The BBC Asian Network today announces the results of one of the biggest surveys of Asian voters ever undertaken in the UK, with its main finding revealing just 44% of Asians are likely to vote in the General Election on May 6. Considerably lower compared to the general population findings (a recent poll* suggested more than half of the general population (55%) will be voting in the general election), it also suggests that one in three Asian voters would now consider voting for a smaller party.
The poll, which was commissioned by ICM over the Easter period, interviewed 500 people over the age of 18, from Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds. Amongst the 44% of Asian voters who said they would turn out on May 6, people of Indian origin were the most enthusiastic (51%), followed by Bangladeshis (39%) and Pakistanis (38%), who were less keen on exercising their right.
Recent research compiled by the BBC Asian Network, found a significant Asian population in 14 of the Conservatives' top 100 target seats (Asian population of 9% to 43%) and that there are more Asian candidates standing for the main parties than ever before - 89 compared to 68 in 2005 (26% rise). Regardless of this finding, the poll discovered that only 15% of Asian voters said they would vote for an Asian candidate, with four in ten believing that Britain will never have an Asian Prime Minister.
Other findings of the poll published today, revealed that 56% feel that the elected Prime Minister needs to be tougher on immigration and over a quarter of the sample (30%), said they are not convinced that any of the main political parties understood Asian issues. The economy (23%), NHS (20%) and education (16%) were top of Asian voters' agenda, closely followed by foreign policy (10%), law and order (7%), and immigration and asylum (4%).
Finally, when it comes to one of the key tests of Asian hospitality - who would you invite into your home for a curry - Gordon Brown would be most welcome to share a biriyani with 35%, with David Cameron at 28% and Nick Clegg bringing up the rear with just 8%.
This week, the BBC Asian Network's politics reporter Adam Pasternicki takes to the road to visit key Asian communities around the UK. Coming live from various locations including Peterborough, Bradford and Birmingham, he focuses on some of the issues highlighted in the survey as well as outlining some of the key Asian battlegrounds. The network is also recruiting three Asian floating voters to watch all the leader TV debates and give their reaction on who comes out best.
On Friday 23 April (1pm-3pm), the BBC Asian Network holds a live Election Debate Special on Nihal's phone-in show. Coming live from a London location, prominent Asian politicians, Aqila Choudhry (Liberal Democrats), Neil Mahapatra (Conservative) and Sadiq Khan (Labour) take questions from a selected audience of listeners. The debate offers the opportunity for a no-hold-barred discussion about the dominant Asian issues in the upcoming Election.
In addition, there are separate debates on Nihal's show in the run up to the Election, looking at the significant minor parties as well as specific voting issues affecting Asians in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The network will also have Asian Network Reports: Election Special podcasts online at www.bbc.co.uk/asiannetwork.
To listen to the BBC Asian Network or for further information on its Election coverage, please visit - www.bbc.co.uk/asiannetwork
*ICM Guardian poll published on the 13th of April.
BBC Asian Network is a national digital radio station that reaches out to 360,000 listeners each week.