Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2024

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James Kanagasooriam


BEST-KNOWN for coining the phrase, ‘Red Wall’, James Kanagasooriam is one of Britain’s most closely watched pollsters and political commentators. He works for research company, Focaldata where he is chief research officer. The ‘Red Wall’ phrase came into common parlance pretty much after the 2019 election which saw Boris Johnson win an 80 plus seat majority. Conservative MPs won in seats traditionally – and long held – by Labour.

Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit Done’ slogan had played out well in many of these Leave sup porting areas which had suffered long years of industrial decline and were looking for something different. Most agree that this time round – whenever a General Election is held – that these so termed ‘Red Wall’ Conservative MPs are extremely vulnerable. Ironically in 2021, the outlook was somewhat different with Kanagasooriam and Elizabeth Simon predicting that in the longer term these seats might not just stay Conservative but even become safe seats. The larger argument made in a study for the Political Studies Association suggested that historic shifts were taking place – significant sec tions of the workingclass vote were already tilting towards the Tories ahead of Labour, in a post-Brexit environment. In more recent musings, Kanagasooriam al so noted the Green vote was also rising. In an article for The Times this year, Kanagasooriam asserted Hindus increasingly support the Conservative Party, while Muslims back Labour – though the differences are quite wide – for Hindus the split is just 45-35 in favour of the Tories, but among Muslims, it is 72- 11 in favour of Labour.

Include Chinese origin voters and the tilt towards the Tories is more similar (40-37); while Britain’s black communities still tended to favour Labour two or three to one. He said Pakistani, Bangladeshi and black African origin identifying voters thought

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