On the eve of the Labour Party's annual conference in Brighton, where the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer is on the line, British Indians have slammed the party’s perceived anti-India bias. According to British Indians surveyed in a UK-wide poll, Labour Friends of India (LFIN) is not representing their interests effectively.
The latest edition of the Great British Indian Survey, iGlobal’s regular series to address issues and concerns within the Indian diaspora communities in the UK, focussed on this crucial voter base connect with the main Opposition party of the country.
The questions for the Yes-No survey covered some of the key aspects of the British Indian connect with the Labour Party:
Do you feel the Labour Party is anti-Indian? Yes = 92% No = 8%
Would you vote for the Labour Party if there was an election tomorrow? Yes = 7% No = 93%
Do you agree that Labour Friends of India (LFIN) does enough to represent the interests of British Indians in the Labour Party? Yes = 11% No = 89%
The results from over 800 voters for this month-long survey, held in August, came back with an overwhelming verdict against a party traditionally seen as the natural home of migrant communities.
The reason behind the choice of this subject for the latest iGlobal survey was spurred on by several anecdotal references since Labour’s debacle in the 2019 general election and, most recently, a controversial byelection pamphlet that angered British Indians for its blatantly anti-Indian overtones. Even the Labour Friends of India (LFIN) group eventually came out against its use.
“The Labour Party is right to call out Boris Johnson’s lack of action following the conclusion that anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the Conservative Party. It is unfortunate that the Labour Party used a picture of the Prime Minister of India, the world’s largest democracy and one of UK’s closest friends, from the G7 meeting in 2019, on its leaflet,” LFIN said in its statement.
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Indian-origin Labour MP, Navendu Mishra, took to Twitter to declare that his party “will not win by playing divide and rule politics against our communities”.
“We will win based on a principled stance against racism and discrimination of all kinds inside and outside the party,” he noted.
However, the diaspora hurt and anger went on to be further compounded when Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer was given the chance to retract the pamphlet in the Commons weeks later but chose to skirt the issue instead.
“The diaspora is extremely angered by such blatant partisan anti-India display by Labour yet again. This, at a time, when the UK considers India as a close ally and progressing with plans of strengthening the relationship in a post-Brexit and post-Covid world,” said Friends of India Society International UK (FISI UK), one of many organisations registering a formal complaint against the party’s actions.
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The Labour Party, which meets for its annual party conference in Brighton from this weekend, has been approached for its reaction to the Great British Indian Survey findings, which should be welcomed as a wake-up call by the Opposition party to mend bridges with a 1.6-million-strong voter base that has been proven to swing key constituencies in a general election.
But beyond just the votes they are clearly losing out on, the findings should come as further proof of the party alienating an influential group, often referred to as the Living Bridge between the UK and India, a hugely important strategic partner.