Migrant voters will be a crucial group in a number of parliamentary seats in the 2015 General Election

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Foreign-born residents of the UK could have an immediate impact in the May 2015 general election. Not only could migrant voters comprise a significant number of overall potential voters on 7th May 2015, but they could turn out in substantial numbers within some key marginal constituencies.

New research co-published by Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity at the University of Manchester and Migrants’ Rights Network today suggest that the migrant electorate could have decisive power in a range of key marginal seats across England and Wales: The list where the migrant share of the electorate is twice as large as the current majority share of the incumbent party includes at least 70 seats with key outer London and Midlands marginal seats at the heart of the 2015 election battle.

10 Downing street

10 Downing street

The research estimates that just under 4 million foreign-born voters across England and Wales will be eligible to vote in the May 2015 general election with the majority of voters from large, established Commonwealth migrant communities (in particular from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria and South Africa), along with the Irish Republic.

Ruth Grove-White report’s co-author from the Migrants Rights Network said: “Electoral voice of migrants themselves has been largely overlooked. This new data shows just how important it is to speak to this constituency. The risk facing the parties today is that their current fierce rhetoric over immigration will have a lasting impact on the political orientations of the new migrant electorate. While we know that migrant voters do not form a voting bloc, voting patterns suggest that migrant voters are likely to prefer parties that they view as positive about race equality and immigration issues.”

Dr Rob Ford from the University of Manchester who co-wrote the report said: “Ukip have made all the running with the immigration debate in the past few years and we have seen all of the parties looking to offer a harder line on migrants. But there is another side to this debate – millions of hardworking British citizens who came to this country from abroad who find this kind of rhetoric profoundly alienating. These figures should serve as a wake-up call to politicians of all parties – Britain is more than ever an outward facing, globalised country with a huge, hardworking, mobile electorate born overseas, however the political debate fails to reflect that contemporary reality in any meaningful way. ”

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