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British politics

The triumph of Tory diversity

A mixed bunch: the five remaining Tory leadership contenders. Getty

Fed up with Boris Johnson? Well, you can be sure of one thing, says Yasmeen Serhan in The Atlantic: the next prime minister won’t look anything like him. Of 10 people on the original candidates list, half were from ethnic minorities and half were women. No credible white male candidate remains. It might seem odd to find this in a right-of-centre party, given the left’s “perceived patent on diversity and multiculturalism”. But the truth is Britain’s Conservatives have a near-monopoly on political firsts, including the first Jewish PM (Benjamin Disraeli), the first female PM (Margaret Thatcher) and the first non-white chancellor and home secretary (Sajid Javid in both cases). According to Sunder Katwala, director of the British Future think tank, this Tory field represents “probably the most ethnically diverse contest for party leadership that has been seen in any major party in any democracy”. The party’s grassroots members may still be overwhelmingly white, but there’s no question they would happily vote for an Asian or black candidate. “The only people who doubt that are liberal progressives.”

David Cameron got more than he bargained for when he kicked off his party’s diversity drive in 2010, says Charles Moore in The Spectator. Most of the new ethnic minority MPs who arrived in parliament gravitated to the party’s right wing. But this “should not be surprising”. Many have grown up in a world where “the left claims to speak for them”, which they resent. They find Britain a more “free and accepting country” than the one they or their parents left, cherish its economic opportunities, and tend to be “more religious and family-oriented than indigenous whites”. Their patriotic optimism is more appealing to voters than the non-stop “stream of grievance” we hear from their counterparts on the left, like Diane Abbott. Better yet, while white Conservatives often feel they are “fighting a losing battle”, ethnic-minority Conservatives have high hopes of “owning the future”. Margaret Thatcher turned the “disadvantage” of her sex into a winner. The current crop of top Tories are “doing the same with their ethnicity”.