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Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn equally disliked by British Indian voters: Survey


London, Nov 20: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Opposition Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn are almost equally disliked as prime ministerial candidates among the Indian-origin electorate ahead of the December 12 General Election, according to a new survey of British Indian voter trends released on Wednesday.

Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn equally disliked by British Indian voters: Survey

The almost neck-and-neck race between the Conservative and Labour Party chiefs is reflective of wider electorate trends a day after the two leaders went head-to-head in the first television debate of the election campaign and ended with Johnson clutching on to a narrow lead.

"Fifty-three per cent of British Indians report holding an unfavourable opinion of Jeremy Corbyn, compared to only 28 per cent who say they have a favourable view of him. Comparatively, Boris Johnson fares worse, with 61 per cent having an unfavourable opinion and 23 per cent saying they have a favourable view," notes the India Inc.

Optimus 'Survey of British Indian Voters'

The first-of-its-kind opinion poll conducted by YouGov for UK-based media house India Inc. and US-based data analytics firm Optimus also finds the Labour Party losing its stronghold over its traditional British Indian vote base, declining 12 percentage points in comparison with the 2017 General Election.

Labour's woes are largely linked to a controversial motion on Kashmir passed at its party conference which struck an anti-India note among diaspora groups, something the party has been struggling to overcome. In comparison, the Conservatives are down four points since 2017, with the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats showing the most statistical hike among Indian-origin voters of 10 percentage points - reflective of the centrality of Britain's relationship with the European Union (EU) in this election campaign.

Among the other key findings of the British Indian survey include that more British Indians believe UK-India relations would worsen under a Labour government led by Corbyn in comparison with a Tory government led by Johnson. Nearly 47 per cent of respondents said they believe that the UK should do more to improve trade and investment with India and an overwhelming majority of British Indians prefer to remain in the European Union and are strongly opposed to a no-deal Brexit.

Most significantly, the survey throws up an 18 per cent undecided set of British Indian voters, higher than the national average of undecided voters ahead of the polls next month, leaving a large chunk of diaspora voters up for grabs for all major political parties.

"The India Inc Optimus Poll confirms what many have been saying for some time now, that Labour is losing its traditional support from Britain's 1.5 million strong Indian community. The staggering finding is the extent to which Indians are deserting Labour. This will certainly worry Labour campaign managers," said Manoj Ladwa, founder and CEO of London-headquartered India Inc.

"With nearly a fifth of British Indians still undecided, and 15 constituencies in which Asians, including Indians, constitute over 40 per cent of the population, 46 constituencies in which they constitute over 20 per cent, and 122 constituencies in which they constitute over 10 per cent, a continued shift towards the Conservative party among British Indian voters could be decisive in many seats," he said.

Ladwa said that it is important for parties to acknowledge that the Indian community in the UK can no longer be treated as a "block vote" that can be taken for granted. When asked which party they would be likely to support in the 2019 General Election, 34 per cent of British Indians report they plan to support Labour, down from the 46 per cent who voted Labour in the 2017 General Election. Conservatives are currently polling at 24 per cent, down four points from 2017.

The survey concludes: "Overall, this shrinks the Labour lead among British Indians from 17 points in 2017 to only 10 for the upcoming election. Liberal Democrats are the only party to see a statistically significant increase from 2017 to 2019, jumping 10 percentage points in two years (from 8 per cent to 18 per cent).

"Nearly half of party switchers (47 per cent) reported changing support due to Brexit policy, and an additional 9 per cent say that it is due to the respective parties' attitudes towards British Indians." More British Indians (28 per cent) think that if Corbyn became Prime Minister, UK-India relations would "get worse" compared to if Johnson remained Prime Minister (25 per cent). On the flip side, similar numbers think Johnson would "improve" bilateral relations with India (17 per cent) compared to Corbyn (18 per cent).

The survey was conducted by YouGov between November 13 and 18 and involved interviews with a target population of eligible British Indian voters out of an estimated 1.5 million British Indians living in the UK. YouGov interviewed 843 respondents who were then matched down to a sample of 800 to produce the final dataset.

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