Labour Party attempts long-overdue reset with British Indians

Labour Party attempts long-overdue reset with British Indians
Courtesy: Jonathan Brady - PA Images / Contributor | PA Images Via Getty Images

With an eye on the next general election, which is due by 2024 or even earlier depending on how the ongoing Conservative Party leadership race pans out, Britain’s Opposition Labour Party has sought to reset its troubled relations with British Indians – a crucial electorate that could hold the swing factor in such a poll.

To coincide with the 75th Indian Independence Day celebrations this week, Labour Leader Keir Starmer took to Twitter to extend his greetings to “vibrant, multi-faith democracy” India and the over 1.5-million strong Indian diaspora in the UK.

One of Labour’s newer British Indian MPs who was elected from Stockport in 2019, Navendu Mishra, penned a moving tribute to the country of his origins as he announced the revival of the Labour Convention of Indian Organisations (LCIO) as a crucial resource to “inclusively” connect British Indians to Labour and to engage with India as an “equal partner”.

Mishra writes: “British Indians aren’t necessarily policy-aligned with the Conservatives – they just feel heard and represented by them.

“Watching British Indians such as Rishi Sunak rise to the top is inspiring for many people in the British Indian community. Organisations such as the Conservative Friends of India regularly engage with the community and organise for the community’s interests within the party.

“Thus, reinvigorating the Labour Convention of Indian Organisations on India’s 75th Independence Day is crucial for the rebirth of the Labour-India relationship.”

Manoj Ladwa, Chairman & CEO of the India Inc. Group and Founder of UK-India Week, welcomed the initiative that holds out some promise to tap into the huge potential of the UK-India relationship.

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He told iGlobal: "We need all political parties in the UK to be positive about India and the huge potential of the UK-India relationship. Together, both countries can be a great force for immense good in the world.

“Therefore, this effort by Navendu Mishra and his colleagues in the Labour Party to reset what of late has been a very strained relationship with India and the British Indian diaspora is welcome."

According to Mishra, the LCIO focus will be on:

  • A UK-India trade agreement – to engage with India and to foster inclusive sustainable growth for both countries;

  • Representation – to close the gap between British Indians and the Labour Party;

  • Living Bridge – to deepen cultural and educational ties between Britain and India;

  • Harnessing potential – to encourage Labour’s utilisation of the vital economic and social contribution of the British Indian community; and

  • Global challenges – to address the existential issues of our time such as the climate crisis, food security and inequality.

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“From the economy to healthcare, from hospitality to the faith sector, from showbusiness to politics, British Indians have a growing role in our national life. Further, bilateral trade between India and the UK is worth over £16.5 billion, and the UK is India’s biggest G20 investor. The LCIO encourages and celebrates this reality for the good of all,” said Krish Raval OBE, member of LCIO Steering Committee and Director, Faith in Leadership.

As Mishra points out, Labour traditionally built its strong connect with India and global Indians through robust organisations such as the India League, now the 1928 Institute, and the revival of LCIO is aimed as reinvigorating those roots while looking ahead to strong UK-India ties.

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