British Future Survey challenged on how Sikhs voted in UK elections

Research and report that Conservatives received 1 million ethnic minority votes unreliable

London – 25 May 2015

The Sikh Federation (UK) has been in constant communication with Sunder Katwala of British Future and Survation why there sample of 2,000 ethnic minority voters only had responses from 63 Sikh voters.

They have been unable to explain why only 63 Sikhs responded when around 300 would have been expected if there sample was representative given the size of the voting population of Sikhs being around 500,000. British Future and Survation are no doubt worried given pollsters misled everyone prior to the General Election.

It as been suggested the sample of 2,000 is not representative at least as far as Sikhs are concerned. Many media outlets have today quoted the results of the survey commissioned by British Future which appears unreliable. A Sikh Federation (UK) spokesman said:

‘We are clear they did not stratify there sample and are unable to reach a specific conclusion about Sikhs with any statistical confidence’.

‘We have provided them with our results from a sample of 1,000 Sikh voters which gives a very different conclusion.’

The Press Release below has been shared with them along with details of the Sikh Federation (UK) survey. A list of the 190 constituencies covered and numbers of voters in each constituency that has been sampled (in summary form), the overall results (shown below), the gender and age profile of respondents etc.

Overall results

Labour 496 49.6%
Conservatives 356 35.6%
Liberal Democrats 62 6.2%
UKIP 25 2.5%
Greens 40 4.0%
Other 21 2.1%


413 Sikh voters from 32 constituencies (10 or more voters)

336 Sikh voters from 56 other constituencies (5 to 9 voters)

251 Sikh voters from remaining 102 constituencies

Gender breakdown: 54% men, 46% women.

Age breakdown:

18-25 – 15%

26-35 – 24%

36-50 – 35%

50+ – 26%

Source: Sikh Federation UK
Earlier Press Release
London – 25 May 2015

The Sikh Federation (UK) has brought forward release of data on how Sikhs voted at the General Election on 7 May as misleading information has emerged from research by British Future that has suggested 49% of Sikhs may have voted Conservative. The 2,000 strong survey of ethnic minorities by Survation on behalf of British Future only had responses from 63 Sikh voters.

The Sikh Federation (UK) survey of 1,000 Sikh voters from across the UK carried out following the General Election that is being used to plan the Federation’s political strategy over the next five years shows Labour secured just under 50% of the Sikh vote, while the Conservatives increased their vote share to around 36% from 15% in 2010.

The Sikh Federation (UK) conducted three pulse surveys of 1,500 Sikh voters prior to the General Election in early January, towards the end of March and early May. These pulse surveys were in 50 constituencies that Labour hoped to gain. This showed the Conservatives had a much better campaign in the run up to the election in attracting Sikh voters. However, the pulse surveys also showed 35% of Sikh voters in these constituencies were undecided on the eve of the 7 May vote.

The post election survey indicating how 1,000 Sikhs voted across the UK has had responses from 190 constituencies in all English regions, Scotland and Wales. Around 35 constituencies where large numbers of Sikhs live account for 45% of those covered in the survey. The results show some interesting trends and qualitative information collected indicates where Labour may have gone wrong.


Conservatives attracted more Sikh voters by fielding a much greater number of Sikh candidates in areas where large numbers of Sikhs live e.g. Birmingham, Wolverhampton, East Ham and Slough, but where it was difficult to win. In contrast Labour only fielded one Sikh candidate from Gravesham which had a large Conservative majority, but also had a large number of Sikh voters while others were fielded in places like Plymouth, the Cotswold, Kenilworth and East Dunbartonshire. It is therefore hardly surprising there are no Sikh MPs in the Commons as predicted in the Sikh Manifesto published in January 2015.

Whilst many Labour hopefuls were supportive of the vast majority of Sikh issues in the Sikh Manifesto the Labour leadership held back on making any specific pledges, especially in areas where they could demonstrate they were different to the Conservatives i.e. independent public inquiry on UK Government assistance in the June 1984 massacre in Amritsar. Some of the undecided Sikh voters who did not want to vote Conservative for this reason have stated therefore they chose to vote for smaller parties in protest. The survey shows 14% of Sikhs voted for smaller parties like the Liberal Democrats and the Greens and SNP in Scotland. Some Labour candidates in safe seats also did not properly acknowledge and indicate specific support for items in the Sikh Manifesto that resulted in Labour losing votes.

Some stated that like Labour many Conservative hopefuls were supportive of the vast majority of Sikh issues in the Sikh Manifesto. Although the Conservative leadership chose to sidestep the Sikh Manifesto it ran a much better campaign targeting Sikh voters. The Conservatives gained much positive publicity from the Prime Ministers’ visit to the Gurdwara in Gravesend, while the Labour leaders’ visit to Leamington was poorly handled by Labour advisers and officials and proved to be a bit of a disaster. Conservative Central Office was also active in briefing candidates to mention David Cameron’s visit to Sri Harmandir Sahib (often called the Golden Temple) while Ed Miliband failed to make the same trip suggested by the Sikh Federation (UK) at a meeting with the Labour leader in June 2013.

The Conservatives also raised issues such as the possibility of a Sikh regiment in the British Army and pointed to successes in helping on a number of Sikh identity issues in the last five years – respect for the Sikh turban at airports, the right of Amritdhari Sikhs visiting London Olympic venues to wear the Kirpan, extension of the right to wear the turban instead of hard hats in the workplace etc. The Labour leadership could not point to a track record on protecting the Sikh identity and stopped short of making specific pledges in this area.


Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

‘Despite the revelations in January 2014, under the 30-year rule, about UK Government assistance in the attack on Sri Harmandir Sahib in June 1984 the Conservatives have closed the gap on Labour in terms of the percentage of the Sikh vote.’

‘In the next five years the Conservative government has an opportunity to work with us on delivering items in the Sikh Manifesto, such as separate ethnic monitoring of Sikhs, a site in central London to build a monument to mark Sikh sacrifices in the First World War and Code of Practice relating to the Sikh identity.’

‘The new Labour leadership will have to take a good hard look at itself in terms of the Sikh vote if it is to stop and reverse this trend of losing Sikh votes. The lack of any Labour Sikh representation in the Commons (for the next five years) and in the House Lords needs to be urgently addressed. For 2020 Labour will need to identify safe seats for suitable Sikh candidates and field more Sikh candidates where large numbers of Sikhs live.’

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

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