Ethnic minorities in focus in British election race
Feeling "surrounded" by ethnic minorities, retired factory worker Peter Harvey voted for Britain's anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP) in last month's European and local polls and plans to do so again in next year's national election.
"I'm the only white British person in my area," the 66-year-old said, explaining his voting preference in Grays, a town in southeast England, where UKIP did particularly well amid spectacular gains across the country.
Ostensibly fuelled by antipathy to immigration and Europe, UKIP's rise has nonetheless helped bring the issue of race to the fore ahead of the May 2015 general election.
At the same time, there is a growing realisation of the importance of the ethnic minority vote, as studies show the numbers of black and Asian Britons growing at a faster rate than whites.
Adding to anxiety among many British voters is the influx of immigrants from eastern Europe under European Union rules allowing the free movement of workers, reinforcing UKIP's anti-EU, anti-immigrant message.
Appealing to UKIP voters on immigration while harnessing the ethnic minority vote will be tricky for Britain's mainstream parties, especially in polarised Thurrock, a bellwether constituency that has tended to give winning parties only a slim majority.