1 million Commonwealth nationals could swing UKelection

By Joanna Bennett
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New figures published today by The Royal Commonwealth Society suggest that over 1 million Commonwealth citizens living in the UK could vote in next week's General Election.

Potentially representing more than 2 per cent of the UKelectorate (roughly 45 million) and sometimes clustered in key marginal seats, these Commonwealth nationals could swing the election.

All adult citizens of Commonwealth countries who are resident in the UK(even if they are not British citizens) are eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary General Elections. By contrast, most citizens of the European Union (except those from Cyprusand Malta) are unable to vote in UKnational elections.

The RCS estimates are based on data from the Labour Force Survey for the last quarter of 2009. The figure covers nationals of Commonwealth countries, of voting age, living in the UK. It does not include British citizens of Commonwealth origin.

The biggest groups of Commonwealth nationals resident in the UK come from India, Pakistanand South Africa. More than half a million citizens from these three countries alone are eligible to vote in the UK. These communities are concentrated largely in West London, with sizeable clusters in Leicester, Bradford and Birmingham. Key marginal seats, such as Hampstead and Kilburn or Ealing Central and Acton, could be decided by their votes. See table below for details.

This eligibility is based on long-standing ties between the UKand Commonwealth members. British citizens enjoy similar reciprocal rights in countries such as Jamaica, Malawi, New Zealand, and Trinidad & Tobago.

Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Director of The Royal Commonwealth Society said:

“People often muse that the Commonwealth is no longer relevant to the UKbut our research shows that it is very much alive - and voting.

Immigrants won't just be under the election microscope, they'll be wielding it too. A good million of them will be scrutinizing what British politicians can offer them ahead of next week's election.

While these voter rights represent the deep and important ties between Britainand the Commonwealth, they will almost certainly be included in any review of electoral reform by a new UKgovernment.”





 

Nationality

Adults living in UK ,

Q4 2009

Likely geographical clusters

1.

India

270,000

Leicester ,

London (Ealing Southall; Felton & Heston; Brentford & Isleworth)

2.

Pakistan

139,000

Bradford West and North,

Birmingham Sparkbrook & Small Heath

3.

South Africa

103,000

London ( Wimbledon , Putney)

4.

Nigeria

90,000

London (Camberwell & Peckham, Bermondsey & Old Southwark, Hackney South & Shoreditch)

5.

Australia

66,000

London (Cities of London & Westminster , Hammersmith, Kensington)

6.

Jamaica

55,000

London (Tottenham, Hackney South & Shoreditch, Brent Central)

7.

Bangladesh

51,000

London (Poplar & Limehouse, Bethnal Green & Bow)

8.

Canada

51,000

London (Cities of London & Westminster, Chelsea & Fulham, Kensington)

9.

Ghana

50,000

London (Tottenham, Hackney South & Shoreditch, Vauxhall)

10.

New Zealand

49,000

London (Ealing Central & Acton, Hammersmith, Hampstead & Kilburn)

11.

Malaysia

33,000

London (Cities of London & Westminster, Kensington)

12.

Cyprus

29,000

London (Enfield Southgate, Enfield North)

13.

Kenya

15,000

London (Harrow West, Brent North)

Leicester East

14.

Trinidad and Tobago

13,000

London (Tottenham, Hackney South & Shoreditch, Brent Central)

15.

Uganda

12,000

Leicester East,

London ( Harrow Westl)

16.

Mauritius

10,000

 

17.

Zambia

8,000

Leicester East,

London (Harrow West)

18.

Malta

7,000

 

19.

Fiji

5,000

 

20.

Gambia

5,000

 

 

Top 10 nationalities total

924,000

 

Top 20 nationalities total

1,063,000 

 

All Commonwealth nationalities total

1,109,000