When history takes a U-turn: British Indians get closer to Conservatives

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Has the Conservative Party's impressive show in the just-concluded general election in the United Kingdom was shaped substantially by the Indian diaspora? [Conservative Party inches closer to victory]

British Indians get closer to Conservatives

Traditionally, British Indians have related themselves more with the Labour Party. British Indian politician Sir Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownagree was elected as the first Conservative Member of Parliament from Bethnal Green in 1885. He was re-elected in 1900.

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British Indians earlier had limited participation in UK's political process

But the trend has begun to change. The British Indians made limited participation in the political process earlier but the second and third-generation British Indians are more proactive. The educated professionals have integrated themselves well with today's multi-cultural Britain.

The UK parliament today has 25 Peers of Indian origin, which proves the Indian community's growing visibility in Britain's public life.

Conservatives were seen with suspicion earlier

The first-generation Indians who had migrated to Britain were not as well-off as Conservative politicians who they saw as typical white and imperialists who were against immigration. It was the Labour Party which was more popular among them for their soft stand.

Till recently, the Indian diaspora constituted a big majority of the Labour Party. But the reality has changed once the Indians in UK came of age.

Growing affluence has changed the reality today

With growing education and affluence, the Indians in UK have shifted more right and gone closer to the Conservative values. Even British Indian politicians are getting elected to Parliament on tickets of the Conservative Party.

The Conservative Party has also played its part to cash in on the Indians' support. The party launched a Hindi campaign song ahead of the May 7 elections to woo the Indian-origin voters.

Conservatives' 'Neela Hain Aasma' counter-globalisation campaign also cemented the bond

The song 'Neela Hai Aasma' was launched on April 24 (Neela meaning sky also symbolises the blue colour of the party). The tune played its part in encouraging the British Indian community to connect better with Prime Minister David Cameron and his party.

It is not the Indians in the UK who have changed sides in recent elections in that country. The Conservative leadership has also educated itself with 'Indianness' to increase the engagement with the British Indian community.

An ethnic minority PM in UK might be a distant possibility

Cameron recently even went to the extent of saying that Britain will see its first Conservative ethnic minority prime minister in another 20 years, just like the Jewish prime minister (Benjamin Disraeli) and woman prime minister (Margaret Thatcher).

The Conservative-led coalition government has also made it popular among the Indian diaspora by performing well in steering the economy out of trouble.

Conservative-led government has turned the economy around; another point of bonhomie

When the Conservatives took over from the Labour after 13 years in 2010, the economy was not in the best of shape and the future looked bleak. But the Cameron government brought the economy back on track and that has made the Indians happy. Britain now has an employment rate of 73.4 per cent, the highest since 1971, said a recent BBC survey.

There are of course problems but there is no denying that the Conservatives and the British Indian community have found a point of consensus and this change is here to stay.

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