Indians in British/ UK politics

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Indians in British politics

2015: Indian-origin voters

The Times of India

May 26 2015

Kounteya Sinha

Up to a million ethnic minority votes helped put David Cameron back into Downing Street.

Indian-origin voters played kingmaker in UK polls: Survey

In what was a historic swing never seen before in a British parliamentary election, the country's ethnic minority communities including the enormous Indian population played the king maker that saw Cameron become PM for the second time with a clear majorit.

The Conservatives won a majority as a result of one million ethnic minority votes, research by British Future think tank has found.Nearly 6,15,000 Indian-origin voters were expected to vote in the May 7 elections 2015. It found much higher support for the Conservatives among Asian voters this year with 50% in favour of Cameron's party and only 38% supporting Labour. Cameron's visits to Indian temples and promises of giving the country its first PM of Asian origin in the near future reaped rich results. The first post-election analysis reveals that 1 in every 3 of ethnic minority voters supported the Conservatives in 2015, a stronger result than ever before for the party which has historically struggled to appeal to non-white voters.

With 3 million ethnic mi nority voters taking part in the election, the results equate to the Conservatives securing one million ethnic minority votes for the first time in the party's history.

Around 49% of the Hindu votes went to the Conservative Party while 41% went to Labour. Cameron had worked hard in drawing the Hindu vote, visiting the Swaminarayan temple and accorded it the same status as the Stone henge and the Big Ben.

He promised that if he returns as PM, he would pay a visit to the Akshardham temple in Delhi. He also said that Britain needs to take inspiration from Hinduism if it wants to become better.

He had said, “When I look at the Ramayana and my understanding of the Hindu religion, there's so much that you have to say about the importance of family , the importance of community , the importance of voluntary service -these are all the values that our country needs more of. So, as you celebrate your values, let's make them our values, and let's have more of them in Britain“.

The organization British Future said, “When translated into votes, based on an estimated 3 million ethnic minority voters, the results equate to 1.6 million votes for Labour, with the Conservatives securing one million of these votes for the first time.“ EU citizens will not vote in referendum?

Citizens from most EU countries living in the UK will not get a vote in the referendum on Europe. Around 45.3 million people will be eligible to take part in the referendum to decide whether Britain should remain in the European Union. PM David Cameron's office has made it clear that citizens from most EU countries living in the UK will not be included in th e referendum, which keeps almost a million Europeans living in UK banned from voting -a significant boost to Eurosceptic campaigners. Irish citizens and those from two other EU nations -Malta and Cyprus -will be allowed to vote along with others from the Commonwealth countries. This means that Britain's Indian community will play a major role in the results. The UK electoral database puts Indian-born population as the largest foreign-born group in the country.

2019: 3 Indian-origin MPs in cabinet

Naomi Canton, July 26, 2019: The Times of India

Leading figures in the Indian diaspora in Britain have welcomed the strong “desi” focus of the new UK government, which has the most Indian-origin members and is the most ethnically diverse cabinet in British history as well as a prime minister with strong Indian ties.

Johnson, who has been married to his half-Indian wife, Marina Wheeler, for 26 years and is a frequent traveller to India, gave three cabinet positions to MPs of Indian origin.

Priti Patel, 47, was given the prestigious job of home secretary, making her the most senior Indian-origin MP ever in a British government. Alok Sharma, 51, previously minister of state for employment, was elevated to the role of secretary of state for international development.

The son-in-law of Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy, UK-born Rishi Sunak, 39, was promoted to chief secretary to the treasury and will attend cabinet.

June 2017: 12 Indian-origin MPs in House

Naomi Canton, June 10, 2017: The Times of India

12 Indian-origin MPs in House, Keith Vaz returns for 8th term

A record 12 Indian-origin MPs won seats in the House of Commons after a tense night in which no party won a majority . All 10 sitting Indian-origin MPs held on to their constituencies whilst two Indian-origin first-timers made it to the House.

International development secretary Priti Patel, 45, of Ugandan-Gujarati heritage, retained her seat in Witham, a working-class heartland, with a comfortable majority of 18,646.Agra-born Alok Sharma, 49, former minister for AsiaPacific, clung on to Reading West in a tight race against Labour, but saw his majority slashed to 2,876 from 6,650.

Rishi Sunak, 37, son-inlaw of Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy , swept to a resounding victory in wealthy rural Richmond in Yorkshire with an increased majority of 23,108. Suella Fernandes, 37, held on to Fareham with a slightly reduced majority of 21,555 and Conservative backbencher Shailesh Vara, 56, kept his North West Cambridgeshire seat with a majority of 18,008.

Labour, too, kept its five Indian-origin MPs. Britain's longest-serving British Asian MP , Keith Vaz, 60, had no problem holding onto Leicester East with an increased majority of 22,428, fending off two Indian-origin candidates, Sujata Barot and Nitesh Dave. Vaz's sister, 62-year-old Valerie Vaz, retained Walsall South with an increased majority of 8,892.

India-born Virendra Sharma also won decisive ly, increasing his majority to 22,090 in Ealing Southall, home to one of the largest South Asian communities.Lisa Nandy , a 37-year-old Bengali, was the only Asian face standing in Wigan in Greater Manchester and she got an increased majority of 16,027.

Seema Malhotra, 44, won Feltham and Heston, an area popular with Punjabis, with an increased majority of 15,603, a constituency she has held since 2011.

Belonging to Jalandar

Naomi Canton & IP Singh, Uncommon feat: Four from Jalandhar make it to House, June 10, 2017: The Times of India

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi known as Tan became the first turbaned Sikh MP and Preet Kaur Gill the first Sikh woman to enter the UK parliament, taking the tally to four Punjabi MPs, all from Labour. Seema Malhotra and Virendra Sharma the two veterans. All have roots in Jalandhar.

Born in Slough, 38-year old Dhesi was the youngest Sikh mayor in Europe, when he was elected to the post in Gravesham in Kent. His father Jaspal Singh, who runs a construction company in the UK, was president of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar at Gravesend for years --built on a 805-acre campus, it's is the largest gurdwara in the UK. Dhesi's village, Raipur, about 15 km from Jalandhar broke into cele brations at news of his win.

Preet Kaur Gill, 44, who was a Labour councillor in Sandwell, won from Birmingham Edgbaston, was the only Asian to contest the Labour-held marginal seat and managed to increase her lead from 2,706 to 6,917 votes. Before becoming a Labour councillor on Sandwell Council, she had worked with vulnerable children and families in Birmingham. The daughter of a bus driver, she was born in Edgbaston. Gill's father Daljit Singh Shergill migrated from Khera village near Jalandhar to the UK in 1962. “She last visited us in February to attend my son's wedding,“ her cousin Avtar Singh, an farmer said. Both Dhesi and Gill are secondgeneration Sikhs in the UK.

The only other country with as many Sikhs in the House is Canada, where all four are ministers.

2017: A record 56 candidates

Naomi Canton: The Times of India, June 7, 2017

Indians in UK politics, as on June 7, 2017; Naomi Canton: The Times of India, June 7, 2017

Most of 10 sitting MPs likely to retain seat; Tory appeal grows among Indian communities

An 18-year-old Alevel candidate, a scholar from Jadavpur University who landed in Britain in 2009 are among the many `desi' faces on the ballot paper as UK votes on Thursday amidst one of the fiercest debates on immigration and minority community in decades.

If a record number of 10 Indian-origin candidates were elected to the British Parliament in 2015, the 2017 snap polls have an impressive number of 56 Indian-origin candidates contesting.

Defending comfortable margins are the Indian-origin veterans, including Priti Patel, Alok Sharma, Keith Vaz, Virendra Sharma and Shailesh Vara, all well-known MPs with sizeable majorities.Though Vaz was embroiled in a prostitution and drugs scandal last year, he is expected to retain his seat with a large majority . Candidates to watch on the night are Paul Uppal, 49, Conservative nominee in Wolverhampton South West. He needs to overturn the 2015 majority of just 801 votes to return to the House of Commons as MP . It will be Labour candidate Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi's first time as MP if he manages to keep the Slough seat, held by Labour's Fiona Mactaggart since 1997. Another Sikh with chances of winning is Kuldip Singh Sahota, 66, a Labour local councillor contesting in Telford. A win in Birmingham Edgbaston will make Labour's Preet Kaur Gill the first Sikh woman MP in the House.

Among interesting debuts is Rohit Dasgupta's, who moved to the UK in 2009 from his native Kolkata. The Labour nominee is running in East Hampshire, a Tory safe seat. The five Indian-origin candidates standing for UKIP are not expected to win any seats as most party supporters are expected to vote Conservative. The Green Party is also not expected to take any seats. The youngest Indian-origin candidate, Arran Rangi, 18, standing for the Green Party in Ashfield, is appearing for his A level exam at 9am on Fri day . “I'll make a brief appear ance at the count,“ he said. “I don't expect to win.“

Rakib Ehsan at Royal Hol loway University who special ises in ethnic minority po litical attitudes, says that for British Indians, it's a two-par ty race between Labour and Tories. “It'll take many more elections for the Lib Dems and Greens to be players in the Asian community .“

Ehsan notes that there “seems to be a huge transfer of votes from Labour,“ and that the Conservatives are likely to win a large chunk of the Indian communities' votes. Within the British Asian population, Indians are more economi cally successful than Pakistanis and Bangladeshis and are more likely to be profession als. Thus, the Conservatives appeal to them more, says Ehsan. British Indians tended to vote Labour in the 1960s and 70s because of Labour's repu tation for anti-discrimination and bringing out the Race Relations Act, but as Indians became economically better off, they have tended to vote Conservative, as in 2015.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor byn's criticism of Narendra Modi over the 2002 Gujarat riots and on Kashmir has also apparently created the impression that Corbyn was “promoting the victimisation of Muslims in India,“ says Ehsan, noting that there's a “feeling that Labour is not tak ing Islamist extremism threat seriously as they're reliant on Muslim votes in inner cities.“

British Indians are able to swing the vote in many marginal seats, he says, a view echoed by Jasvir Singh, founding chair of City Sikhs.

“The ethnic minority vote is greater than the majority's in 50 of the most marginal seats and could make all the differ ence,“ Singh said.

2017: 50% of non-white MPs and Gujarati

Aug 4, 2017: The Times of India

Of the 27 non-white members of the British Parliament, 14 are of Gujarati descent. Non-resident Indians (NRIs) including Gujaratis are at the forefront of all major sectors in the United Kingdom including education, trade and business.

The British government also provides financial aid to diaspora members for learning Gujarati - these were some of the highlights of the speech by C B Patel, a noted British journalist of Gujarati origin at the GCCI hall on Thursday. The event was organized by the NRG Centre. Vishnu Pandya, chairman of Gujarat Sahitya Academy, was another speaker at the event.

"I urge the people of Gujarat and government of Gujarat to improve ties with Britain to facilitate more fruitful interaction," said Patel. In his speech, Pandya spoke of how the stalwarts of the Independence movement spent their formative years in the UK and contributed to Indo-UK ties. He also announced that the academy will soon hold an international Gujarati language conference. K H Patel, chairman of the NRG Centre, said that the UK and India have come closer through a slew of activities in different sectors and Gujarat has benefited immensely from the interaction.

Cabinet ministers

2018: Sajid becomes first ethnic minority, Muslim, home secretary

Naomi Canton, May appoints Pak-origin MP as home secretary, May 1, 2018: The Times of India

Move Comes Amid Immigration Scandal in Britain

British PM Theresa May on Monday appointed a Pakistani-origin politician to the key post of home secretary as the government struggled to contain an immigration scandal. Sajid Javid, a former banker and the son of a Pakistani bus driver who emigrated to Britain in the 1960s, is the “first ethnic minority, first Pakistani-origin and the first Muslim heritage” home secretary.

Javid, 48, was appointed to the key job, hours after predecessor Amber Rudd resigned over her role in what has become known as the Windrush scandal. Rudd on Sunday became the fourth cabinet minister to resign in the past six months over claims that she misled Parliament over whether she was aware of deportation targets for illegal immigrants.

The Windrush scandal erupted during the Commonwealth Summit when concerns were raised that migrants from the Caribbean who have lived in Britain for decades had been refused medical care or threatened with deportation because they couldn’t produce paperwork proving their right to reside in the country.

Javid, previously secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, promised to develop a “fair immigration policy” and help the ‘Windrush generation’ who have been unfairly threatened with deportation by the home office.

On Sunday, in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Javid said his family could have been caught up in the Windrush saga. “I thought that could be my mum... my dad... my uncle... it could be me.”

“I’m a second-generation migrant. My parents came to this country from Pakistan, just like the Windrush generation. They came to this country after the Second World War to help rebuild it… They came from Commonwealth countries… They were asked to come in to (do) work that some people would describe as unattractive — my dad worked in a cotton mill, he worked as a bus driver.”

Javid was born in Rochdale, Lancashire. His parents were born in pre-partition India and had fled to Pakistan and then emigrated to the UK in the 1960s. The high-profile job, considered the most prestigious role in the British cabinet, puts Javid in charge of national security, tackling of crime, fighting terrorism and extremism, and dealing with illegal immigration. In particular, Javid will be in charge of determining the UK’s post-Brexit immigration strategy.

Although high-profile, the role is also known as the “graveyard of politicians” with many ministerial careers coming to an abrupt end there. May is hoping that Javid’s promotion will draw a line under the Windrush saga before local elections are held in the UK on Thursday, when the Conservatives fear losing hundreds of seats.


BJP group supports Tories in 48 key seats

Naomi Canton, Nov 5, 2019: The Times of India

A BJP support group in Britain is campaigning for Conservative Party in 48 marginal seats in the UK general elections on December 12 and telling Indian-origin voters not to vote for Labour.

Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) UK president Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat said on Monday his group had identified 48 Labour-Conservative marginal seats which the British Indian vote could swing and was even trying to oust six Indian-origin Labour MPs.

This is the first time OFBJP has ever extended open support to a party in a UK general election. “We are doing this as some Labour MPs joined the violent protests outside India House on August 15 and September 3. Secondly, no Labour MPs spoke in favour of India on Kashmir in the House of Commons. Also, the Labour passed a motion on Kashmir at their party conference. Why is Labour discussing J&K? We will only support MPs who support us,” Shekhawat said.

‘Labour is opposed to anything India wants to do’

We are working with the Tory candidates in Keith Vaz’s former seat, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi’s seat, Preet Gill’s seat, Lisa Nandy’s seat, Seema Malhotra’s and Valerie Vaz’s seats,” president of the UK wing of Overseas Friends of BJP, Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat, said. All six are Indian-origin Labour MPs.

“We are not supporting them (Labour candidates) because some of them have a Khalistani tag... They do not look at India as a sovereign nation and aren’t doing anything for us. Some of them have even signed letters against India. We will happily support anyone who supports India, including non-Indian origin candidates, against them,” Shekhawat said.

“If the entire Indian community in the UK votes for Tory, we will see a swing of around 40 seats to the Tories. This will swing the actual election result,” he declared. Until now the Indian community in the UK has not voted en bloc — unlike the Pakistan community, which tends to vote as per the directions of Muslim clerics.

The OFBJP has been approaching temples, social groups, and hundreds of Asian community bodies to tell them not to vote Labour. “We have met 37 groups so far and organised meetings in all the possible temples,” Shekhawat said. He said they were supporting just one Labour PIO MP, Virendra Sharma, who represents Ealing Southall, as “he had stood up for the community”.

“With Jeremy Corbyn at the head, Labour is opposed to anything India wants to do. Kashmir was the flashpoint. But anger was building up for months,” Shekhawat said.

The OFBJP has already organised its first “campaign meeting”. They invited 300 Indianorigin constituents on Sunday to meet Tory MP Bob Blackman and candidate Anwara Ali.

Dec elections: 63 Indians in the fray

Dec 2019 elections: 63 Indians were in the fray
From: Naomi Canton, Dec 12, 2019 Times of India

See graphic:

Dec 2019 elections: 63 Indians were in the fray

Several PIO candidates win

Dec 13, 2019 Times Of India

From left to right- Priti Patel, Rishi Sunak, Preet Kaur Gill, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Virendra Sharma, Valerie Vaz
From: Dec 13, 2019 Times Of India

LONDON: Indian-origin candidates across both the Conservative and Labour parties on Friday registered strong results in the UK's general election, with around a dozen MPs retaining their seats alongside some new faces. Prime Minister Boris Johnson clinched an emphatic victory in Thursday's election, setting the UK on course for an exit from the European Union (EU) in the New Year.

All the Indian-origin MPs from the previous Parliament were successful in clinching their seats, with Gagan Mohindra and Claire Coutinho for the Conservative Party and Navendru Mishra for Labour among the first-timers. "Time to Get Brexit Done and get on with investing in our schools, hospitals and police to keep our streets safe," said Goan-origin Coutinho, in reference to the central Conservative Party message which clearly resonated with the voters in the polls.

She won the Surrey East Tory-held seat polling 35,624 votes, with an impressive majority of 24,040 for the party. Mohindra also won his Hertfordshire South West seat decisively with 30,327 votes and a majority of 14,408. The other Tories to return to the Commons with comfortable wins include Priti Patel, the former UK homes secretary who is likely to remain in Johnson's top team in the new Cabinet as well.

“This has been a hard-fought election in a very cold time of the year because we needed a functioning Conservative majority,” said Patel, who polled 32,876 votes at her Witham constituency in Essex and held on to a majority of 24,082 for the party.

“We are committed to deliver on priorities and getting Brexit done is a priority. The deal is there, we want to move forward,” she said.

Her fellow Cabinet colleagues in the previous Johnson-led government also had a good night, with Rishi Sunak – the son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy – clinching 36,693 votes, marking a majority for the Tories of 27,210. Alok Sharma, the former international development minister, polled 24,393 votes to win from Reading West.

Shailesh Vara won his North West Cambridgeshire seat with a solid majority of 25,983, polling 40,307 votes and Goan-origin Suella Braverman clinched Fareham with 36,459 votes, registering a majority of 26,086.

The pro-Brexit MP thanked her constituency team for its “unstinting support” and hard work.

“Great teamwork in the rain, the cold and the dark! All patriots who want to Get Brexit Done with Boris Johnson,” she tweeted soon after the result was declared. The Opposition Labour Party had a disastrous night overall, losing key seats in its heartlands in the north, but for all the Indian-origin MPs from the last Parliament there was a reason to celebrate.

Navendru Mishra bagged 21,695 votes to clinch the Stockport seat and become a first-time MP for the party. Preet Kaur Gill, who had made history in the last election as the first British Sikh female MP, was re-elected from Birmingham Edgbaston with 21,217 votes.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the first turbaned Sikh MP, will also return to the Commons with an impressive 13,640 majority, having polled 29,421 votes from Slough in south-east England and beating Tory Indian-origin rival Kanwal Toor Gill.

Veteran MP Virendra Sharma, who had been under pressure by forces within his own party, had a comfortable win from Ealing Southall with 25,678 votes. The others holding on to their seats included Lisa Nandy who won Wigan with 21,042 votes and Seema Malhotra clinched Feltham and Heston with 24,876 votes.

Valerie Vaz, the sister of scandal-hit former MP Keith Vaz who had stepped down ahead of the election, held on to her Walsall South seat with 20,872 votes, beating Indian-origin Tory candidate Gurjit Bains.

The far-right Brexit Party, which had fielded a number of Indian-origin candidates, failed to make a dent in the election, which marked the biggest win for the Conservatives since the 1980s.

The 15 Indian-origin MPs

Naomi Canton, Dec 14, 2019 Times of India

The UK House of Commons will have a record 15 Indian-origin candidates as four new PIO candidates, including a 23-year-old set to be Britain’s youngest-serving MP, won seats and all 11 PIO MPs fighting for re-election retained their constituencies in the UK’s election on Friday.

The Indian-origin winning candidates include seven from governing Conservative Party and eight from opposition Labour. However, the Labour MPs generally saw their majorities slashed as several fought battles with other Indian-origin candidates.

NEW DESI MPS Gagan Mohindra , 41, swept to victory in Hertfordshire South West. A Hindu born in the UK to Punjabi parents, he has been serving as a councillor and chairman of Essex Conservatives. He replaces David Gauke, a high-profile Tory MP who had held the seat from 2005 but who resigned from the cabinet on July 24 following the Conservative Party leadership election, saying he could not serve under Boris Johnson.

Claire Coutinho , 34, also swept to victory in Surrey East with a majority of 24,040, similar to what the previous incumbent, Sam Gyimah, had in 2017. Coutinho worked for two years as adviser to Rishi Sunak, chief secretary to the treasury. An Oxford graduate, she started her career in banking, working on a trading floor where there were just eight women out of 200 people. She voted Leave in the EU referendum. Her parents, both doctors, came to the UK from India in the 1970s with just £100, thinking Britain would give them a better life.

Labour saw two new Indian-origin MPs. Hate crime worker and left-wing activist Nadia Whittome, a Punjabi, won Nottingham East with a majority of 17,393, becoming at age 23 the youngest serving MP and also Nottingham’s first BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) MP. She said: “I’m looking forward to using my platform to connect with disenfranchised young people, especially young people of colour, and amplify their voices.” Navendu Mishra took Stockport with a majority of 10,039 but had 4,438 votes less than what the Tories had in 2017.

Of the Tory MPs defending their seats, Suella Braverman increased her majority to 26,086 from 21,555. Shailesh Vara increased his majority to 25,983 from 18,008 in the 2017 polls. The son-inlaw of Indian billionaire Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy, Rishi Sunak, increased his majority to 27,210 from 23,108. Home secretary Priti Patel saw her majority increase to 24,082 from 18,646. Agra-born Alok Sharma, who had a fight on his hands against the hard Left and a Muslim pressure group, both targeting his seat, managed to double his majority to 4,117 from 2,876.


It was a very close fight between Tory candidate Sanjoy Sen, 45, and his Labour rival in Alyn and Deeside in Wales. Sen, a chemical engineer, born in the UK to parents from West Bengal, who was standing for the first time, got 18,058 votes, just 231less than Labour candidate Mark Tami, considerably slashing the Labour majority.

There was another close fight in Bradford South, which has one of the highest concentrations of South Asians in Britain. UK-born British-Sikh barrister and Tory Narinder Singh Sekhon, son of self-made millionaire Nirmal Singh Sekhon who came to the UK from India aged 15, lost by 2,346 votes to Labour’s Judith Cummins but considerably slashed the majority from 6,700 to 2,346.

In Brent North too, PIO councillor Anjana Patel helped slashed Labour MP Barry Gardiner’s majority to 8,079 from 17,061. In Keith Vaz’s former seat Leicester East, which has a high number of Hindus, newcomer Bhupen Dave, of Gujarati descent, considerably slashed the Labour majority after a non-Indian Claudia Webbe was parachuted in from Islington. He brought the Labour majority down from 22,428 to 6,019.

Labour’s Valerie Vaz, 64, a Remainer, managed to hold onto her Leave-leaning Walsall South seat, despite a tough fight from Punjabi Gurjit Bains who had worked for the Vote Leave campaign. Bains slashed Vaz’s majority by 5,436 votes to 3,456. Seema Malhotra, 47, saw her majority slashed in half down to 7,859. Lisa Nandy, too, saw her majority slashed from 16,027 to 6,728 in a traditional safe Labour seat of Wigan.


In Slough, former Miss India British-Sikh Kanwal Toor Gill failed to make any inroads into 41-yearold Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi’s majority and British-Sikh Preet Gill also held onto her Birmingham Edgbaston seat.

Hindu backlash did not really hurt Labour

Dec 15, 2019 Times of India

How Labour and the Conservatives fared in Asian seats, 2015-19
From: Dec 15, 2019 Times of India

It is a widely accepted ‘fact’ that a Hindu backlash against the Labour party’s resolution on Kashmir cost the party dear in the just concluded UK general elections while it helped the Conservative Party. Data, however, does not bear out this conclusion.

Data from the 2011 UK census shows that there were 30 constituencies in which Asians constituted over 25% of the population.

TOI looked at detailed results for these constituencies from the last three general elections to see whether there was evidence of the suggested Hindu backlash and found there was little evidence of it.

The largest chunk of the 30 constituencies (14 of them) is in the London area. The West Midlands forms the next biggest lot with six constituencies, four of them in the Birmingham area. Constituencies in and around Manchester, Leicester, Bradford, Luton and Slough make up the rest.

Labour won 29 of these 30 constituencies, exactly the same as in the last general elections in 2017. The lone seat won by the Tories was Harrow East, just as it was two years earlier. This in itself doesn’t prove the absence of a backlash. In fact, vote share data does shows a sharp drop in the Labour vote from 67.6% in 2017 to 61.2% this time.

However, this drop of 6.4 percentage points is lower than the decline of 7.8 percentage points that Labour registered nationally. If anything, Asian-concentration seats seem to have been less harsh on Labour than the rest.

Even more tellingly, Labour’s vote share in these 30 seats now is nearly 5 percentage points higher than the 56.5% it garnered in these same seats in 2015. How does this square with the theory of an angry Hindu vote base moving to the Tories?

The vote shares of the Conservative Party too do not indicate any significant gain in these seats. It got 26.2% of the votes this time against 25.4% in 2017, an uptick of a mere 0.8 percentage points. That is lower than its national gain of 1.3 percentage points.

Of course, Asian need not necessarily mean Indian and Indian need not mean Hindu, but it is a well-established fact that Indians comfortably outnumber other South Asians (which is what Asian normally means in the UK context). Could it be that there was a backlash but it was counterbalanced by some other factor?

It is indeed possible, but it would need to be a factor peculiar to these constituencies or at least one that has more impact in them than in the rest of the UK. Thus far, nobody has suggested any factor that would have helped Labour specifically in these areas.

All 3 PIO ministers retain post in Cabinet

Dec 18, 2019 Times of India

Three Indian-origin ministers, including UK home secretary Priti Patel, have retained their posts in PM Boris Johnson’s cabinet, which met ahead of the first parliament session since the Conservative Party won a strong 80-seat majority in the general election last week. The newlyelected MPs and ministers returned to the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Johnson has carried out a very limited cabinet reshuffle for now to fill some vacant posts, while maintaining the status quo across his top team — which he has dubbed the “People’s Cabinet”. The three Indian-origin ministers, who had won back their seats convincingly in the Tory landslide, have been retained in their posts.

Patel was back by Johnson’s side in the Commons as UK home secretary, with fellow MP Alok Sharma remaining in charge of the department for international development. Rishi Sunak, the son-in-law of Infosys cofounder Narayana Murthy, retains his place in the cabinet table as chief secretary to the treasury.

In parliament, the newly re-elected UK prime minister began his address by paying tribute to the two victims of the London Bridge terrorist attack last month before getting back to the central theme of his government — Britain’s exit from the European Union. “We are going to get Brexit done,” he declared. He went on to confirm that the new government plans to table the EU Withdrawal Bill back to the Commons for the new “people’s parliament” to see it through. PTI


See graphic:

In 2020 there were 3 Indians in the UK cabinet.


Rishi Sunak, PM

Oct: The KIng appointed Rishi Sunak the Prime Minister of the UK

Indians in the British Parliament


The Times of India

May 8, 2015

Record number of Indian-origin MPs elected to UK parliament

First Chinese-origin person to enter UK parliament

A record number of 10 Indian-origin candidates including Keith Vaz, Priti Patel and Infosys cofounder Narayana Murthy's son-in-law were elected to the British parliament. Prominent Labour candidates like long-serving MPs Keith Vaz (Leicester East) and Virendra Sharma (Ealing Southall) have won their respective seats, as they have a special connect with a largely Indian-origin electorate in their constituencies. Ruling Conservatives' Indian-origin stalwart, British Prime Minister David Cameron's Indian diaspora champion Priti Patel also retained her Witham seat with a 41.5 per cent majority, winning 27,123 seats. Opposition Labour's Valerie Vaz also retained her Walsall South seat and Seema Malhotra won a her south west London seat comfortably. The Infosys cofounder Narayana Murthy's son-in-law Rishi Sunak, was contesting from the Tory safe seat of Richmond (Yorks) in the north of England and bagged 27,744 votes.

With his nearest opponent, Matthew Cooke of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), at a mere 8,194, his win marks an impressive 51.4 per cent majority to become a first-time MP in the House of Commons.

"I grew up watching my parents serve our local community with dedication. My dad is a NHS (National Health Service) family GP and my mum ran her own local chemist shop," Sunak said.

Other Indian-origin winners include Alok Sharma (Reading West), Shailesh Vara (Cambridgeshire Northwest), another junior minister who has been an MP since 2005. First-timer Suella Fernandes (Fareham) for the Conservatives and a Labour novice Lisa Nandy (Wigan).

The overall tally of 10 Indian-origin MPs in the British parliament breaks the previous 2010 general election record of eight.

But it was not all smooth sailing for Indian-origin Tory candidates, with Paul Uppal losing by a narrow margin to Labour.

In the same Wolverhampton region, brother-sister duo Arun and Suria Photay also failed to make their first-time mark.

There were a total of 59 Indian-origin candidates in the fray from the Tories (17), Labour (14), Liberal Democrats (14), Green Party (4), United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) (3), independents (2) and one each from the smaller parties like All People's Party, Christian Movement for Great Britain, National Liberal Party, Socialist Labour Party and Young People's Party.

David Cameron, who looks set to return as prime minister, has repeatedly gone on record during the campaign claiming that he is confident that the country's "first Asian or black prime minister" will come from his Conservative party.

The party had also fielded the first-ever Sikh candidate in Northern Ireland, Amandeep Singh Bhogal, but he failed to make any mark coming last with just 201 votes in a DUP stronghold.

Indian-origin voters have traditionally connected more with Labour due to its working class and immigrant friendly outlook, however these elections seem to indicate a strong shift in favour of the Tory party.


5 PIO MPs in Labour shadow cabinet

Naomi Canton, Three more PIO MPs in new Labour chief’s shadow cabinet in UK, April 11, 2020: The Times of India

Three British Indian MPs have been appointed to the main opposition front bench by Labour’s new centrist leader, Keir Starmer, bringing the total number of PIOs on the Labour front bench to five. Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been relegated to the backbenches.

By purging the shadow cabinet of the hard Left, Starmer has made way for moderate Labour MPs and “Corbyn-sceptics”. The new shadow cabinet has seven MPs from ethnic minorities.

The first Sikh female MP in Britain, Preet Gill, is now shadow international development secretary. Gill said she looked forward to speaking up for the world’s most marginalised and vulnerable, especially as the coronavirus pandemic presents an immediate threat in those places where health systems may struggle to cope.

Gill joins half-Bengali Lisa Nandy and Valerie Vaz in the new shadow cabinet. Nandy was made shadow foreign secretary while Vaz, the sister of ex-MP Keith Vaz, remains as shadow leader of the house.

Britain’s first turbaned Sikh MP, Tan Dhesi, is now on the main opposition front bench as shadow railways minister, while Seema Malhotra has been appointed shadow employment minister. Dhesi said he would “take the fight to the Tories and hold them to account”, while Malhotra said she would ensure those who lost jobs owing to Covid-19 would get the support they need.

Indians from Britain in the EU Parliament


Naomi Canton, May 28, 2019: The Times of India

3 PIOs elected to EU Parliament from Britain


There will be at least three PIO British MEPs taking seats in the ninth European Parliament. Claude Moraes and Neena Gill, the first ever Indian-origin MEPs elected in 1999, both kept their seats and a new face emerged of self-made multimillionaire Dinesh Dhamija. By Monday with 11 of 12 regions declared, Dhamija, 69, son of late Indian diplomat Jagan Nath Dhamija, had become an MEP for the Liberal Democrats. He is one of eight MEPs who will represent London, where his party topped the polls, one of only two regions in Britain to beat the Brexit Party.

Educated at Mayo College, Ajmer and St Xavier’s School in Delhi, Dhamija made his millions when he sold his internet travel company eBookers in 2005. “The reason why I stood is because of the hate crimes against Asians in the aftermath of the EU referendum 2016. Until then I had been doing back office work for the Lib Dems and that is why I wanted to stand on the frontline,” he said.

“As part of the EU, which has GDP worth US$ 18 trillion a year, we have much better negotiating power than as the UK with just US$3 trillion. The Brexit Party did not win in London and London produces 30% of the UK’s GDP,” Dhamija added.

Born in Australia, he read law at Cambridge and studied at IMD in Lausanne and Harvard Business School. “I will try and help India too,” he said.

Ludhiana-born Gill, 62, who moved to the UK aged 10, was the only Labour MEP to keep her seat in the West Midlands. She said she would continue to work on improving dialogue between the EU and India, on combating climate change, human rights and democracy.

Moraes, 53, the EU Parliament’s sixth most influential MEP, was born in Yemen to Mangalorean parents, and spent a few years in Mumbai, before being raised in Scotland. He said he hoped to continue his role as chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the biggest committee in the Parliament.

Political inclinations

2019: Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs

Naomi Canton, Dec 12, 2019 Times of India

British Hindus are expected to vote for the Conservative Party in significant numbers elections in response to Labour’s stance on India under its leader Jeremy Corbyn.

A group of British Indians have been campaigning for “pro-India” candidates in 40 seats, the majority of which are Conservative candidates. “The Indian community will influence about 40 (of 650) seats in this election,” claimed Overseas Friends of BJP UK president Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat. “The majority of PIOs have switched to the Tories and it is not only Hindus... Quite a few Sikhs and Muslims too.”

Political analyst Kapil Dudakia agreed. “Some from the Indian community have aligned to the Lib Dems, but many are now very much with the Tory party,” he said. However, Dudakia said the shift to the Tories was mainly among the 8,17,000-strong Hindu community in Britain and driven by Labour’s “anti-India and anti-Hindu” stance. A large number of PIO Sikhs and Muslims “were still with Labour”, he claimed.

Dr Rakib Ehsan, researcher on British ethnic minority public attitudes, agreed. “PIO Muslims are likely to remain with Labour because of issues like Kashmir and Palestine. I expect some Sikhs will vote Conservative as Punjabi Sikhs, in particular, are Brexit-leaning. I also expect to see some shift to the Lib Dems as British Indians tend to be Remainers.”

“The Tories have fielded the most PIO candidates and their manifesto is pro-India. Labour have fielded very few PIO candidates and their manifesto is not in favour of the Indian community. Boris supports India and he said if re-elected Delhi will be his first stop,” Shekawat claimed.

The British-Indian vote will also help Agra-born Tory candidate Alok Sharma increase his majority in Reading West. “Bob is one of the only voices who has spoken up for India over Kashmir in Parliament and he solidly stands behind the community,” Shekhawat said.

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