image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE and some winner leaders of 2019 uk Election

British Sikh Issues Carried Over to New Year 2020 - (Part III)

 

* British Sikhs need to revise their political strategy following the General Election 2019

 

     The Conservative Party won the General election with 365 seats and PM Boris Johnson welcomed 109 new Tory MPs to the House of Commons this week. It will take the Labour Party a long time to recover and rediscover its true role in UK politics. However, it is a matter of much satisfaction for the Sikhs that the two Labour Sikh MPs, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and Preet Kaur Gill, have both been returned to the Parliament.

During the election campaign, candidates of the political parties would have noted Sikh issues and concerns in The Sikh Manifesto UK 2020-25. It is always a matter of much satisfaction when MPs speak with knowledge of Sikh history, religious tradition and Anglo-Sikh heritage when they talk to Sikh audiences. This is also reflected in their Parliamentary speeches and support for Sikh issues. They are much better prepared when visiting Gurdwaras to assure the Sangats that they have a good understanding of Sikh issues and Sikh contribution to the British plural society.

 

Traditionally, quite understandably, grassroots Sikh bias has been towards the Labour Party. However, due to Sikh successes in many fields, Sikh interests today are much wider as the political landscape has also changed. Tory electoral successes in many traditionally Labour areas illustrate that change. British Sikhs should revise their own political strategy and, depending upon the issues, their support should be more evenly spread across the main parties, albeit with focus on marginal seats where they can assert voting influence. As with Labour, so with the Conservatives, closer working links should be established. That will be the next challenge for the leading nationwide Sikh organisations.

The UK will leave the EU at the end of January, 2020. UK Sikhs will have to adjust to the new situation while retaining close links with Sikhs in Europe. It is a challenge as well as an opportunity to establish Sikh centres in Europe capable of shaping own political strategy to safeguard Sikh interests as well as playing their role as citizens of the countries they live in. The UK lesson is that political influence is important to be heard and recognised. Sikh populations have increased in European countries like Italy and they have begun to assert political presence. The need is for co-ordination through networks and global level pursuance of common Sikh goals. Translation of Gurbani in different European languages is a religious need and will be promoted.

Events and projects commemorating the 550th Parkaash Year of Guru Nanak Sahib have raised the global profile of the Sikhs and what Sikhi stands for. Whatever the machinations and motivations behind the scenes, massive support by the Indian BJP-led government and establishment in India and abroad through the diplomatic missions, has added massively to the global recognition of Sikhs. As the saying goes, one should not look a gift-horse in the mouth! However, there is also another wise note of caution about the proverbial Trojan Horse as the extremist Hindutva agenda continues to unfold.

 

The independence of Sikh theo-political ideology needs continual assertion while respecting human diversity in a spirit of Sarbat-da-bhalaa. (Conclusion next week).

 

 

Gurmukh Singh OBE