Brown Tories!

By Razib Khan 26 Comments

Pieces like this in The Guardian are somewhat funny, How did British Indians become so prominent in the Conservative party? It’s not that complicated. A lot of British Indians are professionally and economically successful. As bourgeois voters, they’re good targets for the Conservative Party, so long as that faction mutes excessive anti-minority sentiment.* The same calculus that is at work with British Jews applies to British Indians.

The numbers speak:

Fast-forward to 2010, and the Conservatives held 30% of the British Indian vote. After 30 years of Thatcherite ideology, British Indians were the most pro-Conservative ethnic minority, after the Jewish community. After decades of gradual advance, this number soared to 40% in 2017. In the 2019 election, as the Conservatives chased a realignment towards white northern voters based on racist scaremongering, support in constituencies with high Indian populations increased substantially again. At every point, this has included members of both groups of Indian migrants. Now British Indians make up 15% of the Tory cabinet.

The Tories have now managed to extend their appeal beyond the “two time” migrants by finding common cause in a project of Islamophobia. Supported by the Indian government and its far-right ruling party, the BJP, the Conservatives have exploited a sharp rise in Hindu nationalism within the British Indian community to play Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Muslim communities off against one another.

And of course, there is the fact that the Labour Party religion at prayer is Islam, at least of an ethnicized sort. For each action, there is an opposition and equal counter-reaction. British Jews and Hindus and Sikhs are suspicious of excessive Islamophilia. They will vote for the faction which is less friendly to this. It doesn’t take deep analysis.

* The racialist and Christian fixations of the Republican Party is the primary reason that most Indian Americans, who are immigrants, position themselves on the moderate Left with centrist Democrats.

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26 Replies to “Brown Tories!”

  1. I just enjoy the heartburn of “woke” Hindu left to news like this. I am in multiple watsapp groups with them , and there is palpable anxiety of Hindu Americans turning a bit towards Trump (“They wont vote Trump, can they?, these Gujjus i tell u…”)

    Scratch the surface and all their class-less, caste-less woke-ness comes tumbling down.

    1. Well, at least both sides are getting consistent in their views and opinions. It was grossly hypocritical of Hindu Americans to support Modi while opposing Trump. In America, they are the “termites” the alt-right wants to kick out, so if they support the kicking out of “termites” from India, they should allow “patriotic” Americans to do the same (to them).

      1. There’s a lot of dubious assumptions in this line of reasoning:

        1) Voting for a party in a 2-party FPTP system implies strict adherence to the stated views of its Establishment.

        2) The Indian Diaspora actually knows or cares about the specific policies or stances that you impute to them.

        2) Every country needs to have the same views on immigration and related matters.

        1. The basic dubious assumption is that there is no daylight between Trump and the alt-right. This assumption fails the most basic fact check. Trump has a Jewish son-in-law. To marry him his daughter converted. Trump has an immigrant wife.
          This is not to say Trump has enlightened views on any of these matters, just that his behaviour and the facts of his life go against what the alt-right demands.
          Trump is all about egotism and egoism. He does not hew to any political ideology. His actions do not necessarily go against ALL Indian immigrants. All Indian immigrants do not have the same interests however much this may distress people on the Left.

          1. Nobody cares at this point how Trump lived his life before his presidential campaign began. What he has advocated for and what he has put into effect since then matters because he has gained immense power to affect other peoples’ lives. He may not carry a card saying “Alt-Right” but he’s their most powerful advocate, even if he may not do everything they want. And he has been harsher in practice (to the extent his executive powers allow) on immigration and visas; if you aren’t aware of this, it’s because you are probably already a US Citizen and don’t have to deal with Immigration or DHS.

            Anyway, my original point was that it was hypocritical for someone to be anti-Trump and pro-Modi. I think we have digressed some distance from that.

          2. Numinous, how should someone (who happens to be Indian) in favour of low taxes, accepting of diversity and who does not agree with the Left about what passes for secularism in India vote (in the US) without being a hypocrite in your opinion ?

            Or are those views themselves hypocritical ?

          3. @Arjun:

            Or are those views themselves hypocritical ?

            No, this is fair. I was looking at voting patterns (and political affiliations) through the lens of the immigration issue, because that’s what mainly separates Trump from traditional Republican standard bearers (trade too, but that’s more low-profile than immigration.)

            The answer to your question would be: such people could rationally vote for Democrats in the US, but my question in response would be: why would they then support Modi in India? Modi has hardly been a beacon of limited government, free market, free trading, values. He’s cut taxes once, very recently, because of the dumpster fire the economy has turned into. But that’s hardly been his MO, which more resembles the Nehruvian Swadeshi model than anything.

            (One example of someone who has changed his views recently, and who I don’t regard as a hypocrite, is Sadanand Dhume, who was recently interviewed on Browncast.)

            So, don’t just look at voting patterns and preferences in the States. Examine the consistencies (or lack thereof) between preferences in both countries.

        2. Sure, you can dispute #1 and #2 if you want, but I think they are not too far off the mark.

          “Countries having views on immigration”

          This makes it sound like a theoretical public policy dispute. I was talking about something simpler: people adopting different standards for others than they do for themselves, and advocating others be treated in a way that would make them scream bloody murder if such treatment were inflicted upon them. Basically, the definition of hypocrisy. Which happens to be a very common human affliction, but it bugs me a lot, so I mentioned it (I’m weird).

          1. 1 and 2 are very far off the mark. American parties are massive, heterogeneous coalitions where the base and the elites want different things, and the base often has simple, surface-level, tribal reasons for voting for the party rather than thoroughly assessing the matter.

            —-

            I don’t personally care tbh, I support Trump to trigger liberals and keep taxes low.

          2. Which happens to be a very common human affliction, but it bugs me a lot, so I mentioned it (I’m weird)”

            I am a bit like that. I get ur point on Trump and Modi. But i think people see other people being hypocriticial and they feel its alright to be a tad bit one-self. Its like greed.

      2. “Well, at least both sides are getting consistent in their views and opinions”

        I think British Indians seems smarter than Indian Americans. Neither side (democrats/republicans) should totally lose hope or become over confident, that they have the Indian american vote. If it happens , like its right now, u will have the Republicans coming after u (since nothing to lose), while democrats not doing anything to save u (“where will they go”)? Looks the Brit Indians are closer to the sweet spot.

        1. Indian Americans are a pack of retards. I’ve met some who intend to vote Dem, and so I ask them “sounds good, who do you like in the primary”?

          They look at me like I’m an alien.

          Then I have to explain what a primary is.

          These are people with graduate degrees.

  2. 1.) Only 20-30% of Sikhs vote Conservative in the UK (according to a late 2019 poll).

    2.) Islamophilia is as dumb a term as Islamophobia. Dumber in this case, as Labour is actually anti-Islam, they are just also pro-Muslim (which helps make them sympathetic to Palestinians and Kashmiris), and this infuriates Jews and Hindus.

    3.) UK Conservatives (and Europeans in general) are an order of magnitude more “racialist” then American Conservatives. Its just that in the last 20 years the UK ones have made Muslims their principle foil, something Hindus and Jews are fine with, if not eager about.

  3. I’ve having trouble finding racial stats breakdown. Does the UK not really release those? I have trouble buying any stat without an official breakdown. Could it be that there are more Indians in the cabinet but more Indians didn’t vote Tory?

    Racialist? Perhaps. But if they are anti-Muslim like you are arguing, they have turned more towards religious bigotry. Islam isn’t a race…If anything, the average Hindu is genetically further from them than the average Muslim, given Pakistanis marginally and Middleeastern Muslims especially are closer to White Britons, with only Bangladeshis being marginally further away

  4. 3.) UK Conservatives (and Europeans in general) are an order of magnitude more “racialist” then American Conservatives.

    no, europeans are different from UK conservatives. UK conservatives more like GW bush era republicans re: race i’m pretty sure. when i visited europe & UK, the difference re: race was palpable. people on the continent are casually racist in a way british people outside of certain classes are not.

    1. In Europe most of the variance in racial attitudes is between West and East, not between the UK and Continent. People from several European countries score the same or higher than the UK when asked how comfortable they’d be with their child having romantic relationship with a Black or Asian person. These include the Netherlands and Sweden. Eastern countries like Hungary or Bulgaria score very low indeed.
      See details: survey

  5. Racialist? Perhaps. But if they are anti-Muslim like you are arguing, they have turned more towards religious bigotry. Islam isn’t a race…If anything, the average Hindu is genetically further from them than the average Muslim, given Pakistanis marginally and Middleeastern Muslims especially are closer to White Britons, with only Bangladeshis being marginally further away

    yeah, well in the usa islam has been ‘racialized.’ a blue-eyed bosnian muslim is a ‘person of color’ while a swarthy lebanese xtian is not.

  6. “Supported by the Indian government and its far-right ruling party, the BJP, the Conservatives have exploited a sharp rise in Hindu nationalism within the British Indian community to play Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Muslim communities off against one another.”

    This is dumber than Russiagate.

    1. “British Indian community to play Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Muslim communities off against one another”

      As Anduin says on the battle for Azeroth against the Hordes

      “Stand as one, for the alliance!”

  7. The question is that whether the British Labor Party is realizing that becoming the patron party of Islam is a electoral deadend or Islam has become another identity marker of the British left? The British Muslim population is sufficiently large enough that the British Muslims can live within their vanguard of ummah bubble for a while. It will be interesting to see what lessons the US Democrats take from Britain

    1. It’s a collective action problem. Islamophilia boosts one’s status within the Left, but when everyone does it, it vitiates the Left.

    2. I think with the growth of the Muslim population in the UK it is probably good long-term strategy for the Labour Party to continue being the Islamic Party. Heck, in a few years the Labour Party may even be renamed as such.

  8. The article does not say much for the writer’s analytical skills.18 out of the top 20 constituencies with the highest proportion of Indian-origin voters went for Labour. The swing to the Tories in Leicester East linked to in the article was because the Indian MP there Keith Vaz resigned after it emerged he was doing cocaine while cavorting with gay prostitutes. Labour then parachuted in a black woman from north London who was a Corbyn acolyte as their candidate which did not go down well locally. In a seat with 60% of voters being of Indian origin, she still won more than 50% of the vote.

    https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2019/12/sunder-katwala-the-conservatives-ethnic-minority-voters-and-the-election-next-to-no-progress.html

    “Joe Twyman of DeltaPoll has shown that there was no correlation between the proportion of Indian-origin voters in a constituency and changes in either Labour or Conservative support. That applies similarly if the exercise is repeated for Hindu voters. Any dramatic swing to the Conservatives among Indian or Hindu voters should show up in these seats. “If you want to play the politics of voting blocs, then let’s play the politics of voting blocs”, Trupti Patel of the Hindu Forum of Britain told the Times of India – but the claim to command a Hindu voting bloc finds no support in the date.””

    Whatever goes on in India or Pakistan, it does not have much impact in the UK partly because say Pakistani Mirpuri Muslims and Indians largely live in different parts of the country, neighbourhoods etc. More of the recent Indian immigrants over the past 20 years appear to be south Indian IT contractors who don’t have the visceral hatred of Islam that is more prevalent in the cow-belt.

  9. Ali Choudhury, you are a powerhouse of information that takes me some time to digest.

    “18 out of the top 20 constituencies with the highest proportion of Indian-origin voters went for Labour” WOW!. Could the Indians have voted non Labour even as the Labour candidate won?

    “The swing to the Tories in Leicester East linked to in the article was because the Indian MP there Keith Vaz resigned after it emerged he was doing cocaine while cavorting with gay prostitutes. Labour then parachuted in a black woman from north London who was a Corbyn acolyte as their candidate which did not go down well locally. In a seat with 60% of voters being of Indian origin, she still won more than 50% of the vote.” WOW!

    “Any dramatic swing to the Conservatives among Indian or Hindu voters should show up in these seats.”
    Maybe not if Labour support rose among muslims?

    “Whatever goes on in India or Pakistan, it does not have much impact in the UK partly because say Pakistani Mirpuri Muslims and Indians largely live in different parts of the country, neighbourhoods etc.”
    I think it does matter to Indians to some degree. Have you noticed a deep anger against Corbyn among Indians who vote Labour (they vote Labour despite hating Corbyn)?

    “More of the recent Indian immigrants over the past 20 years appear to be south Indian IT contractors who don’t have the visceral hatred of Islam that is more prevalent in the cow-belt.”

    India does not have a “cow-belt”. If anything Tamil Nadu is the most spiritual religious cow friendly place in India.

    Indians don’t have a hatred of Islam or muslim prophets. Many Indians are pro Islam and pro muslim prophets and pro muslim pirs while being angry at muslim people. There is especially intense anger directed at the steriotypical “conservative Sunni male”. Until recently this phrasing was not popular among Indian nonmuslims. It is now!

    When Indians blast muslims they don’t mean the Sufi, Shia, liberal muslims or atheist muslims. They mean the wrong type of muslim.

    Another observation. The greatest rage against Indian conservative Sunnis that I see in India is among Keralite nonmuslims. There is also a great deal of angst among Tamilians at the Arab Pakistani backed conservative Sunni muslims in Tamil Nadu.

    There are frequent attacks against Sufis and nonmuslims by Islamists in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. A top Sufi leader in Kerala was recently assasinated.

    If you have Tamilian friends, ask them about it.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Is there concern among Indian Britons that their rising socio-economic success will lead to a zenophobic racist dangerous backlash against them? Including from the Labor party?

    Are Indian Britons allying with Chinese Britons and Jewish Britons? Together can they take on and defeat the Corbyn wing of the Labour party?

  10. Razib, I don’t think you know much about British politics. British Sikhs do not vote Tories, they’re mostly Labour voters. Incidentally, British Hindus are Tories, but they were also overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the EU. British SIkhs, while mostly Labour voters were actually more than 50% in favour of Brexit. I don’t see how any of this has anything to do with Islamophilia. British Pakistanis vote 25% in favour of the Tories, and 60% in favour of Labour. So a large Tory Pakistani minority also exists.

    I’m sure the reasons for all this can be explained, but don’t make claims about Hindus, Sikhs, and Jews being Tory because of suspicion to Islamophlia. I’m sure you could justify that based on some circumstantial evidence, but for the most part there’s no basis for what you’re saying.

    Anecdotally, the relations between all these groups are favourable.

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