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UK poll: Indian-origin MPs get record number of votes

The ten MPs saw more votes cast in their favour, irrespective of whether they represented Labour or Conservative, and notwithstanding the fortunes of their parties.

world Updated: Jun 11, 2017 15:18 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Conservative Party candidate Priti Patel received 31,670 votes in Thursday’s election, up from 27,123 in 2015.
Conservative Party candidate Priti Patel received 31,670 votes in Thursday’s election, up from 27,123 in 2015.(Twitter)

Thursday’s election was not good news for Prime Minister Theresa May, who lost her majority in the House of Commons. However, the election was good for the 10 Indian-origin MPs elected in 2015, all of whom retained their seats comfortably.

The ten saw more votes cast in their favour, irrespective of whether they represented Labour or Conservative, and notwithstanding the fortunes of their parties at the national level.

The biggest gainer was Conservative Party candidate Rishi Sunak, who received 36,458 votes in the Richmond constituency, up from 27,744 in 2015. Another big gainers was Labour’s Keith Vaz — the longest-serving MP of Asian origin — who saw votes in his favour rise from 29,386 in 2015 to 35,116 in 2017 in the Leicester East constituency.

They were joined by two (both Labour) — Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) and Preet Kaur Gill (Birmingham Edgbaston), taking the number of Indian-origin MPs to a record 12.

The results show that the 12-member group of Indian-origin MPs won not only from constituencies with large population of Indian/Asian origin but also from seats where their presence is negligible, such as Richmond Yorkshire, Witham and Wigan.

The 12 are part of another record — they are part of the most diverse Parliament in Britain’s history, with 51 non-white MPs elected.

The latest election result is seen as a positive story of integration in Britain since the landmark election of 1987, when five non-white MPs were elected for the first time in British parliamentary history. Since then, their number has been growing.

Operation Black Vote (OBV), a non-partisan political campaign group, termed the 51 candidates from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities being elected as “stunning”. More candidates from the communities were standing and winning in non-urban areas such as Peterborough, Oxford, Hitchin and Harpenden.

“This tells us that in spite of all the present challenges — rise in xenophobia, terrorism and tackling race inequality — Britain is comfortable with its multicultural society. Secondly, more BME people are voting, OBV said in a statement.

Its director, Simon Woolley, said: “In many ways, the result is a great testament for multicultural Britain. More talented BME faces will help transform Parliament and inspire many more to believe that we all have a voice and a place in our society. Britain’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths. Today we celebrate that.”

Thursday’s election also saw the highest number of women candidates elected in history — 207, up from 196 in the 2015 election.