“The Sikh Manifesto” key to election success
“Sikhs are a role model community and provide an exceptionally interesting example of successful integration whilst maintaining a very visible and distinctive identity.” The Sikh Manifesto UK starts not only with successful Sikh integration but also success in other spheres of British life with stress on common Anglo-Sikh heritage. This is at a time when, in the wake of Brexit, there is so much talk about “the impact of immigration and the integration of minority communities”. The Sikh Manifesto provides a comprehensive brief about Sikh issues for politicians, the Parliamentarians and the public.
With the General Election announced for 8 June 2017, the British Sikhs have an opportunity to get their political act together. There is an opportunity for at least one Sikh woman and a “sabat saroop” (identity) Sikh to make it to the House of Commons. At the time of writing the Labour Party has announced Bibi Preet Kaur Gill (a Board member of the Sikh Network) from Birmingham, and S. Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi from Slough.
However, even when Sikhs stand for elections from winnable seats, they will have to work extra hard to succeed no matter what the majority in the previous election of the Party they stand for. More so in the current Brexit climate when there is a sharp swing to right-wing politics. Sikh candidates should not take “safe seats” for granted. Sikh experience in every field is that they have to do that extra mile to succeed.
Much credit for the background lobbying at senior political level goes to the first Sikh political party, the Sikh Federation UK, supported, no doubt, by many influential British Sikhs and organisations. As Bhai Amrik Singh of the Federation said in a press statement, “An early General Election gives political parties and the Sikh community an opportunity to address the complete lack of Sikh representation in the House of Commons.”
While the Sikh candidates have to show a good grasp of the most urgent national and international issues, the Sikhs as a community have an opportunity to lobby all candidates about the Sikh issues listed in the Sikh Manifesto 2015-2020. These include more effective Sikh representation, ethnic monitoring of the Sikhs, 1984 Sikh genocide related issues, need for statutory guidelines regarding the Sikh articles of faith and a Sikh monument in London to highlight Sikh sacrifices in World War I.
The Manifesto is now acknowledged as a Sikh political reference manual not only specific to the UK but, regarding the more general Sikh issues, to all Sikhs in the diaspora countries. It is also a well-balanced introduction to the Sikhs, and shows the commonality between Sikh and British values. In fact the Manifesto is an educational document and as announcement that we are Sikhs and we are British. British Sikhs need opportunities to serve in the political arena in the same way as they are making so much contribution in economic, social, professional and other fields.
Gurmukh Singh OBE