Coffee House

Why the Tory leadership thinks it can push gay marriage and boost its support among ethnic minority voters

20 January 2013

4:39 PM

20 January 2013

4:39 PM

If the Tory party doesn’t improve its performance with ethnic minority voters, it’ll be nigh-on-impossible for it to win a general election in a generation’s time. The single biggest driver of not voting Tory is not being white and more than one in four under fives in Britain are non-white.

This is the background to the Tories’ big push to increase their support among ethnic minority voters and David Cameron’s decision to devote Wednesday’s political Cabinet to the subject. Now, I’m always wary of parties talking about appealing to specific groups rather than individuals. But there is something complex going on here in that even those ethnic minority voters who tend to place themselves in the same place on the political spectrum as the Tories tend not to vote for the party.

As I say in the Mail on Sunday, Cameron is resolved on a big outreach effort. He’s going to hold Cameron Direct events in Hindu temples, Sikh Gudwaras, Mosques and evangelical churches this year and has asked all the Tory members of the Cabinet to do the same.


There’s a lot of chatter in Tory circles that if Cameron is really serious about winning over these ethnic minority voters, then he shouldn’t be pushing gay marriage. The argument goes that they tend to be more socially conservative and thus unimpressed by Cameron’s emphasis on the issue.

But I understand that Tory strategists have seen a poll with a 28,000 sample which shows that ethnic minority attitudes to gay marriage are more complex than this. In the polls, a majority of three groups oppose gay marriage: over 65s, Muslims and blacks. However, Hindus, Sikhs and those of mixed race are more in favour of gay marriage than the population as a whole.

This has reassured them as the Tories believe that Hindus and Sikhs are the two ethnic minority groups with whom they have most chance of making progress before 2015. Indeed, British Indians—on average—place themselves in the same place on the political spectrum as they do the Tories. I understand that appealing to them will be a major feature of Cameron’s coming trip to India, his second since becoming Prime Minister.

At the next election, the Tories intend to try and use the new Conservative Friends of India group to help it campaign in various target seats which have a large Indian population such as Harrow West. The success, or otherwise, of this strategy will be key to the party’s electoral performance.

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Show comments
  • Druth

    Government by focus groups. Exactly what we need.

  • Adrian
  • paulus

    God only knows what lengths he is going to go to fit in, dont bother priniting any photos when he tips up to the trangender association, at least we will have a new woman in the cabinet.

  • stucathome62

    Over 65s, Muslims and blacks?

    The first is a distinct group by age, certainly, but do you mean over 65, white indigenous? Muslims and black people age as well.

    Muslims? Shia? Sufi? Sunni? Do you exclude Muslims above the age of 64?

    Blacks? How on earth do you define “blacks” as a distinct group except by their melanin levels? Or are you so ignorant as to presume that skin colour defines one’s belief system?

    “Those of mixed race” So you infer that someone living in Berwick on Tweed having a child with someone 65 miles north will have a child who finds gay marriage acceptable, but if the other half comes from 345 miles south, that child will be more likely to oppose it?

    From statistics wrapped up in generalisations to party policy?
    Camerloon strikes again!

  • paulus

    Whats that idiot doing draped in a bath mat, grinning away, surrounded by people straight out of the jungle book, I dont know any asians who dress like that. In fact you can go to india and you wouldnt see people dressed like that.

    It appears the camerloons strategy is so subtle and nuanced they appear to not have one, we will tout gay marriage to appeal to socially conservative ethnic minorities!!!

    • the viceroy’s gin

      I think that photograph resulted from a bet made down at the temple.

      “Oh go on! There’s no way! Not even that stupid politico is dumb enough to pose for this!”

      “In front of a Star Wars menagerie? Oh go on!”

      “And with a fork-bearded guy dressed up in a moo-moo?”

      “Oh go on!”

  • anyfool

    Mr Forsyth you say, the single biggest driver of not voting Tory is not being white.
    No the single biggest driver of ethnics is benefits and the perception that the Tories want to cut them.
    By and large most ethnics are conservative with a capital C, if there was no benefit system hardly any ethnics of any colour nowadays would ever vote for a socialist party of any hue.

  • anyfool

    Mr Forsyth you say, the single biggest driver of not voting Tory is not being white.
    No the single biggest driver of ethnics is benefits and the perception that the Tories want to cut them.
    By and large most ethnics are conservative with a capital C, if there was no benefit system no one of any colour nowadays would ever vote for a socialist party of any hue.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    Mr Cameron is guilty of taking the white, conservative voter for granted. And there are far more of us than there are the ethnic minority votes he is chasing.

    We remember what the UK used to be like before the EU took over its governance. And we want the power to govern our own country returned.

    “more than one in four under fives in Britain are non-white.” Blair certainly succeeded in his drive to change the face of Britain and rub the Rights face in diversity. It’s the only thing he did that was successful. The b+stard should be tried for treason for betraying the British people so comprehensively.

  • DrCoxon

    Mr Cameron should not overlook Icelandic stamp-collectors resident in the UK.

  • mcclane

    It’s not a Tory thing, it’s not a Hindu/Sikh/mixed race thing. It’s the EU (again). We need to harmonise.

    “the most notable difference is the right of same-sex couples to get married. As of today, the following EU countries grant this right: Belgium, Denmark, the
    Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.”

    Poor old Emma & Carine’s marriage is not recognised across the EU.

    “Emma, a Belgian national, married Carine, a French national, in Belgium. When Emma had to move to Germany for work, Carine followed her – but they were not regarded as married by the authorities, since same-sex marriage is illegal in Germany.

    However, because registered partnerships between same-sex couples are allowed in Germany, Emma and Carine were granted the same rights as couples with registered partnerships. No specific procedure was necessary for this.”

    On a different issue, government by focus groups smacks to me of short-termism and lack of principle at government level.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    But I understand that Tory strategists have seen a poll with a 28,000
    sample which shows that ethnic minority attitudes to gay marriage are
    more complex than this.


    So this is the balderdash the Cameroons are spinning out now? Some phony nonsense ginned up and passed on 4th hand, by the Speccie lickspittle?


    If you believe the Sikhs and Hindus are in favor of gay marriage, I have some swampland for sale for you… cheap.

    Tell the grifters in Cameroon HQ to get stuffed. They are lying grifters, and their lies are now coming out stench-ridden at the first cut. And apparently, the Cameroons are no longer even concerned that we notice the stench.

    • ButcombeMan

      You are spot on and the very idea of redefining marriage is even more offensive to Moslems.

      It looks as if Tory strategists have planted a story here and the good old Speccie has fallen for it.

  • Faceless Bureaucrat

    Dave should have forced through the boundary changes by any means available to him. That is the real problem for the Conservatives come the next General Election…

    • Fergus Pickering

      Which means oh great one? Tell us what he should have done to persuade Libdams and Labour to back him on this?

  • Justathought

    “If the Tory party doesn’t improve its performance with …Tory
    voters, it’ll be nigh-on-impossible for it to win a general election in a
    generation’s time

  • Curnonsky

    Surely Hindus and Sikhs will be suspicious of a politician who says, in essence, “we don’t respect out own religious or cultural traditions but of course we DO respect yours!”.

  • FrankS

    “More than one in four under-fives in Britain is non-white.”
    Am I the only one here to find this statistic alarming (though not surprising)? And does that make me a racist?

  • FrankS

    It’ll be nigh on impossible for the Tories to win a general election in 2015, never mind a generation, if they don’t mend their ways pdq!

  • judyk113

    What makes a poll dependable is more the questions than the sample size. I’m very sceptical about large scale Hindu & Sikh support for gay marriage, and would want to know much more about who commissioned the poll and what questions were posed and not posed.

    I have not yet seen any poll which asks Tory voters whether they will be less likely to turn out to vote Tory at the next election if the gay marriage proposals become law. There seems to me to be far too little concern about Tory voter turnout, which could lose more seats than defections to UKIP.

    • Daniel Maris

      It’s well known that you can get the answer you want with the right series of questions preceding the target questions e.g. “Do you think everyone should be treated fairly?” “Is the right for someone to get married part of being treated freely?” “Do you agree that the ability to marry the person of your choosing is part of a fair society and a basic human right? ” “Do you agree human rights should be applied fairly across the board? ” “Do you agree that as a human right, gay marriage should be permitted? “

      • kyalami

        Ah! Sir Humphrey!

  • ScaryBiscuits

    Is it 40 MPs we need to force a leadership contest? A few more articles like this can only help.

  • Tom Tom

    I think Cameron’s New Party is well-represented by James Forsyth. There is no doubt he can do better on his own record than on Gordon Browns. Brown was a tactical genius who outflanked Cameron in 2010 but Cameron has his own record to sway voters in 2014 and the prospect of Gay Marriage being the key to economic revival is now recognised. When Japan and China go to war Gay Marriage will ensure British economic supremacy. Elton John has shown how flower sales boom – £300,000 in a year and how consumer spending among gay couples at £1.5 million a month in his case can revive the economy. Cameron has seen how vital gay marriage is to boosting consumer spending

  • tomdaylight

    Given Cameron is going to push gay marriage through no matter what happens, he ought to make the strongest possible case for it with these groups. Explain to them that he is imposing their moral values on a section of society that has been shunned by religion and for the most part has mutually shunned religion itself. Explain that it is about bringing people together where Labour has sought to split and divide them into targetable groups that they play against one another for their own political gain. And he will have to deal with this topic as it is going to be asked at all of these temples, mosques and evangelical churches – probably as the first question that isn’t the local Labour party’s planted one about ‘all these terrible cuts you’re forcing on us’.

  • Troika21

    If the Tories are meaning to target Sikhs and Hindus then they are quite likely to be second and third generation British citizens not new immigrants. They will be part of the home-owning class, and religion is unlikely to be a major part of their lives.

    Yet the leadership seems to think that the only thing that will matter to these groups will be their religion.

    I agree with James when he says “I’m wary of parties talking about appealing to specific groups rather than individuals“. If they are not careful, the Tories could end up making themselves look very foolish, I think.

    • Tom Tom

      It is a dangerous path that may cause real friction with New Delhi and Islamabad

    • Vulture

      ‘If they are not careful the Tories could end up making themselves look very foolish…’

      Well, since Cameron was elected leader they have had plenty of practice.

    • judyk113

      Religion unlikely to be a major part of their lives? The proportion of Sikhs and Hindus intermarrying with other ethnic groups remains small. The school friendship groups of most even 2nd & 3rd generation Sikhs & Hindus are likely to be predominantly within their own group. My daughter was at a very prestigious independent school which had very large numbers of Hindus. They formed friendship groups known in the school as “the Indian crew”. Jewish schoolchildren tend also to form friendship groups amongst themselves — if they are in non-faith schools, which a majority are not. Jewish parents of the 5th & 6th generation in the UK are choosing to found and send their children to Jewish faith schools in much higher proportions than in my generation. Up to 70+% of the relevant age groups in London. In parallel, faith schools are increasingly sought out by ethnic English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish parents even where they do not choose to attend church. School religious observance is an increasingly significant part of the expression of religious commitment in the UK today.

  • barbie

    So Labours immigration policy might work, in a few years time, for them at least. Not however, until UKIP step up to the mark. The Conservatives are shooting themselves in the foot, again. Many indigenous Brits didn’t like the gay arguement and feel we have far more important things to discuss than gays. They have been given far to much prominance. OK, many of us tolerate them, so we should, but don’t let us have to kneel before them.
    I think the Conservatives have no idea what this country wants, We’ve told them often enough, but again, they do as they wish and not what the nation wants. That will be their downfall. We don’t want the EU as it is. We want freedomm to choose our own destiny. Yet, Labour’s Miliband, and Cameron insist they are the ones to choose our destiny, not us. Who gave them this power, we certainly didn’t. I’m surprised we have tolerated this from anyone, let alone Conservative who have always been the protector of these shores through our history. It now appears they have given up this role and left this nation to the EU, which is a betrayal to us all. Unforgiveable.

    • wrinkledweasel

      The appeal of UKIP is simple; they are putting Europe on the menu. I find it terrifying that Labour, Conservative and that loony fringe party, the Liberal Democrats, simply will not listen to the will of the people.

      It is sinister. There is no other word for it. As for freedom to chose our own destiny, that was sabotaged by the last Labour government who changed the face of our country irrevocably.

      The gay issue is the kind of red herring that would make a herring blush. It does not matter. It does not matter. All it means to Cameron is part of his de-tox strategy and frankly it wont work. Real Tories have never cared what people get up to in private as long as it doesn’t frighten the horses, and I for one, as right as Professor Rightie at Ghengis Khan University, wish all gays and lesbians a happy and long-lasting partnership, whatever they want to call it. It will not affect one jot the terrible effects of our continued political partnership with the European Community or the corrosive and inevitable erosion of our indigenous culture.

      • vieuxceps2

        Yes,but they get a disproportionate share of attention.Don’t know why. But we should be aware of this.

  • Daniel Maris

    The one sure thing you will find if you go chasing the ethnic minority vote is that you have to relax your immigration policy because that is always a natural concern for immigrant communities.

    If you want to get the Hindu and Sikh vote – make clear you will bring in a law to prevent the advance of Sharia. That will get you plenty of Hindu and Sikh votes.

    • Tom Tom

      No can do because it is already integrated into the Mediation Process favoured by Courts

  • Sally Chatterjee

    Diving the electorate into target groups is the sign of a politician worried about votes rather than a statesman trying to lead on moral issues.

    • ScaryBiscuits

      It’s also what the Labour party does best. Conservative should stick to their strengths: principles like individual freedom, responsibility and spending less than you earn – reaching out to ethnic minorities not on the basis or their colour or creed but because they share your aspirations. Dave is incapable of this which is why he’s unfit to lead the party or the country.

    • LEngland

      A truth elegantly expressed.

    • Tom Tom

      It is exactly what Enoch Powell feared, the importation of Indian Communal Politics into the UK and the British playing the sides against each other as under the Raj

    • Common Purpose

      Sally you have nailed the problem. Leadership. We also need leaders who can see across the whole organization and make the sum of the parts greater than the whole. We need leaders who understand the value of networks which extend far beyond the traditional confines – and, more importantly, know how to lead them. The opportunities (and threats) ahead will not come neatly parceled to fit the culture into which we have arranged ourselves. They will cross boundaries and come through walls – and our leaders need to be able to do this too. In short we need leadership capable of leading beyond authority

      • foxoles

        Leading beyond authority = exceeding your legal remit.

  • Daniel Maris

    It’s funny isn’t it…if anyone else looked at the world in this way, with race-specs on, they would be condemned as a racist by the metelite of the Spectator editorial board. I think this sort of politics is beneath contempt.

  • Noa

    He could try appealing to the still 80% plus indigenous white British community.

    But, having called us racists, bigots and pretty odd people it’s probably too late for that.

    • dtnorth

      UKIP for you.

      • dtnorth

        A proven party of racists and bigots. I’m sure you will be happy to cuddle in with these types.

        • Noa

          You seem a tolerant open-minded sort, in fact the very model of a modern major liberal!

        • barbie

          Well I’m voting UKIP and I’m not racist or a bigot, just an ordinary woman who’s fed up with the present lot. I want to decide my own destiny and where and what we get, not be dicated to by EU unelected boffins. Is this what you want, or freedom to choose?

          • dtnorth

            UKIP is paid for by the EU. Idiot.

            • LEngland

              It would appear you are needful of acquiring the skill of presenting your point of view without also setting out to insult those you hope to convert.

          • LEngland

            ‘ – not A raci(al)its – ‘, please. Kindly do not promote the enemy’s unattractive agendum by using, no, aping his manufactured idiot illiteralisms designed to mask the truth about issues over which he excercises his OCD; viz. race, disability etc. 2001131824SpmarriageForsyth

        • williamblakesghost

          And which bunch of proven mindless bigots do you belong to, to smear people who you have no knowledge of?

        • MirthaTidville

          Sounds like your concerned by their success to me

        • Colonel Mustard

          How so “proven”? I’m not aware of a court case. Or are your referring to trial by Twitter mob which seems to be gaining in popularity amongst the moronic classes?

          • eeore

            MEP’s get £900,000 a year, UKIP has about a dozen of them… so that £11million.

            According to this website… … UKIP received £325,000 in donations.

            • Colonel Mustard

              I had no idea that salary and donations proved racism. 😉

        • Noa
        • Tom Tom

          Devalue the terms – they are meaningless insults anyway

    • Fergus Pickering

      I’m indigenous white, tory and also old, but I don’t remember him calling me a bigot.

      • Noa

        That’s odd. I do.

  • dtnorth

    Why cant I marry my partner of 18 years. Why are you preventing this. The person I love. The person I care for. Why is this?

    • dtnorth

      And PS. Mention religion and I will kick your head off.

      • Noa

        Are you a homosexual?
        What does ‘marriage’ provide you that a civil partnership does not?

        • dtnorth

          Live and let live. Not a concept you are familiar with.

          • Noa

            So, just another ranting bigot, unable to make his case, then.

          • ScaryBiscuits

            No, dtnorth, it is you who is inviting everybody else into your relationship. Nobody is stopping you live how you want and love who you want. What they object to is redefining marriage because personal freedom isn’t enough for you, you want attestation, and then calling people names if they don’t share your opinion.

            • eeore

              Since when has marriage been an invitation to wider society to join in a couple’s relationship?

              • ScaryBiscuits

                Since it became a public ceremony and since the participants sought an official seal. Look at dtnorth’s comment. Nobody’s stopping him from doing anything. That’s not his problem. His problem is that he wants official recognition and that certain other people aren’t getting sufficiently involved in his relationship for his liking.
                Common Law marriage, where couples who love each other simply get on with it, seeking no sanction from authority, church or state, or from other people has been available since time immemorium. It is difficult to understand why this isn’t good enough today.
                Traditionally if you didn’t like the way the Church of England did something, you simply didn’t go. Or if you were very motivated, you set up your own church. Modern people can’t be bothered to do that but still insist that things should be how they would like them and want everybody else to pay. It’s not being gay that most people object to but to this socialism.

        • dtnorth

          A husband outwith UK borders.

          • vieuxceps2

            Outwith?- Bless me ,ranting,raving bigoted and now it turns out he’s Scotch as well! Poor sod….

          • Noa


        • LEngland

          Are homosexuality and violent, ranting bigotry antithetical ?

        • Hexhamgeezer

          He could be homosexual and a ranting bigot. Maybe he just he aspires to one or the other, or perhaps his handlers at Troll Central haven’t decided yet.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Are you one of those who imagine only 1% of the population is gay. You really should get around more.

          • Noa

            I quote Big Brother’s own organ:-
            “The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says 480,000 (1%) consider themselves gay or lesbian, and 245,000 (0.5%) bisexual.”


            Of course in ‘Fergus World’, the percentages are obviously very different. So what are they for you?

            • Fergus Pickering

              Obvious balls, Noa. I should go for 5%, the traditional figure. Do you mean you find out people’s sexual preferences by ASKING them in a Government survey? What are the figures for paedophilia, pray? Or rape? How many people like beating or being beaten? Quite a few and we’ll know exactly if we ASK them. Aaah!.

              At my Scottish day school 1% would give us SIX homosexual boys. I KNEW double that. But perhaps Scots are noted for being gay whereas the English… straight as a die.

              • Noa

                So you don’t like the official figures because they don’t fit with your ‘experience’ Fergus?
                Then, as you have done, you can always concoct some of your own to suit your argument.
                And it is both ingenuous and fallacious of you to ‘compare’ pedophiles and rapists with homosexuals. Admitting to the first two would be confessing to criminal acts, homosexuality is legal. Would you confess to being an ‘offender’ in a government survey? I doubt it!

                As to your Scottish school experiences, they are just that, your experiences. The proportion was about 1% in mine, an English grammar school. On our, admittedly limited, empirical evidence,why do you think there are more four times more homosexuals in Scotland’s schools than England’s?

    • Daniel Maris

      So you approve of polygamy…as long as the people love and care for each other…that’s all that matters according to you. Thanks for the warning.

    • barbie

      You can marry whom you like, in a civil partnership, no one could stop you. Just stop making it a national symbol keep it to yourself.

      • Tom Tom

        No he can’t ! he cannot marry his father or his son or his brother…..can’t you feel the man’s pain ? Well he needs to adjust to reality

        • eeore

          Is he asking to marry a relation?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …give him time.

    • ScaryBiscuits

      Why should this be anything to do with me? By asking the state to sanction your personal life you are inviting its opinion, in which I have a vote. You shouldn’t then complain if not everybody agrees with you. You would be better just living your life as you see fit.

    • Tom Tom

      You cannot marry your father

      • vieuxceps2

        “You cannot mary your father”_What, not even if he’s homosexual?

    • vieuxceps2

      Get a civil partnership, go to a woodland glade or a quiet pool and ask the genius loci to bless your union. Saves pounds on the bells,flowers and choirboys.

    • Boudicca_Icenii

      Presumably you are gay. The reason is because marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Not two men and not two women. But you knew that anyway.

    • eeore

      You might equally ask why heterosexuals can’t have a civil partnership?

  • Blank Reg

    It’s quite painful watching a once great political party descending into madness like this.

    The other day the Housing Minister was saying here at the Spectator that he wanted more rented accommodation in Britain, apparently oblivious to that fact that fewer homeowners means fewer Conservative voters.

    Now, more evidence of chasing the votes of minority groups who probably won’t change their voting habits and constitute such small sectors if the population that it wouldn’t make any difference if they did.

    Is this the work of the strategic genius Gideon Osborne?

    • Daniel Maris

      Yep – I think I too detect the hand of Gideon “I won us a precarious hold on government in a coalition with the libdems in the middle of the worst economic recession for 70 years with one of the most unpopular PMs of all time who had managed to squander bazillions and wreck our economy” Osborne.

      • Tom Tom

        What is Osborne going to do after being kicked out ?

        • fantasy_island

          Sell wallpaper!

          • Daniel Maris

            Return to being a social secretary hiring various “entertainers” from the shadowy fleshpots of the metropolis.

    • Anita Bellows

      So it is playing political games with people’s lives. What can you expect from a Tory?