The Conservative party winning a majority has been interpreted as the ‘death of British liberalism’, but a closer look at the election results reveals that a record number of 42 non-white MPs were elected, many from white-majority constituencies.
The 42 MPs include 10 of Indian-origin, five each from Labour and Conservative parties.
As parties mulled over the surprise results, senior Labour leader Alan Johnson pointed out several lacunae in the party’s campaign, and wrote: “Everyone is entitled to their theory as to what went wrong: mine is that from last week’s Question Time debate in Leeds, where Ed Miliband was assailed about Labour's alleged overspending, the die was cast”.
“The public became convinced that Labour had indeed driven the car into the ditch and declined to return the keys”, he wrote in The Guardian on Saturday.
The results renewed demands for a change in the electoral system from the first-past-the-post system to proportional representation as parties finished with vastly disproportionate number of seats compared to the votes they polled.
Noting the record increase in the number of MPs from a non-white or ethnic minority background, Sundar Katwala of campaign group British Future said progress over the years was due to three reasons.
He said: “Firstly, both the Conservatives and the Labour party now regularly select non-white candidates in winnable seats, breaking the pattern of a near-one-party monopoly between 1987 and 2005”.
“Secondly, the outdated assumption that ethnic minority candidates would only get a fair chance in highly diverse seats, because of voter prejudice, has been consistently disproven: voters in seats with a predominantly white electorate have not had any problem with non-white candidates representing them in Parliament”.
“Thirdly, broader social changes, with increased ethnic minority success in education and the professions, have seen an increasingly confident group of younger ethnic minority politicians come through, expecting to be able to succeed on their merits”.
Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote added: “Election after election we are seeing parliament become more representative from both political parties. The challenge now in the months and years to come will be to build upon that, so that by 2020 we see this figure nearly double”.