British Sikhs look forward to working with a Labour Government over the next decade
London – 15 September 2023
The Sikh Federation (UK) is marking its 20th anniversary with a 3-day convention at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Smethwick that started earlier today. It has been reported that the Convention is expected to attract around 15,000 Sikhs over the weekend.
The Sikh Federation (UK) is often referred to as the first and only Sikh “political party”. The organisation over the last two decades has become the largest and most influential campaigning Sikh organisation in the UK that leads on political engagement for the British Sikh community.
Speeches will be made on the final day of the annual convention on Sunday 17 September when thousands of Sikhs from across the UK will be attending. The convention will also be televised ensuring it reaches hundreds of thousands of Sikhs. It may be the last annual convention before the next General Election.
Those gathered on Sunday will be told Rishi Sunak has failed to restore the Conservative’s standing with the public and the Conservatives are facing defeat in the next General Election as inflation has made it harder for millions to make ends meet.
Rishi Sunak has since he became PM alienated the vast majority of British Sikhs by unashamedly targeting the community. He has allowed his personal prejudice to abuse his position by either snubbing Sikhs and more recently engaged in demonisation Sikh activists to appease India.
As we have seen with his first trip to India as the British PM, he has been unable to defend British values and democratic rights when it comes to Sikhs, such as freedom of expression and the right to peacefully protest. Sadly he was also very reluctant, but was forced to raise the arbitrary detention of Jagtar Singh Johal in an Indian jail for the last six years.
The Sikh Federation (UK) will announce the political engagement strategy for the British Sikh community for the next General Election. The strategy assumes a Labour Government that could be in power for at least 10 years. At the next General Election the number of Sikh MPs in a Labour Government is expected to increase from two who are both Shadow Ministers to nine. Sikh candidates have been selected in existing Labour seats in Derby, Huddersfield, Ilford and Southampton and seats they are expected to win in Bolton, Loughborough and Wolverhampton.
Several of the nine will be speaking at the convention on issues a Labour Government will address, including better political representation of Sikhs. Pressure will however be on Keir Starmer when he becomes Prime Minister to deliver on his promise and immediately address under representation of Sikhs representing Labour in the House of Lords.
Other areas where the Labour leadership has already made a commitment are recognising and addressing anti-Sikh hate crimes, the release and return of Jagtar Singh Johal to be with his family in Scotland and an independent public inquiry into UK involvement in the events of June 1984 as well as anti-Sikh measures in the 1980s and 1990s by the Tories against the British Sikh community.
Labour Sikh MPs and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates have indicated they are also hopeful a Labour Government can also deliver a statutory Code of Practice on the Sikh articles of faith, officially recognise the 1984 Sikh Genocide and working with other governments take this forward on the global stage.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
“The wider public and the Sikh community are fed up with the Conservatives and want a change after 13 years.”
“Sadly the Conservative government is now all about Indian appeasement at the expense of the British Sikh minority.”
“We need a strong Labour government with Sikh representation prepared to publicly lead condemnation of the Indian government’s systematic discrimination and promotion of violence towards religious and other minorities in India.”
“Governments are currently reassessing their relationship with India given the move towards an autocracy, the threat presented by the Hindutva ideology, increasing political interference abroad and highly protectionist policies making it difficult to do trade.”
“We have seen developments in the last two or three years, especially with the massive farmers protest that was led by Sikhs that has resulted in governments seeing the benefits of Sikh activism and an independent Sikh homeland.”
“We are confident a Sikh homeland will come about with the break-up of India and Pakistan well before they reach their centenary.”
ENDS Jaspal Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)