By Alex Tan – Political Correspondent
With just 2 days to go, the 2017 General Election has truly gripped us with excitement. But how will we, the British Chinese be voting?
Nee Hao Magazine has recently conducted a poll to its readers in the UK, over a period of 28 days. We asked 500 Chinese people made up of 250 males and 250 females aged between 18 to 60-years-old, which political party they would be voting for. The people asked lived in areas of the UK such as, London, Midlands, North West, North East and the South West of England.
45% have expressed a preference for voting for Labour this Thursday 8 June 2017, 40% Conservative, 10% Liberal Democrats, and 5% to other parties – Labour’s slight lead for this poll is not a surprise because it is fair to say that Labour seems to be more in line with Chinese values according to their manifesto.
An analysis of over 300 comments and discussions in forums and other social media platforms for British Chinese people has also have found an increase in opinions being pro Labour with an anti-Tory sentiment.
Here are some examples made up of comments from the British Chinese forums discussing who to vote for in the 2017 election:
“My family and I have always been a Tory voter, but their views on immigration have lost me at the last election.” – Mr. C.
“I don’t know anything about politics and this year will be my first year which I can vote. Labour seems to make more sense but I have yet to decide.” – Ms W.
“I am now running a Chinese community centre voluntarily. Due to the funding cut from the Conservatives, all the staff was made redundant in 2011. We relied on volunteers, who really helped by coming in to open and close the centre and continue to provide translation services to the community…. Without these volunteers coming every day to help out, these people will be left on their own. Will you be happy if your parents needed a letter from the hospital to be read and translated, but they have to pay £5-£10 for the service?” – Ms. L.
“Unless you’re a millionaire, the Conservatives don’t give a shit about you. Policies are nothing more than promises, and the Tories tell blatant lies without consequences. Vote Labour.” – Mr. N.
“I personally am voting Labour, as I am fed up of the Tories taking everything away from the common people (including my last job), and siphoning it to their rich friends.” – Mr. Y.
The reasons why Labour are more popular amongst the Chinese
The first reason why Labour are more in favour for the Chinese in the UK is because the party aim to build a society that is free from all forms of racism, including racism towards the Chinese community and emphasises the importance of having diversity in this country. The cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission by the Conservatives have led to an increase in the harassment and attacks we get in our (Chinese) community and (Chinese) businesses. Fear has begun to spread, and the issues of equality and discrimination are unwittingly growing. If there are more police on the streets, it would make us feel a lot more safe.
Second, Labour fights for the rights of overseas Chinese students. With the increasing tuition fees for international students and the difficulties in remaining in the country after their courses end, Britain has lost some of the best and brightest talents from all over the world. To tackle this issue, Labour acknowledges the economy and creative contributions students make – it will give more rights to Chinese and East Asian students, such as reversing the stance on the post-study work visa.
Third, the young Chinese in the UK may want to marry a partner from China or Asia in the future. Labour protects the right to bring your spouse to the country. In contrast the Conservatives vow to cut down the net migration figures and raise the proof of income for a British citizen to bring a non-British spouse over, the Labour party claims that they will develop and implement fair immigration rules.
Fourth, the Chinese people in the UK care deeply about our elderly in society and the NHS. We need to protect the NHS for our parents to use it! Labour will increase their investment on training nurses for the future (what this means is, there will be more nurses tending to patients and shorter waiting times for medical treatment!).
Finally, since the start of this election campaign, Theresa May has taken voters for granted by not engaging with the electorate – she was only keen to do stage managed events whereas Jeremy Corbyn was out and about talking to real people and encouraged young people to register to vote. In the run up to the registration closing date, over 2 million people registered to vote which included over 1 million young people under 35 years old. This is the leadership that the country is crying out for.
Proactive leadership for Chinese for Labour
The Labour party must have seen an increase in supporters from the Chinese community for the 2017 election campaign. Chinese for Labour leader, Sonny Leong CBE, and his team including Ashton McGregor and Jayne Lim deserve to take some credit for this. Chinese for Labour had adopted a new online media strategy targeting intelligent young Chinese voters who in turn would explain everything to their parents.
Leong and his team also looked closely at Labour’s manifesto and genuinely focused on polices that are relevant to Chinese people living in the UK. If Labour wins the Chinese and East Asian vote, it is down to Sonny Leong and his team. If they lose, they will have no complaints because they increased voter engagement and increased awareness of the Chinese for Labour brand for the long term.
Young voices are very important and they accounted for half of the voting population, making them a powerful political force. Yet, older British people are more likely to vote! Leong predicted that the campaign could be won or lost depending on social media. Hence this election needs to be focused on the young Chinese population mirroring the national campaign of engaging more young voters. His team engages in the media and the community with bilingual creative content, much more so than their previous campaigns.
Regardless of race, faith, or income, the Labour Party is the party for the Chinese. Their values align closest to ours. As a result of the media campaign for the election, Chinese for Labour has undoubtedly reached its goal of appealing to a new younger audience and will continue to do so.