Race and Elections

Black and minority ethnic voters will help decide Britain's next Prime Minister, according to new Runnymede research.



Read more and download the Race and Elections report

History Lessons

Who gets included in the story?

Runnymede's History Lessons project looks at the importance of diversity in the teaching of history.

Download the Perspectives Paper: Teaching Diversity In and Through the National Curriculum

Download the teaching resource: Making British Histories

Race Card

Race Card in an online news and comment platform run by Runnymede that provides a space where a diverse set of voices can speak honestly about race.

It is produced by a mixture of journalists, bloggers, politicians and academics. Race Card equips you with analysis and data to tackle enduring racial inequality in the UK.

Visit Race Card from this link.

Aiming Higher

Black and minority ethnic (BME) young people are often told to pursue education and training to improve their job prospects.

Since the 1990s BME people have had higher participation rates in higher education, but this new Runnymede report, Aiming Higher, shows that BME student still have to do better than their white peers to make it into university. Read: Aiming Higher: Race, Inequality and Diversity in the Academy

Martin Luther King

Fifty years ago Martin Luther King Jr spoke in London at St Paul's Cathedral on his way to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Runnymede is delighted to have supported an anniversary lecture on 4 December on how we can end racism today and work towards Martin Luther King's dream.

St Paul's have written up the event here, with Runnymede's Director putting it in current context here.

Ethnic inequalities

Runnymede has published a major report outlining inequalities between ethnic minorities and white British people for every local authority in England and Wales.

The research was produced by the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity at the University of Manchester and shows that differences in living standards for minorities and white British have remained persistent since 2000. Left alone, the problem will not solve itself.

Read the briefing or the full report. Data for any local authority is also available.


Posted by rebecca 09 December 2013 : BME , immigration , asylum , representation ,

Migration Matters, is RAMFEL’s annual review of all things related to immigration, migration, race and equality throughout the year. To celebrate, we have a special guest blog post from Rita Chadha, the Chief Executive Officer of RAMFEL, explaining why migration matters.

Posted by rebecca 11 November 2013 : BME , racism , criminal justice , human rights ,

It has been a year since Police and Crime Commissioner's (PCCs) were elected in the UK. Since then, the problems with Stop and Search have increased in profile, culminating in a government consultation on how fairly and effectively the powers are used in relation to street crime, burglary, antisocial behaviour, and public order offences. In this blog we look at how Stop and Search impacts on our human rights, and how PCC's can reform stop and search so that BME groups are not disproportionately affected by it, and that our rights are protected.

Posted by rebecca 25 September 2013 : BME , Labour , financial inclusion , racism , Runnymede , employment ,

In preparation for launch of its new campaign, ‘End Racism This Generation’, Runnymede commissioned a large-scale qualitative attitudinal survey from Ethnic Focus.

The results showed widespread fear among ethnic minorities that discrimination because of their race or religion would affect their chances in education and employment.

Posted by Vicki 10 July 2012 : BME , racism , far-right , education ,

Today's blog post is written by Runnymede's Research and Policy Analyst Phil Mawhinney

Racism is very much alive in sport, despite it being one of the few remaining public spaces for anti-racism, and new forms of racism are emerging. So said Professor Ben Carrington at a Europe House discussion on racism in sport held last week, in partnership with Runnymede. So, is the debate actually progressing and how can we move forward?

Even football-phobes cannot have failed to notice the recent Euro 2012 tournament (won, predictably, by the pre-eminent Spanish side), and the many programmes and articles highlighting the racist abuse of players by fans. Add this to the recent high-profile cases of (alleged) abuse by players on other players – such as Luis Suarez being banned for abusing Patrice Evra, and John Terry being stripped of the England captaincy while under investigation for abusing Anton Ferdinand – and you can see why racism in sport has been so widely-discussed of late.

Former footballers Paul Elliot CBE and Paul Mortimer spoke at the event, giving affecting accounts of the abuse they received, including from their own fans and teammates. Many see footballers as huge egos, grossly overpaid for playing a kids’ game. Paul Elliot helpfully emphasized that the football pitch is the footballer’s workplace and everybody has the right to work in a place free from discrimination. Racism in sport is about rights.

Posted by phil 10 July 2012 : BME , racism , far-right , Runnymede , human rights , Europe , employment ,

Racism is very much alive in sport, despite it being one of the few remaining public spaces for anti-racism, and new forms of racism are emerging. So said Professor Ben Carrington at a Europe House discussion on racism in sport held last week, in partnership with Runnymede. So, is the debate actually progressing and how can we move forward?

Even football-phobes cannot have failed to notice the recent Euro 2012 tournament (won, predictably, by the pre-eminent Spanish side), and the many programmes and articles highlighting the racist abuse of players by fans. Add this to the recent high-profile cases of (alleged) abuse by players on other players – such as Luis Suarez being banned for abusing Patrice Evra, and John Terry being stripped of the England captaincy while under investigation for abusing Anton Ferdinand – and you can see why racism in sport has been so widely-discussed of late.

Former footballers Paul Elliot CBE and Paul Mortimer spoke at the event, giving affecting accounts of the abuse they received, including from their own fans and teammates. Many see footballers as huge egos, grossly overpaid for playing a kids’ game. Paul Elliot helpfully emphasized that the football pitch is the footballer’s workplace and everybody has the right to work in a place free from discrimination. Racism in sport is about rights.

Posted by klara 17 May 2012 : BME , far-right , Europe , austerity , employment ,

Today's blog post is written by Klara Schmitz, a research and policy analyst at Runnymede. This piece also appears on the website of the UK Race and Europe Network (UKREN).

Greek left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras has today accused European leaders of “playing poker with European people’s lives”, by insisting on austerity measures, whilst David Cameron is due to tell French President François Hollande that austerity is working and “we are moving in the right direction”, when they meet tomorrow. Austerity has been the main prescription across Europe for dealing with the continent's nearly three-year-old debt crisis, but what impact is it having on ethnic minorities and anti-racism work across the EU?

Back in 2010 Amnesty International’s Annual Report demonstrated that the economic downturn had led to a rise in racism and xenophobia in public discourse in Europe.  Earlier in May, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), published their Annual Report claiming that the economic crisis was fuelling the rise of racism and intolerance in Europe. It said that the lack of economic opportunities and welfare cuts are pushing ethnic minorities into poverty, and feeding negative attitudes towards immigrants.

ECRI has recently reiterated its concerns about the persistence of racist violence across Europe, and the economic crisis is often seen to be fuelling fears among the general public that can lead to racist attacks on ethnic minorities and migrants. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of racist attacks in many countries, including Italy, Malta and Greece.

Posted by Vicki 05 April 2012 : BME , education , criminal justice ,

Today's blog post is written by Ojeaku Nwabuzo, a researcher at Runnymede

On Monday 6 August I read a twitter message from a close friend saying “riots are about to happen in Hackney”. At this point there had been two days of civil unrest in Tottenham and Brixton and I had a feeling it would eventually erupt in Hackney. Why? Well there was a pattern emerging. These were urban areas with high proportions of deprivation, unemployment and minority ethnic people that appeared to be reacting to the death of Mark Duggan at the hands of the police.

Over the next few months I worked on the Riot Roundtables project; one of the few in-depth inquires into civil unrest in England last year that asked if race was a factor in the disturbances. As part of this project we visited communities across England and overwhelmingly participants in our research said that racial injustice was an underlying cause of the disturbances in August 2011.

Many roundtable participants felt that the death of Mark Duggan, a mixed raced man, had awakened a deep and real memory of historical injustices and grievances that Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities have had with the police and the criminal justice system. Currently, we can see in America how the killing of Trayvon Martin has lead to outrage within the black community and as one commentator said his death “is finally lifting the lid on the US's racist underbelly”.

Posted by Vicki 11 August 2011 : BME , Conservative , Runnymede , criminal justice ,

Our head of policy, Omar Khan, writes on the term 'gang' and the UK riots

Runnymede has been urging caution on speculating on the causes of the riots that are now hopefully over in London and other English cities. Politicians have been somewhat more careful in jumping to conclusions than our media, but today the Prime Minster showed less compunction in identifying the causes of the riots, an incaution that unfortunately spread across the government and opposition benches.

According to Cameron: "gangs were at the heart of the protests and have been behind the coordinated attacks". While there is some anecdotal evidence that some criminal gangs may have taken advantage of the riots on the second and third day of rioting,  the majority of rioters were obviously not gang members.

We have warned in the past about the explanatory usefulness of ‘gangs’. As we put it in a recent publication, ‘Rethinking Gangs', '"the gang" provides a potent shortcut to understanding youth conflict, offering Hollywood style images of urban chaos and random violence, threatening to spill out from inner city ghettos, in the place of more complex explanations exploring the realities of this phenomenon.’

The suggestion that US police familiar with handling gang violence will be asked to advise on responding to these riots goes against consistent findings that there is no evidence of US-style gangs in the UK. But the idea that policy should tackle gangs more directly is not limited to importing a US police official, nor is it simply a Conservative fascination. Indeed, policymakers’ likely definition of a ‘gang’ will probably flow from that defined in a 2009 Act passed by the previous government. It defines ‘gang related violence as follows:

Posted by Vicki 08 August 2011 : BME , financial inclusion , criminal justice ,

Today's blog post is written by our director, Dr Rob Berkeley

The scenes beamed around the world of Tottenham in flames are a tragedy. A tragedy for the already vulnerable people of Tottenham whose lives and livelihoods have been put at unnecessary risk, a tragedy for a city that had begun to imagine itself as an exemplar of good relations between people from different backgrounds, but also a tragedy for our politics that creates the situation in which street disturbances of this kind can happen.

The image of the hooded youth aiming a missile at police lines against a backdrop of burning vehicles is too reminiscent of the riots of thirty years ago to be ignored. We may have told ourselves that those days could never return, but we have simply failed to examine the evidence. There is no excuse for rioting, but it is crucial that we understand the context in which it happens.

In 1981 we could look at the disenfranchisement and despair among large sections of London youth. In education there was a 20 point-gap in achievement between Black and White youth. In Haringey schools this year that gap had increased to one of 35 points.

In 1981 we could highlight the levels of youth unemployment - which reached as high as 45%. Currently 20% of White young people are unemployed, 40% of Pakistani youth and half of all Black youth.

In 1981 we noted poor relationships between the police and young people with the now infamous 'sus' laws. Reports earlier this year highlighted that Black men were 8 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white men. Under some powers such as Section 60 this rises to 26 times more likely. Effective policing would clearly be welcomed by a community such as that in Tottenham where people are much more likely to be victims of crime. Effective policing is based on trust and consent, rather than antagonism and suspicion.

Posted by Vicki 19 May 2011 : Gypsy , Traveller , BME , racism , Chinese community ,

* This blog post was written by Helen Barnard of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation *

I have spent a good part of the last couple of years developing a new programme for JRF, focusing on the relationship between poverty and ethnicity. It's been fascinating and lots of people have been incredibly generous with their time and expertise. It has also been very challenging: the area is extremely broad, tensions often run high, language is vital and issues tend to become more and more complex the further you examine them.

Research so far shows that the poverty and ethnicity are linked: the differences in poverty rates across different ethnic groups is one clear indicator of that: 17% for white British people, 23% for Indian people, 24% for black Caribbean people, 25% for people from Chinese or 'other' backgrounds and 52% for Pakistani and Bangladeshi people.

There are also big differences in employment rates, pay, education and caring responsibilities. However, here things become more complicated. The simple story of people from all ethnic minority backgrounds having uniformly worse outcomes than people from white British backgrounds doesn't hold. Two key areas are work and education; in both of these the evidence so far shows some interesting and complex patterns.

In the workplace, research has demonstrated very clearly that there is discrimination in recruitment against people with names that do not appear to be white British. This tends to be more common in the private sector and smaller employers than in the public sector and larger employers. However, discrimination does not explain all of the differences in employment rates, nor levels of in-work poverty across different ethnic groups. Part- time work and self employment are more common among some ethnic groups, as is working in particular types of sectors – all of which affect pay. Pakistani, Bangladeshi and black people are also paid less on average than those with similar qualifications from either white British or Indian backgrounds. All of these patterns are affected by the decisions that people make, where they live, and the social networks they have.

In education, when children start school, those from Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi back grounds tend to be behind those from white British backgrounds. However, this changes over time so that Indian and Chinese pupils end primary school with the highest attainment. In secondary school, young people from Traveller backgrounds have the lowest attainment overall, while white British boys from poor backgrounds make the least progress. However, recent analysis has highlighted variations across the country in results for children from the same ethnic and social backgrounds; another reminder of the dangers of making broad statements about ethnicity.

Posted by rob 13 April 2011 : BME , Conservative , racism , Runnymede ,

Thirty years ago on April 11 we saw the riots, or uprisings, in Brixton. Thankfully those now seem to be distant days and the chances of another summer marked by racialised violence appear to be remote (though not many predicted the riots of 1985, 2001 or 2005).

What the riots made clear was that ignoring discrimination and social exclusion is not a recipe for building harmonious communities. We pride ourselves on the progress made since 1981, in terms of legislation and political representation, but is that progress as great as we would like?

After all, much has changed in the past 30 years, right?

  • In 1981, black youth unemployment was estimated at a shocking 55 per cent. Last year we saw unemployment among black 16-24 year olds reach 48 per cent.
  • In 1981, there was an 18 point gap in achievement of 5 or more higher level CSEs or O-levels between white students and black Caribbean (West Indian) students. Last year there was an 18 point gap between the achievement of black Caribbean boys and white boys.
  • In the mid 1980s, black Caribbean men made up 8 per cent of the prison population. Last year that figure had nearly doubled to 15 per cent of the prison population.

Posted by Vicki 09 March 2011 : BME ,

Today's blog post is written by public affairs intern Chris McLaurin

Reforms to local housing benefits will adversely impact black and minority ethnic people and single parents, according to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG). The charity filed proceedings for judicial review, claiming that the government’s new legislation will undermine the housing allowance scheme and as good as force benefit recipients into less desirable areas and more overcrowded housing.

The government’s argues that the move is aimed at pushing the unemployed back to work and cutting the deficit. The policy will include a cap on the rates of housing benefit, without taking into account the reality of property prices in any given area. Claimants will be expected to make up for the shortfall between their rent and housing allowance or move into cheaper accommodation. The policy also introduces size criteria to the scheme, which will oblige people to move into smaller and less expensive accommodation.

Posted by Omar 02 March 2011 : BME , racism , human rights ,

I’ve been thinking about many of the issues that arose out of the UN’s Third Forum on Minority Issues. One question that I keep returning to is why the term ‘minorities’?

In the UK, we’re familiar with the idea that ‘ethnic minorities’ experience a range of disadvantages, and that similar phenomena occur across Europe and in North America. However, one of the examples the conference highlighted – black South African people – made me think twice about whether being a minority is really what we or other organisations fighting discrimination and disadvantage should focus on.

Posted by Rob 10 February 2011 : BME , far-right , Runnymede , criminal justice , anti-terrorism , human rights ,

This post was also published on Left Foot Forward

So we’re back to what is becoming an old chestnut; as the latest senior politician condemns multiculturalism. On Saturday, David Cameron took his place, behind Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Trevor Phillips, arguing that “state multiculturalism” has encouraged “different cultures to live separate lives” with a particular Cameron twist – that the UK needs a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to extremism. Surely, such a panoply of senior politicians should have been able to organize the end of so-called state multiculturalism by now – unless of course it never existed in the first place, they do not really mean it, or the alternatives are simply too unattractive to countenance.

A key problem in debates around multiculturalism is that the term means different things to different people. Some believe that multiculturalism actively promotes separate religious and ethnic identities at the expense of common values, whilst others believe that it simply means the existence and recognition of different identities in a shared political space within a framework of human rights. Runnymede’s understanding of the term has always been the latter.

Posted by admin 07 January 2011 : BME , financial inclusion , Runnymede , human rights ,

Download my speech to the Human Rights Council's Forum on Minority Issues in full by clicking on the pink link below.

Posted by Vicki 24 November 2010 : BME , Labour , representation , coalition ,

Today's blog post is written by our public affairs intern Ashley Burton-Lynch

Labour peer Lord Falconer has slammed government plans to change constituency boundaries due to the fact this will exclude the 3.5 million people currently not on the electoral register because of out of date data. He added that many of those excluded from the register would be Black and minority ethnic (BME) people. Lord Falconer made the comments during the House of Lords’ second reading of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, where the government has proposed that constituencies across the UK should be of an equal population size and be reduced by 50 seats.  

Lord Falconer went on to argue that the changes would create constituencies which “carve(d) up communities” and did not reflect local needs. This, according to Lord Falconer, was supported by the Constitution Committee which stated in its report on the Bill that holding a public consultation on the issue would have highlighted whether the electorate actually thought equalisation of constituencies should be prioritised over other considerations.

Labour peer Baroness Healy elaborated on these concerns by adding that “if these missing millions are ignored in the redrawing of boundaries, it will have a distorting effect on the electoral map and unforeseen social consequences whereby government bodies do not recognise the true nature of the communities they should be supporting” – for example concerning the allocation of funds per head.

Posted by Vicki 26 April 2010 : Equality Bill , BME , Labour , EHRC , election , representation ,

Gordon Brown has today written a post for the Operation Black Vote blog on Labour’s policies for BME communities.

In the post, Brown defends Labour’s record on fighting racial prejudice, particularly highlighting the party’s introduction of a duty for all public bodies to tackle racial discrimination, the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, this year’s Equality Act and the establishment of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

On the rise of the far-right, Brown states that Labour is working closely with faith communities, trade unions and community organisers to defeat the BNP.

Posted by Vicki 01 April 2010 : BME , Conservative , Labour , Lib Dem , representation ,

This week Anne Begg MP introduced a parliamentary debate on the Speaker’s Conference on parliamentary representation. Some of you may remember that the Speaker’s Conference recommended in its January report that more must be done to encourage local political activism and to prevent discrimination against potential parliamentary candidates who do not fit the traditional mould.

In this week’s debate, Begg – who is also Chair of the Equalities All Party Parliamentary Group – argued that diversity in parliament is “fundamental to our democracy” and a “matter of justice”.

Posted by Vicki 26 March 2010 : BME , financial inclusion , Runnymede ,

Our patron Lord Parekh spoke on the impact of the recession on ethnic minorities in a House of Lords debate on the economy yesterday. Highlighting Runnymede research that BME people are more likely to be rejected for loans, he also focused on how unemployment has hit ethnic minorities harder than the rest of the population.

He suggested that there has been “high incidence” of discrimination when redundancies take place, and also argued that the fact that the public sector is “no longer as sheltered as it was in the earlier stages of the recession” has had an impact on BME people.

Posted by Vicki 25 March 2010 : BME , financial inclusion , Runnymede ,

What does yesterday’s budget mean for BME communities? As Runnymede’s recent report on asset inequality found, 60% of Black and Asian people have no savings, and recommended that the government should therefore do more to build up assets for everyone. In light of this, the scrapping of stamp duty for homes costing below £250,000 is a welcome move as it will to some degree encourage home ownership among all communities, particularly first time buyers. In addition, as BME people are more likely to live in deprived areas with low cost housing they will be more likely to buy homes costing under £250,000.

The government’s headline “financial inclusion” policy in yesterday’s budget was the guarantee of bank accounts for all. This is a positive move as it makes concerns around identity requirements (such as having a British passport) less relevant. However more could be done to improve money advice for BME communities. Research by Runnymede to be published next week found that BME communities are at risk of exclusion from the government’s new money advice service despite the fact that given the prevalence of serious money issues in these communities they are in more need of the service.

Finally, increased support for small businesses (SMEs) will help benefit BME communities as most BME entrepreneurs run SMEs. In addition, given past evidence of there being discrimination against BME Small and Medium Enterprises' (SME) access to credit in the UK (see Runnymede’s Financial Inclusion and Ethnicity report) the government announcement that RBS and the Lloyds Bank Group will be compelled to provide £94bn in small business loans is a welcome move.

Posted by Vicki 18 March 2010 : BME , Conservative , election ,

David Cameron addressed black voters yesterday at an event in Peckham where he answered questions on issues facing the local and wider community. The Evening Standard has reported that at the event Cameron pledged to call an end to police using terrorism laws to search people not suspected of terror-related offences. He also stated that he would increase powers to prevent BNP members from becoming teachers.

Also of interest, Cameron announced in an article in the Guardian that if elected he will introduce a national mentoring programme for black people wanting to start a business.

Latest News

Increasing their party's appeal to ethnic minority voters could help decide whether David Cameron or Ed Miliband emerges as Prime Minister, according to our report Race and Elections released 20 April 2015.
Runnymede's Director, Dr Omar Khan, has been asked to sit alongside leading politicians on the Financial Inclusion Commission.
The Runnymede Trust has joined peer organisations in endorsing the Race Equality Matters' Election Statement.