British Sikhs have launched a first-ever campaign manifesto targeting 50 seats, including three in west London, ahead of the election later in the spring.
Hundreds of people from UK Sikh organisations attended a campaign launch in support of a 10-point manifesto at the Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Southall at the end of January.
- A statutory code of practice on items of the Sikh faith in order to prevent discrimination in the workplace and public spaces
- An independent inquiry into the actions of the British Government in relation to the Amritsar and Delhi massacres of 1984
- UK Government recognition of the events of June and November 1984 as Sikh Genocide and backing from the permanent members of the UN Security Council for a UN-led inquiry into the actions of the Indian authorities
- Allocation of a suitable site in central London for a permanent monument to Sikh’s who lost their lives in the First World War
- More effective Sikh representation in the Houses of Parliament
- A separate ethnic tick box for Sikhs in the 2021 Census and public bodies
- Determined UK Government action against perpetrators of grooming and forced conversions and the media abandoning the throwaway term ‘Asian’
- Support for a network of publicly funded Sikh ethos schools
- UK Government working with other governments to exert pressure on France (and Belgium) to honour decisions by the UNHRC with respect to discrimination against turban wearing Sikhs
- Recognition and support for the Sikhs right to self-determination given the historic and moral responsibility of the UK Government towards Sikhs
The manifesto document says that the Sikh community has grown from less than 2000 to over 700,000 in the last seventy years. It states that, according to a recent survey, 95% of Sikhs in the UK are proud to consider themselves British.
The manifesto claims that Sikhs are a positive example of harmonious integration and that UK Sikhs “have openly practiced their religion by welcoming all faiths to participate in their Gurdwaras, events and celebrations.” At the same time, Sikhs have proved willing and able to defend their rights through peaceful protests, lobbying and legal action.
The manifesto lists a number of obstacles the Sikh community has had to overcome. Despite these, Sikhs have done well in commerce, education and other fields, but “have yet to fully interact, participate and engage with the democratic institutions through the UK political system with similar dedication. They have not been truly represented in relations to their population or contribution. Sikhs must be allowed to become part of the DNA of the British nation and become directly involved in the decision making processes that impact on their daily lives”
Sikh Federation (UK) chairman, Bhai Amrik Singh, said: “Our manifesto topics are of such importance to the British Sikh community that the response of parties and candidates to them will determine how many in the community vote.
“We are making the most of our voting clout through targeting seats and publishing a manifesto for the first time.
“We are looking for firm commitments from each political party on the big issues.
The campaign and manifesto elicited statements of support from top British Politicians. Labour’s Ed Miliband said: “I think the Sikh Manifesto 2015-2020, written by the Sikh Federation UK, demonstrates the commitment of British Sikhs to be actively involved with the political process, and is a great way of empowering the British Sikh community.”
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, stated: “I warmly welcome the Sikh Federation’s ambition to encourage the British Sikh community to engage with politics at all levels and I congratulate the federation for all the hard work it has already done to increase the awareness and importance of social and political activism within the British Sikh community.