Black and ethnic minority votes may decide 100 seats in the UK

Black and ethnic minority votes may decide 100 seats in the UK London: Black and ethnic minority (BME) voters may play a key role in deciding the formation of the next British government as they will have a decisive say in 100 of the 646 constituencies in the UK.

Operation Black Vote, the campaign to address the under-representation of ethnic minorities in politics, said seats such as Finchley and Golders Green, held by Labour with a slender margin as a result of boundary changes, show the BME's clout in the north London constituency.

Other key seats include Solihull, Crawley, Battersea, Harlow, Bradford West, Ealing North, Birmingham Yardley and Hove.

Simon Woolley, OBV's director, told the Guardian: "Never before in British history have our communities been so strategically well placed and mobilised to push for an agenda of racial justice."

With the election expected to be very close with the latest poll in Mirror projecting a 5-point lead to Conservatives (Conservatives 35 per cent, Labour 30 per cent and Liberal Democrats 21 per cent), race equality should be a priority, a coalition of BME organisations stated today.

Dave Weaver, chair of the 1990 Trust, the national black organisation set up to protect the interests of Britain's black communities, said: "Black Britons are third-class citizens in a country that claims to have a first-class democracy.

"This manifesto calls for racial equality to be considered central to achieving a cohesive and successful economy. We will distribute this to every black and minority ethnic community in the UK," Weaver said.

"Furthermore we can demonstrate that tackling racism is not only right in a moral sense, it's also an imperative for a successful economic recovery."

Karen Chouhan, of Equanomics UK said: "The poverty and unemployment levels in BME communities are staggering. It is gross that in this context ?850 billion has bailed out the banks."