Tories 'ignore' ethnic minorities as they fret over Ukip

Efforts to recruit more diverse candidates have been shelved in favour of chasing 'core Conservative voters'

The rise of Ukip has diverted the Conservative Party from efforts to widen its appeal to Britons from ethnic minority backgrounds, a black Tory activist claimed yesterday.

Samuel Kasumu said the switch of emphasis to recovering "core Conservative voters" lost to Ukip had undermined attempts to produce dozens of ethnic minority candidates and "brand ambassadors" by the next election. The complaint comes after it emerged that the Prime Minister's only black, working-class adviser had been moved out of Downing Street, reportedly after being "frozen out" by Mr Cameron's "clique" of Old Etonian aides.

Shaun Bailey, who worked as a special adviser on youth, crime and race issues, was moved to a part-time role in the Cabinet Office earlier this year. The Daily Telegraph claimed he had told friends he was excluded from Mr Cameron's inner circle because he was "different" and repeatedly asked difficult questions about the Government's priorities.

Mr Kasumu, founder of the youth employment charity Elevation Networks and a member of the Tory Reform Group, stood down last month from his role helping the Conservative Party to boost the representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The One Nation Leadership mentoring programme, run by the Conservative MP and vice-chairman Alok Sharma, was intended to sign up to 30 people as activists or candidates every year. By 2015, there were supposed to be up to 60 Tory "brand ambassadors" from ethnic minority backgrounds, but it has not yet been officially launched.

Mr Kasumu, 25, said he was disappointed with the pace of progress. He added: "I fear that it is too late to get enough candidates in place for 2015. The rise of Ukip has distracted the party from this, so the Conservative Party is going for core Conservative voters who have switched to Ukip. Some would argue that appealing to them is more important than doing something to broaden the party's appeal. I am not sure there was enough from the leadership to really move things along."

Mr Cameron triggered renewed efforts to increase support among black and Asian voters last year, amid growing concerns that the party's unpopularity within minority ethnic communities could cost seats at the next general election.

But the drive to diversify the party's appeal has been overshadowed by complaints that the Prime Minister is creating a "chumocracy" inside No 10 by surrounding himself with fellow Old Etonians, after the appointment of Boris Johnson's brother Jo to head the Downing Street Policy Unit. Mr Cameron's chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, was also educated at the top public school.

Following the surge by Ukip, led by self-declared "ordinary bloke" Nigel Farage, at the local elections earlier this month, Mr Cameron is under renewed pressure to demonstrate that his party appeals to all voters, not just an elite.

Tory insiders say that, despite the friend of Mr Bailey telling the Telegraph "you can see from space that the place is dominated by those from Eton", there are a number of state-school educated people in No 10.

Sam Gyimah, the black Conservative MP for East Surrey and the Prime Minister's parliamentary private secretary, was educated at a state school, although he went on to Oxford. A friend of Mr Bailey said it was the difference in his background, rather than race, that would have contributed to the former adviser feeling excluded from the No 10 circle.

Mr Bailey, who failed in an attempt to become Conservative MP for Hammersmith at the last election, is understood to be interested in a seat in 2015. He was unavailable for comment yesterday. But on Friday evening, as the allegations about his Downing Street experience emerged, he tweeted: "Very happy with my move to the Cabinet Office. The PM's office have treated me well."

It was followed, 12 hours later, by another tweet: "I want to be clear I have no problem with the PM. He has always supported me."

A No 10 source said the messages made clear that the adviser was not critical of Mr Cameron or his office. The claim by a friend of Mr Bailey that, when asked by the US polling expert Frank Luntz what kept them awake, advisers had said nothing –before one of them said "school fees" – was a "ridiculous caricature" of people who work in Downing Street, the source added.

Cameron to hold Syria talks with Obama

David Cameron flies to the US today for his first meeting with Barack Obama since the President won a second term in office. The two men will hold talks on Syria and the agenda for the G8 meeting, which the Prime Minister hosts in Northern Ireland next month.

Mr Cameron is putting in thousands of air miles in diplomatic "pitch-rolling" ahead of his first hosting of a G8 summit as Prime Minister. Mr Cameron and other leaders will hold talks in New York on Tuesday.

The agenda for the G8 summit in Fermanagh, is still being finalised, but Mr Cameron is under pressure to coordinate meaningful action, rather than mere tough words, on ending the bloodshed in Syria. Last week he flew to the Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Following the meeting with Syria's closest ally, Mr Cameron said he had held purposeful talks with the Russian leader but warned: "The history of Syria is being written in the blood of her people."

Mr Cameron will return to the UK on Thursday, avoiding the difficult Commons vote on Europe in which he is allowing Tory MPs a free vote, while ordering ministers to abstain.

Jane Merrick

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
Life and Style
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions