Journalist Hugh Muir hits the streets, meeting Tory activists, candidates and MPs to witness the quest for more BAME votes.

Erasing Enoch: The Tory Quest for the Minority Vote

Some voters, thinks Gavin Barwell MP, ‘are so Conservative they don’t even know it’.

The Conservative Party won just 16% of the vote from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in the 2010 election – and both Gavin Barwell and party chairman Grant Shapps think they can do better in May. But how?

There’s much at stake for the party – the UK is changing, with more first-time voters from BAME backgrounds than ever before. If it can’t secure a higher proportion of the minority vote, party officials fear irrelevancy. But they have a brand damaged in many communities by memories of Enoch Powell.

As Baroness Warsi tells Hugh Muir, individuals in the Conservative Party ‘still say crazy things, offensive things, which re-toxify us when it comes to the ethnic minority communities’.

Over the course of a year, Hugh follows two potential candidates – Shaun Bailey and Loanna Morrison – as they try to secure a seat for 2015. With each Conservative association free to select its own candidate, autonomous from central office, the party knows what it wants to achieve but has limited capability to make it happen. How can it square that circle?

The programme also features interviews with Grant Shapps, Damian Green (Conservative MP for Ashford), Simon Woolley (Operation Black Vote) and Mohammed Amin (Conservative Muslim Forum).

Produced by Matt Hill and Peter Price. A PPM Production for BBC Radio 4.

Baroness Warsi speaks to Hugh Muir for 'Erasing Enoch' on BBC Radio 4, Monday 9th February at 20:00

Baroness Warsi speaks to Hugh Muir for ‘Erasing Enoch’ on BBC Radio 4, Monday 9th February at 20:00. Photograph: Paul Cochrane

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