Parliamentary Affairs 68(1) pp 154-181

Using mixed methods this paper explores issue salience and the policy framing associated with the substantive representation of ethnic minorities. Its focus is party programmes in Westminster (1964–2010) and Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish elections (1998–2011). The analysis reveals a significant increase in issue salience driven by parties of the Left. This applies to both state-wide and meso-elections, thereby providing evidence of political reprioritisation in the wake of ethnic minority activism in the 1970s and 1980s. At the meso-level new political opportunity structures are shown to be leading to the territorialisation of policy. However, the analysis also reveals significant shortcomings, including parties’ failure to adopt a systematic approach consistent with the post-1997 discourse on mainstreaming.