Is Corbyn playing 'divisive 'politics with British Indians?
Jeremy Corbyn has always courted controversy. He's cloaked himself under the veil of justice, human rights and fighting for the underdog. But has he pushed a step too far with the British Indian community, who this year feel betrayed by a political party which like most immigrant communities, saw themselves as naturally aligned to the Labour Party?
One of Labour's safest Labour seat this year has a vacancy after 32 years. Keith Vaz, who had a majority of 22,428 for Leicester East, has been forced to step down after his skeletons from the closet had been unearthed.
Leicester East's constituents are primarily non-white representing around two-thirds of the community. Approximately half of the constituents are Asian with almost a third of them being of Hindu faith and others of Muslim and Sikh faith. It was assumed that a local candidate of India origin, of which there are plenty, should take the mantle of this highly successful area. But to the dismay of many Jeremy Corbyn went for his friend Claudia Webbe.
Ms Webbe did grow up in the city but has spent her working career outside the region. She is currently a councillor in Jeremy Corbyn's constituency of the London Borough of Islington. The Chairman of a constituency Labour party (CLP) in Leicester, John Thomas has resigned saying the process of selection was 'fix' and 'not democratic'. His resignation letter he stated that he "can no longer follow the clown that leads" the party.
The Labour Party is risking one of its safest seats by not listening to the British Indian community. Sundip Meghani, who lost the battle to be the Labour candidate, has accused the party of nepotism. He argues that it sends out the wrong message and is an insult to the local community.
He said: "It sends the wrong message entirely and is an insult to the people I come from. It shows just how little the Labour party values and respects the Indian community, particularly Hindus and Sikhs."
It is expected that this election will see the highest number of ethnic minority candidates standing for election, yet the Labour Party has just chosen one candidate of Indian origin in 39 safe Labour seats and no Indian origin candidates in 100 target seats. There are five Labour MPs of Indian origin who are seeking re-election.
According to the Labour Friends of India, over 50% of Indians voted for the Labour Party in the 2017 General Election. The Labour Party has enjoyed loyal support from the community, yet they are showing little loyalty in return.
Nav Mishra standing in Stockport is likely to be the only new British Indian origin MP for the Labour Party, and with Keith Vaz out of the picture, there will be zero increase in the number of Indian origin MPs.
Labour Friends of India further added that "despite NEC panels shortlisting or even selecting candidates in areas with a large Indian community such as Leicester, Ealing, Ilford, West Bromwich and Derby, no Indian origin candidates were selected. Despite making representations on this matter, our calls have been ignored."
The relation between the Indian community and the Labour Party were already at an all-time low after the party has passed an emergency motion on Kashmir at the annual Labour Party conference. It is senseless that Jeremy Corbyn wants to interfere with another country's internal issue, yet when President Trump mentions his views about British the British General Election, he accused the Americans of interfering.
Whilst he talks about human rights abuses in Kashmir, he refuses to acknowledge the human rights issues relating to the Uighurs in China and other minorities in the world including the Hindus in Pakistan. And when British Indians do stand up against the Labour stance, the community is getting accused of getting swayed by sources within the Indian Government. When in fact it was the Indian businesses based in the UK who wanted the Labour Party to back off issues relating to the sub-continent.
An analysis carried by the British Future think tanks suggests that there can be a record number of 67 ethnic minority MPs after the elections if each party holds the constituencies it held in the last election. The number of ethnic minority MPs at that time was also at a record number at 52. Such a result would see 19 new ethnic minority MPs – 14 Labour, 4 Conservatives and one Liberal Democrat.
In terms of faith, there are currently 8 Hindu MPs of which 5 are Conservative and 3 from Labour. There are 15 Muslim, 2 Sikhs and 24 Jewish MPs. In terms of party preference, there is already a skew that the Conservative Party boasts more of the Hindu MPs and Labour has a strong affiliation to the Muslim community. This trend is likely to continue, and perhaps steeply. Many British Indian activists have campaigned for their communities to 'not' vote for Labour. And this with an already sour relationship with the Jewish community, Jeremy Corbyn has been divisive to ethnic communities, and not the healer of human rights that he makes out to be. Further, he has empowered the extremist elements within his party which now seems to be controlling the agenda. Common sense has gone out of the window.
There is inevitably going to be a fallout from Jeremy Corbyn perceived anti-India stance. But whether this will be British Indians taking heed and punishing the Labour Party will be decided on 12th December. Against the odds, if the Labour does come to power, it will have to fix the India-UK relations quickly as one of the fastest developing countries in the world is no longer afraid of its colonial master and sees the Labour interference as irrelevant in the grand scheme of Indian confidence and development. And this
The current British Indian MPs who are hoping for reselection are: -
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Slough, 2017
Preet Gill, Birmingham Edgbaston, 2017
Seema Malhotra, Feltham & Heston, 2011
Valerie Vaz, Walsall South, 2010
Virendra Sharma, Ealing Southall 2007
Lisa Nandy, Wigan 2010
Suella Fernandes, Fareham 2015
Rishi Sunak, Richmond 2015
Priti Patel, Witham, 2010
Alok Sharma, Reading West 2010
Shailesh Vara, North West Cambridgeshire 2005