Sikh community starts preparation for General Election and gives notice to political parties
London – 7 September 2022
The annual National Sikh Convention organised by the Sikh Federation (UK) is taking place at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Smethwick this weekend and comes at an interesting time in terms of politics in the UK.
Following Boris Johnson’s resignation Liz Truss has become Prime Minister this week and has a new Cabinet that faces some massive challenges, like energy costs and the cost of living crisis, spiralling inflation, the war in Ukraine and the possibility of a trade war with EU countries over the Northern Ireland protocol.
The Sikh Federation (UK) will signal on Sunday 11 September, the final day of the Convention that it has started preparations for the General Election and will give notice to political parties.
The 15,000 expected to take part in the three-day Convention will be told the government under new leadership and the departure of Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and other senior figures gives the Conservatives an opportunity to address several key issues that have been neglected and mend fences with the Sikh community in the run up to the next General Election.
The Sikh Federation (UK) has written to Liz Truss congratulating her, the need to hit the reset button in terms of Sikh community engagement and highlighting some of the key community issues that need to be addressed. These include seeking the immediate release and return to the UK of Jagtar Singh Johal who has been tortured and held in arbitrary detention in an Indian jail for nearly 5 years.
Other issues are for the government to acknowledge and take actions to address anti-Sikh hate where Home Office figures to be released next month are expected to show a massive four-fold increase in attacks against Sikhs that we predicted a year ago. Tackling discrimination and inequalities against members of the Sikh community, linked in a large part to the Sikh identity in another area where progress could be made.
The Sikh Federation (UK) has also written to Keir Starmer reminding him of some of his promises and that of his party and not to take the Sikh vote for granted. The Federation has kept the Labour Leader informed of the strategy the Sikh community has been developing for the next General Election.
The Labour Leader has been told by the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) this week that discussions have started with other minority communities over the Summer on a voting strategy for the next General Election. A coalition between different communities could mean they hold the balance of power to decide the outcome in 60-80 constituencies in the next General Election that Labour hope to win or retain.
If the Labour Party is to form the next government it will need to take this strategy seriously and engage with community demands and expectations. Those gathered will be told by Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) that political parties will not be allowed to ignore or pay lip-service to British Sikhs and the issues we raise.
More difficult messages that will be shared at the Convention will be the need for Britain to deal with its colonial past, including the mess it left 75 years ago during Partition and the creation of India and Pakistan at the expense of the Sikh Nation. The UK Government must also address historic injustices and the current negativity towards British Sikh activism driven by the desires of the current right wing Indian Government.
The organisers will urge the current and future UK Governments to show greater courage and work with other nations to take a tough public stance against the right-wing Indian authorities and not turn a blind-eye. The. UK Government must work with like-minded countries to publicly oppose the right wing Indian Government where they promote extremism and discrimination and perpetrate human rights abuses against minorities knowing that the political opposition to the right wing BJP government is very weak.
Those in attendance will be told the Indian authorities are increasingly worried with the growing support for Sikh independence across the globe, including in India itself. The Convention will be used to promote a two-stranded approach across the globe of highlighting the benefits of Sikh independence and the dangers of the direction of travel by right wing Indian political leaders.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) speaking before the Convention said:
“We will be sending a clear message to political parties at the Convention that we have started our preparations for the General Election.
A year ago we began a campaign to have Priti Patel removed as Home Secretary for her anti-Sikh actions. Her resignation at the start of this week before she was fired by Liz Truss has been widely welcomed by the Sikh community.
The government and opposition parties need to hit the reset button in terms of engagement with grassroots Sikh organisations and address some of our key concerns.
We are putting in place a voting strategy with other minority communities that all political parties need to take seriously as we can have a major influence on the outcome of the next General Election.”
Jaspal Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)