Leading think tank Policy Exchange has announced the launch of a new research unit specifically focused on understanding the social attitudes, aspirations and cultural differences of the UK’s Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) communities.
The unit’s inaugural project will research the political attitudes of BME communities. It will investigate how these attitudes are formed, how they are applied during elections, and how they are likely to shift over time, looking in detail at issues such as the life experience of BME voters and how they differ from the rest of the population, including within their own communities. The project will try to understand the basic life experiences of these different communities, examining whether there is a mismatch between overall attitudes to politics and policies and how these people actually vote in elections and why.
The unit will be led by Rishi Sunak who has a longstanding interest in education reform. He previously worked with the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education to bring new technology into schools. Sara Rajeswaran will be the deputy head of the unit. She was previously Chief of Staff to Sir David Higgins, Chief Executive Officer of Network Rail.
Rishi Sunak, head of the BME Research Unit at Policy Exchange, said, “Few attempts have been made to really understand Britain’s ethnic minority communities. There is a tendency amongst many in the media and Westminster to assume that Britain’s BME communities can be treated as a single political entity – as if all of Britain’s ethnic minorities held similar views and had similar lives. Anyone with even a basic understanding of the issue knows that this is not the case. There are very significant differences between BME communities – both in terms of religious beliefs, and in terms of issues like educational attainment and life experience.
“There are said to be 300 different languages spoken in London, representing the hugely diverse nature of BME communities. Clearly, those families that have come from China are going to be very different from those that come from Eastern Europe, or from West Africa. According to Department for Education figures. for example, Chinese pupils outperform all others at GCSE level, followed by Indian pupils, while Pakistani pupils do less well. Credibly, there can be no single “BME community”.”