image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Sikh Manifesto UK: Effective Sikh Political Representation

A shopping list is necessary before going to the shops. In the same way, it is necessary to have some sort of list of issues, concerns and questions when meeting politicians. These issues would include religious freedoms e.g. the wearing of Sikh Kakaars, accurate Sikh count and monitoring in Census 2021 as a significant ethnic (qaumi) community, national level monument commemorating Sikh role in World War I, and raising issues relating to Sikh human rights in the UK and abroad.

For five decades UK politicians of the main parties have been regularly seen at Gurdwaras asking for Sikh votes. The opportunities for putting real Sikh issues and concerns have always been there but often missed because, either the Sikhs meeting the politicians did not have a clear idea of what the Sikh issues were or they lacked the language skills to present them in the constitutional language of the establishment.

Despite some outstanding exceptions, Gurdwara parbandhaks have been content to get photographs taken with visiting senior politicians. Yet, these are the times when Sikhs should be presenting the visiting politicians their own pre-conditions for voting for candidates best qualified to present Sikh as well as wider issues. The votes of over half a million British Sikhs do count, especially in marginal seats, and cross-party politicians are well aware of this.

 

In fact, historically Sikhs have always been slow in making effective presentation of their case, no matter how glaring the evidence. Today, despite being qualified historically and legally, British Sikhs have yet to secure accurate count in the Census and monitoring by thousands of public bodies which follow Census ethnic categories, to ensure a level playing field with other significant UK communities.

It is for the above reasons that, at first, the Sikh Agenda and since the 2015 General Election, The Sikh Manifesto, have been game changers so far as presentation of the Sikh case is concerned. I have always given drafting and advisory support for such initiatives as the right and most effective way to secure British Sikh expectations and aspirations. Not only are Sikh issues taken up in the Parliament by well-briefed non-Sikh MPs but youngish qualified Sikhs with political ambition now have real opportunities to get selected as candidates for elections.

It can be argued that the Sikh Manifesto UK (2015-2020) did contribute significantly to the selection and popular election of Sikh identity MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and the first Sikh woman MP Preet Kaur Gill.

 

With the certainly of a General Election in the near future, it is a matter of much satisfaction that The Sikh Manifesto for years 2020-2025 is being finalised by a team of professional level Sikhs facilitated by The Sikh Network following feedback from the community about achievements and progress over the last 5 years and after taking account of new challenges and opportunities.

Once published, the Sikh Manifesto (2020-2025) should be adopted as the political shopping list by Sikh voters and Gurdwara parbandhaks when talking to candidates and the senior politician visiting Gurudwaras and Sikh organisations. Only, such a nationwide statement of Sikh needs can ensure united action and progress.

We need more Sikh identity MPs and informed representation of Sikh issues in the Parliament.

 

 

Gurmukh Singh OBE