No Sikhs in new UK parliament – BBC

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BBC | London, UK  | Asia Samachar |14 May 2015

 

Paul Uppal (left) with his Conservative Party boss David Cameron. Paul lost in the 2015 elections. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PAUL UPPAL WEBSITE
Paul Uppal (left) with his Conservative Party boss David Cameron. Paul lost in the 2015 elections. – PHOTO COURTESY OF PAUL UPPAL WEBSITE

No Sikhs have been elected to Parliament for the first time since 1992. The only serving Sikh MP in the previous Parliament, Conservative Paul Uppal of Wolverhampton South West, lost his seat to Labour, reports the BBC (12 May 2015).

The Sikh Council UK, a representative body of British Sikhs, said the outcome was a “significant concern” and a “step backwards” for the community, the report adds.

A total of 20 Sikh candidates (six Conservative, five Labour, five UKIP, two Liberal Democratic, one Green and one National Liberal Party) stood as parliamentary candidates – but all were unsuccessful.

“Sikhs are a community that are well settled in every geographic part of the UK and are well represented in every aspect of UK society other than as elected representatives,” it quoted council spokesman Gurinder Singh.

Britain is home to between 600,000 and 800,000 Sikhs, with about 500,000 eligible to vote. Sikhs form part of a politically active community with an estimated two in three people voting in the 2010 general election, it adds.

The Sikh Council UK is the largest representative body of Sikhs in the UK, according to information on its website.

It adds that it is recognised as the national advocate for British Sikhs in the United Kingdom and at the European Union.  Amongst its affiliated member organisations we have gurdwaras, local & regional gurdwara councils, jathebandis, campaign groups, youth organisations, women’s organisations and educational establishments.

THE REST OF THE BBC REPORT:

In the tightly contested marginal seat of Wolverhampton South West, Mr Uppal lost his seat to Labour’s Rob Marris by 801 votes.

Mr Uppal feels the lack of Sikh representation means it could become more difficult for the community to push forward important causes.

“It’s an issue of sadness for the community as a whole. There were many Sikh issues I worked on. When I was newly elected, I suggested the PM celebrate Vaisakhi at 10 Downing Street to recognise the contribution of British Sikhs in this country.

“The fact that there is no Sikh MP in government is actually quite sad. We won’t have a voice in the centre of power.

“You need someone from a Sikh background to convey the correct message; it’s a shame that we don’t have that presence.”

Mr Uppal is also concerned that the wider political establishment will suffer because of the lack of a Sikh voice in Parliament.

“With all the best will in the world, unless you have someone who genuinely has that community experience I just think the political process is the poorer for it.”

Friday’s election result saw a record number of ethnic minorities voted into parliament, 42 in total; but it is of great disappointment to many that none of them come from a Sikh background.

However, Harmander Singh, principal adviser to campaign group Sikhs in England, does not think the lack of representation necessarily matters,

“I do not believe that because there are no Sikh MPs that Sikhs’ issues will be lost,” he said.

“There are appropriate political mechanisms to get all issues examined”.

He added: “I think all MPs are swayed by party issues, but on a personal basis they take all constituent issues importantly. I am not dismayed by the lack of Sikh MPs in Parliament”.

ORIGINAL  STORY, go here.

 

[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

 

 

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