reforming the police stop-and-search operations; transforming the asylum process and putting an end to a spousal income requirement.
Dr Shahrar said minorities are having to “disproportionately face the consequences of stop-and-search” by the police.
“Or that if you have an ethnic name, you’re seven times less likely to be called to an interview when you have the same level of attainment; and if you’re a minority woman, you have even worse chance of getting that interview,” he said.
Ethnic minorities will make up 20 per cent of Britain’s population by 2030, compared to just 8 per cent in 2001.
With the growing number of these voters, political parties have begun to tailor manifestos aimed at wooing them.
Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron promised more ethnic minority Tory MPs, jobs and university places. He went as far as saying that the first black or Asian prime minister will be a Conservative.
For the first time, Labour Party also introduced its mini manifesto aimed at blacks, Asians and ethnic minorities (BAME) which, among other things, pledged to increase the number of black and minority workers in top civil service jobs.
It also promised to make it mandatory for police to increase diversity in its force, and record instances of Islamophobic hate crime.
Ethnic minority voters have traditionally supported Labour. In Tower Hamlets, two Labour MPs represent its 254,000 residents, of which more than half are ethnic minorities and nearly half were born outside Britain.
The Liberal Democratic party also rolled out its plans with its first BAME since 2005, which included fighting discrimination with a single equality act.
Dr Shahrar said minorities are feeling vulnerable and marginalised with the growing anti-immigrant rhetoric and the government’s austerity measures.
In Tower Hamlets, the party is fielding Alistair Polson and Maureen Childs in Bethnal Green and Bow, and Poplar and Limehouse respectively.
“These are things we need to shout loud and clear about,” he said of protecting ethnic minorities.