I just watched the BBC 2 report on Daily Politics about British Indians deserting Labour and the reasons for the diaspora in doing so. It was a very fair, balanced, and an accurate piece of reporting. But other journalists have not been, or purposely tried to sensationalise the issue.
These are the key reasons for the Party’s isolation – in order of my estimation of popularity (some will have more than one reason). And some suggestions for the Labour Party.
1. Labour’s anti-India attacks. Where on earth do people get these ideas from when Jeremy Corbyn and the others would deny Labour is anti-India? And why should foreign affairs be relevant to a domestic vote?
The Kashmir emergency motion was one big hint. The other problem Labour have is their denial of "anti-Indian” which is not believed. Credibility is shot to pieces. Then there are Labour MPs like Liam Byrne outside the Indian High Commission whilst it’s attacked. And the former Labour members like Lord Ahmed who between court appearances for paedophilia is busying himself on Twitter bashing India.
But you see it’s not just about India, and if that’s your country of heritage, of course you will speak up. No, it’s about UK-India relations. This election is all about British foreign relations – those with the EU and the impact on the UK. Well, guess what? India is one place you’re wanting to be close to. Who provides doctors for the NHS? Whose billionaires invest in the UK and creates jobs? Domestic enough for you?
And for someone like me who for 20 years has been asked by Labour PMs and Foreign Secretaries (Tony Blair, Robin Cook, Jack Straw) to help build closer ties – this makes me angry that Labour now is putting all that work in the bin.
So why all this BJP stuff by the media? Just because a British national from the Oversees Friends of the BJP says he doesn’t like Labour, doesn’t make it into some Russia-Trump impeachment scandal, anymore than Labour Friends of India criticising Labour's foreign interference in domestic politics.
But you should take notice if UK nationals who are of Indian origin are annoyed, whether of BJP ilk or Labour, or both, because it’s probably a sure sign people in the trade treaty department of the Indian Government people are going to be mighty miffed. And having dealt with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs for two decades – they hold grudges and have memories. I mean big grudges and long memories. No offence to Indian MEA – I am just saying, they are not push-overs. A smile and selfie ain’t gonna smooth things over as it might for some British Indians. So it’s not the BJP, it’s the Indian Civil Service you should watch for. And they will be there forever.
What can Labour Do? They might want to seek the advice of Jack Straw or Tony Blair. Get rid of their leader and remove the negative elements in their Party who are hell bent on attacking one of UK’s closest allies in Asia, and one of the few democracies there.
Lack of Indian Heritage Candidates. The letter from the Labour Friends of India was one hell of a nail in the coffin. The wholesale cleansing of British Indians off the Labour candidacy lists has led to a resignation, letters of protests. But why in a representative democracy do you need to be representative? Well you don’t. You don’t need to have ginger hair to speak for people of ginger hair. But you see, with ethnicities, it looks bad, it looks suspicious to put it politely. Or again, it could just be they did the maths and thought, ‘so what’. It also smacks of hypocrisy after lecturing on human rights, and equality – I mean comrade brothers and sisters?
What can Labour do? Well, next time maybe stand by your principles a lot more. I’m sure there will be a next time.