Ethnic heterogeneity in the social bases of voting at the 2010 British General Election

Anthony F. Heath, Stephen D. Fisher, David Sanders, Maria Sobolewska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper investigates whether in 2010 ethnic minorities continued to give overwhelming support to Labour or whether the Conservatives made inroads, especially among the more middle-class or entrepreneurial sections of the ethnic minority electorate. Does ethnicity over-ride other social cleavages such as the class cleavage? Or does religion, especially Islam, now represent a cross-cutting cleavage alongside ethnicity? Using a major new survey, the 2010 Ethnic Minority British Election Study (EMBES), substantial variation was found between ethnic minorities in their level of support for Labour, although overall minority support for Labour remains double that of White British voters. In general the Conservatives have failed to make greater inroads than would be expected on the basis of uniform swing. Ethnicity does not in general 'trump' social class, although there are other ways in which the predictors of ethnic minority turnout and party choice differ from those of the majority group. Overall considerable heterogeneity is found in patterns of ethnic minority electoral behaviour and in the predictors of that behaviour. © 2011 Elections, Public Opinion & Parties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-277
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


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