Explaining the persistence of Labour Party partisanship among young ethnic minorities

Publication type

Conference Paper


Nicole Martin

Publication date


Ethnic minority support for the Labour party remains high, including among young people. It is frequently observed that, accounting for registration rates, voter turnout is much the same among ethnic minority electors as turnout among the white British group. However, this masks a paradox – ethnic minority voters are younger and more likely to be in poverty than white British voters, both characteristics that are otherwise associated with lower turnout. This paper argues that higher levels of Labour partisanship among ethnic minorities are behind this paradox, and explores the household mechanisms through which young ethnic minority voters are socialized into having a Labour party identity. Is it a simple household compositional effect, i.e., do white British young people growing up with parents who both support Labour go on to hold Labour party identity at the same rate? Co-ethnic social capital and experiences of discrimination are both associated with Labour party support among adults; do they play a role in explaining minority young people’s political attachments? We answer these questions by following the development of party support and interest in politics among young people aged 10-15, and among young people approaching their first election aged 16-21.


Politics, Psychology, Elections. Electoral Behaviour, Young People, Ethnic Groups and Sociology Of Households