How conservative values can help us secure a better future & Why modern British conservatism is the best response to Labour’s new socialism
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Summary Of Key Points
Capitalism Vs Socialism
Capitalism equates to competence plus hard work resulting in constructive change. It leads to a meaningful and purpose-driven life with societal progression.
Marxist Socialism equates to resentment plus idleness resulting in destructive change. It leads to a meaningless and empty life with societal degradation.
Capitalism is not a perfect economic system, but it is the best one the world has ever known. It is at the core of conservative philosophy and Conservative politics.
Whenever Marxist Socialism has been adopted as a system of economics and governance, anywhere in the world, it has always ended in failure.
Currently, Labour’s political hardware is torn between supporting, or abandoning, Marxist economics. Meanwhile, its political software is running an elitist, hybrid operating system. A bizarre mix of neo-Marxism and woke (or liberal) socialism i.e. the politics of resentment, division, victimhood, and opportunism.
Valuing Human Imperfection
Human beings need to be anchored in the world and connected in life. Conservatism understands this basic truth and advocates that every life has intrinsic worth. Conservatives are the true party of benevolence and compassion, whereas Labour merely pretends to be.
Socialism is a pathology of hatred, comfortable with dehumanising individuals. Socialists despise the people they claim to care about. Individuals, striving for a better life, pose a threat to their warped vision of a utopian society run by authoritarian ideologues and intellectuals.
Despite a damning finding by the EHRC, Labour remains a safe space for far-left political extremists. Sir Keir Starmer is taking a leisurely approach in detoxifying his racist party.
Success And Security
Schools should be modern temples of learning. Young people deserve a decent, well-rounded education. One that develops the mind, by learning how to think, and instils the courage to act constructively in the world. Converting ideas into actions.
Labour’s professed belief in the power of education is a sham. The party denigrates success and disparages people, particularly from working backgrounds, who dare to be ambitious.
Conservatives recognise that being intelligent, without being industrious, is not a healthy, meaningful way to live. We understand knowledge and skills are essential for social mobility.
The Left worldview is naïve. They believe globalisation is good and see no problem in removing borders. The Right believe every life has intrinsic value, but also realise every individual can be complex, and even callous. Thus, it is essential to be realistic and responsible on immigration.
Development Not Decline
Conservatism seeks to conserve that which works well and reform that which does not. Learning from the past, and improving the future, in a way that is thoughtful and measured.
Conservatism advocates taking responsibility for our own lives, supporting our families, and helping other individuals in society by empowering them.
Conservatives appreciate the importance of working. We need something to strive for to give our lives purpose and meaning. Labour is promoting an anti-competence, anti-work agenda.
Conservatives understand family is the foundation of society. Our best guarantee for security, connection, happiness, and contentment. Socialists view the family unit with contempt.
Following an influx of workshy individuals, Labour has been gripped by resentment and idleness. Labour MPs scam young people into believing life is easy and hard work is optional.
Conservatism offers a credible alternative to empower the next generation. Simple, honest truths built on values of responsibility, self-improvement, respect, hard work, and ambition.
A Brighter Future
We are lucky to live in such an incredible country. We should preserve and protect the best of British, and promote our imperfect history, to the next generation.
We need not engage with those who seek to do us harm or undermine our values. Instead, we should work to solve problems for ordinary people.
We can take pride in our successes and strive to perfect the nation we intend to bestow. A nation where equal rights and equal responsibilities go hand-in-hand.
The degeneration of political discourse is a product of incompetence and chaos on the Left. Conservatives have the competence and order to get on with the job.
Modern conservatism has a great deal to offer our country. We are the party of progress and benevolence. Self-improvement and hard work. The party of responsibility, success, inclusivity, and family. Building better lives for all – and taking our nation forwards.
The Price We Pay
When I resigned from Labour in 2020, I laid the blame squarely at the feet of the party. This was unfair. I was angry after years of far-left abuse. Processing feelings of betrayal. The ultimate sin.
As time has gone on, a clearer picture has emerged. It is true there has been a deterioration in British politics. The Labour Party, in particular, has degenerated greatly this last decade.
But as I have aged, and broadened my horizons, many of my core beliefs have also evolved. I am no longer the same 18-year-old who joined New Labour one sunny afternoon at Brunel University.
It is a blessing and a curse to have an open, curious mind. By not being closed to new information, or different people, I have learned new ideas and different ways to understand the world. However, it meant abandoning comfortable, familiar surroundings, and a host of political friends.
Perhaps this is the price we pay to grow.
A Year In Contemplation
I joined the Conservative Party in spring 2021 and now serve as Deputy Chair of Leicester Conservatives. I am thrilled to be on board. Proud to be in a party that reflects my values.
For me, this was the culmination of a steady, but serious, journey of political transition. A journey lasting more than a year. The duration of lockdown.
I spent much of my time speaking with friends, and studying the works of many great thinkers, to develop and distil my own conservative beliefs.
In this paper I shine a light on ideas I believe are essential. Ideas about people, politics, psychology, and philosophy.
I discuss conservative values and how these can help us secure a better future. I reference some of the problems now blighting the Labour Party.
I outline why modern British conservatism is the best response to Labour’s new socialism. Finally, I draw on my experiences, and talk about my vision for the future of our country.
I shall now set out my own, imperfect, case for conservatism.
Competence And Hard Work In Capitalism
Competence is the product of innate human curiosity and a yearning for self-improvement. Capitalism values competence, and thus, competent people tend to do well in capitalist societies.
Competence, in this context, can be the collective term for our:
Knowledge – information gleaned from learning and stored in the mind;
Thoughts – the ability to think and create new ideas and solutions;
Skills – using knowledge and thoughts to complete tasks and make progress;
Creative Potential – tangible results produced by acting constructively in the world.
Competence is developed slowly through life by studying, working, and competing with others – and our younger, former selves – to become better. As we increase competence, we can trade our time in exchange for reward and satisfaction i.e. working, running a business, volunteering etc.
Everyone can build sufficient competence to work a job or find a creative outlet. But not everyone has the best start in life. We rightly have education and welfare systems to help address this.
Overall, capitalism is competence plus hard work, resulting in constructive change in the world. It leads to a meaningful and purpose-driven life and, eventually, societal progression.
Capitalism is not a perfect economic system. But it is also the best one the world has ever known. It promotes freedom, progress, co-operation, and equality, and has transformed the course of human history, lifting billions out of poverty. Capitalism is at the core of conservative philosophy and Conservative politics – and rightly so.
Protecting Our Nation
It has been a painful year. Our lives have changed forever. We have seen, perhaps for the first time, the face of our own mortality. I know I have.
At a time of unprecedented challenge – a full-blown, global emergency – Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government took a hugely interventionalist approach.
Borrowing, and injecting, hundreds of billions of pounds into the British economy. Empowering the NHS. Saving lives, jobs, and businesses. Delivering a successful vaccine rollout.
It was a significant and responsible undertaking in frightening times. A government, stepping up, to fulfil its primary purpose. Protecting the British people and saving the economy.
The last decade has not been plain sailing. There have been many, not unreasonable, criticisms of Conservative policies. But the party has grown to embody an important truth. We can practise social compassion without socialism. We can have lightly regulated markets without Marxism.
Conservative fiscal policy has rolled with the times. Pressing on different levers of economic theory, blending monetarist and Keynesian approaches, as and when required. This demonstrates adaptability and expertise. Responsible management of Britain’s economy.
Rishi Sunak has proven himself an exceptional chancellor. He has done more for working people than Labour ever would. This is why Labour has struggled to land any credible opposition.
A spring 2021 survey of Labour voters found 55% preferred Tory Rishi Sunak. Compared to just 37% support for their own (now-defunct) shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds.
Resentment And Idleness In Socialism
Something For Nothing
Envy is a perilous human emotion and goes beyond desire, a healthy sensation we all feel. In the context of understanding socialism, we can think of ‘desire’ as noticing another person’s success, and wanting it for ourselves – by working hard to achieve it.
Whereas ‘envy’, in the same context, is noticing another person’s success, and wanting it for ourselves – by judging the other person unworthy and wishing to deprive them i.e. envious resentment.
Envious resentment dwells in the mind. When converted into action, it is akin to idleness and theft. Wanting something for nothing. Failing, or refusing, to earn value and success by building competence, working hard, and contributing to society.
Resentment is at the core of Marxism, and Marxism is the obsolete 19th century doctrine of socioeconomics, offered by socialism.
Overall, socialism is resentment plus idleness, resulting in destructive change in the world. It leads to a meaningless and empty life and, eventually, societal degradation.
Whenever Marxist Socialism has been adopted as a system of economics and governance, anywhere in the world, it has always ended in failure – often with dire consequences. My family knows this all too well. It was fanatical, authoritarian left-wing politics built on resentment, that led to all Asian people being forcibly expelled from Uganda, in the early 1970s.
Labour’s Hardware/Software Problem
In today’s Labour Party there is an ongoing tug of war. Between socialists – who want to replace capitalism with some form of Marxism – and social democrats, who understand capitalism is here to stay and want to work within it i.e. New Labour.
Meanwhile, as Labour’s political hardware decides whether to support, or abandon, Marxism, its political software is running an elitist, hybrid operating system. A bizarre mix of neo-Marxism and woke (or liberal) socialism i.e. the politics of resentment, division, victimhood, and opportunism.
Consequently, the Labour Party is more interested in vilifying successful, aspirational individuals, than doing anything to help ordinary working people – and their children – to get ahead.
Labour is ideologically adrift, clinging desperately to any old rubbish that floats by. Labour lacks credibility on the economy for several reasons. Not least because the party is still grappling with such an absurd, and outdated, political debate.
Britain invented capitalism. We began the Industrial Revolution! Capitalism has prevailed around the world. Socialists may as well be trying to convince the Inuit people to give up fishing.
Valuing The Imperfect Individual
I learned a major life lesson, between summer 2017 and summer 2018, when I was a Labour council candidate in Harborne, Birmingham. I endured the seething, vengeful hatred of socialists.
As I was acting in the world to bring about change – with a team of dedicated, moderate supporters – I was on the receiving-end of a relentless 9-month campaign of abuse, bullying, and anti-Hindu bigotry. A vicious, concerted effort to destroy me, by people in my own party. It was a pretext for attacking my competence and my work ethic.
After losing that election, and having suffered such an onslaught from fellow Labour activists, I fell into a depressive episode lasting two months. The only time this has ever happened to me.
My family, my friends, and the rekindling of my Hindu faith brought me back from that darkness. I felt a sense of awakening and, over the proceeding few years, I was motivated to work even harder. Motivated to learn the truth – and shine a light – on matters of consequence.
The experience changed my life and, ultimately, my politics. This is the story of my redemption.
The Party Of Benevolence
Now, years later, I understand the warped psychology of socialism, and the troubled minds of resentful socialists. My eyes have been opened and I see now what I did not see before.
That conservatives are the ones who truly value personhood. Conservatives are accepting of individual human beings as we really are. Flawed, but limitless. Fragile, but repairable.
People of all backgrounds with complex lives of intrinsic value. Individuals worthy of respect, forgiveness, and salvation. Conservatives are the true party of benevolence and compassion, empowering individuals to take responsibility, and thus, transform their lives for the better.
Anchored In Existence
We, Homo sapiens, are an imperfect species some two-hundred-thousand-years in the making. Warriors and healers. Builders and thinkers.
We have an evolutionary and existential need to be anchored in the world. To belong and be connected in our lives, with some semblance of origin and tribe, duty and love.
This can be achieved in tried and tested ways. Family, friends, and relationships. Productive work. Spiritual contentment. Sport, culture, and tradition. And love of country – our democratic nation state. The grand old story of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
A kingdom, united. Holding us all together through life’s ups and downs.
The False Search For Perfection
The Dark Side Of Socialism
Authoritarian socialists reject grand narratives like the British nation and its heritage. They refuse our true nature for anchoring in the world and connection in our lives.
Socialists have little patience for human dignity. Individuals are of limited value. Unworthy of deliverance, and expendable, for the good of the group. It is not unlike the approach taken by another well-meaning collective in search for perfection. The Borg from Star Trek.
As an ideology, socialism is comfortable with dehumanising individuals. When employed as a system of governance – in regimes that are communist in theory, but socialist in practice – it is a foregone conclusion malevolent tyrants, with troubled minds, rise to the top.
Inflicting pain, suffering, and humiliation on others for pleasure. This is the definition of sadism, and sadism is the dark side of the socialist moon. It may not be observable. But it is always there.
How else do we explain the genocidal mass murder of hundreds of millions of individuals in Soviet Russia, Mao’s China, and 1970s Cambodia? To name but three examples. An incalculable loss of human life, and human potential, caused by a global pandemic of evil ideas.
A Safe Space For Extremists
I am not claiming Labour would be a far-left socialist government. But one fact remains.
In 2020, for the first time in British history, a mainstream political party was deemed to be institutionally racist. A finding, in law, delivered by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
Despite more than a year in the job for Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, his party remains far too hospitable to left-wing political extremists. A warm, welcoming home for some of our most disturbed fellow citizens. Severely misguided individuals with deeply problematic ideas.
Spewing racism. Venerating despots. Holding anti-human sentiment in the chaos of their minds. Projecting self-hatred onto the world and, especially, onto working people who love their families.
The harm caused by Labour to Britain’s Jewish community, as well as others in our nation, tarnished forever the reputation of an important British institution.
The party of Atlee and Wilson. Blair and Brown. The movement that established our National Health Service and so much more besides.
Labour must find its own redemption soon.
Aspiring To A Better Life
Schools As Modern Temples
As an inexperienced Leicester councillor, aged 29, I recall sitting in a closed-door Labour group meeting. We were discussing the future of a school that wanted to switch to academy status.
Every councillor spoke against allowing the grant-maintained school becoming an academy. Not because they were concerned about the quality of education students would get. They were not.
They simply did not want to see a Labour-run local authority lose control and management of the school in question. It was baffling to me. Now, nearly a decade on from that debate, I see how the party had begun drifting off in the wrong direction.
I am not an expert in the field, but I believe properly-run, independent academy schools can be remarkable places of education. Modern temples of learning, with greater autonomy and empowered, well-paid teachers working miracles on impressionable young minds. Producing superb academic results and many contented parents and guardians.
Labour Sneers At Success
The sad reality is Labour’s professed belief in the power of education is a sham. The party now distrusts individuals who become too educated. Too ambitious, too hard-working, too successful. Labour begins disparaging such people. Deploying the politics of resentment.
Sneering at individuals, particularly those of us from working class backgrounds, who aspire to something more. How dare we use our education to build a better life!
Nowadays, Labour prefers to see people wallow in self-pity and hopelessness. Used as cannon fodder by its politicians. Labour MPs who spend their days tweeting endlessly about Palestine, Yemen, Kashmir – and a myriad of other far-flung places. All the places in the world requiring Labour expertise, for some particular reason, and always at the expense of the British taxpayer.
Conservatives believe in the power of education. We understand knowledge and skills are essential for social mobility. We value free speech and free inquiry. Free from the fear of being ‘cancelled’ or harmed for a fleeting transgression or incomplete thought.
A Complete Education
The new socialist Left focuses on developing the mind. Absorbing facts. Achieving qualifications. Learning how to think. Or rather, what to think.
The modern conservative Right goes further. We believe education is a lifelong endeavour. But it should not just be about developing the mind and then, confined to the cushy, risk-free pursuit of only ever criticising other people’s actions.
A proper education requires much more than being an incomplete intellectual, sheltering in the safety of imagination.
Thoughts Into Actions
There are two prerequisites for developing a decent, robust education that builds individual competence. Cultivating the mind, by learning how to think. And then, fostering the courage to extract those thoughts, by acting in the world; constructively, not destructively.
In other words, seeking out information and collating knowledge, facts, and arguments. Able to use one’s mind to create new ideas and solutions. A mental endeavour.
Then, using one’s strength, actions, resources, technology, and/or the help of other people, to take those thoughts and ideas, and work them into existence. A physical endeavour.
Failing Is Learning
We might fail, repeatedly. We will make mistakes, assuredly. But so what? We are flawed and fragile individuals. Why should our attempts at creation be any different?
This is the essence of what it means to be well-educated, and, also, truly alive. Living in the here and now. The present moment. Not trapped in the regrets of yesterday. Not worried about the fears of tomorrow. But living for today.
Taking the risk to build and achieve something of value in our lives. A creative experience that feels scary and difficult. Pushed beyond our comfort zone and possibly made to look a fool!
But only in the eyes of foolish people, too afraid to try their hand at living.
A person that focuses entirely on developing their mind, without taking responsibility to build overall competence, by acting constructively in the world, may experience self-loathing in later life. Self-loathing that will manifest as resentment of others perceived to be doing well.
This is Labour’s current predicament. Mired in the resentment politics of socialism, and a host of other cataclysms, catering to the neurosis of extremist ideologues and embittered intellectuals.
Conservatives recognise that being intelligent, without being industrious – i.e. failing to convert invisible brainpower, into visible results – is not a healthy, meaningful way to live. We understand that working hard, and having something to strive for, brings us not only financial reward but also spiritual contentment, and a happier, healthier life.
Put another way, in language more relatable to Generation Z, in this era of Tiktok and Instagram: it is better to be a content creator, than to be a troll. The former is difficult but rewarding. The latter is easy but meaningless. This is the difference between modern conservatism and woke socialism.
Borders Bring Order To Chaos
Rule Of Law
The Right has long been comfortable with borders. The Left has always struggled with them. This is ludicrous in some sense. We all instinctively support borders between ourselves and other people. We instinctively support borders between our possessions and the possessions of others.
The rule of law is how we build and maintain borders amongst individuals. It brings predictable social order to an unpredictable state of anarchy and chaos.
Respect for the rule of law is essential in a well-functioning, modern democracy with millions of people. This basic principle is no longer the default position for the Left.
A Dangerous Agenda
Socialists and woke radicals have a dangerous, anarchic agenda. They work routinely in opposition to the rule of law, and this includes national borders.
They have a simplistic world view and a naïve understanding of human nature. All too often, it is the result of intellectual immaturity, and a false sense of security, inflated by social media.
When it comes to immigration, many on the Left believe globalisation is inherently good for people. Whereas national laws, which seek to curb free movement, are inherently bad.
They take the traditional (and reasonable) Labour mantra – that pooling knowledge and working together leads to a better state of affairs – and seek to apply it globally, to all and sundry.
They believe all people, including those born and raised in parts of the world with little or no shared history with Britain, and our values, can easily be assimilated into our society en masse.
This explains why Labour is hostile to borders that stem the flow of people. It shows why Labour is also weak on crime, and national defence, particularly when the far-left are in the ascendancy.
The True Nature Of Humankind
It is easy to talk deleting borders if one believes, opportunistically, large numbers of poorer economic migrants will adopt leftist ideals, and have a minimal impact on jobs and wages.
It is easy to talk decriminalisation, and dismantling nuclear weapons, if one believes, naïvely, the rest of humanity can be trusted, and everyone’s good intentions can be taken at face value.
In reality, and despite every life having intrinsic worth, every single individual is also capable of great cruelty and great evil, as I have come to learn from a career in criminal justice.
There is a shadow in every mind. An unconscious, undiscovered self. A back seat driver that can be cold, calculating, and callous. Here lurks a person’s capacity to carry out acts of barbarism. Brutal violence. Mass murder. Sexual assaults on children. This is the true, complex nature of humankind.
If we are to survive, and thrive, we must first understand who we are. Not as social groups and nation states; political parties and religions. But as a developed, and dangerous, biological species.
There is no guarantee individuals raised in parts of the world that do not share our values, or worse, oppose our values – i.e. democracy, law, equality, freedom, human rights and dignity, family, hard work, religious tolerance etc. – will happily, and honestly, integrate into our society.
Therefore, it is essential to take a realistic and responsible approach when setting a national immigration policy. One that protects not only our borders, but also our values, and our ambitions.
Conservatives recognise there is an ideological boundary on the political Right. It is the border between conservatism, and the politics of far-right populism, and fascism.
No such boundary exists on the political Left, due to its hostility to borders. Consequently, Labour was overrun by far-left political extremists.
Resentful individuals who drove away many moderate, competent people – whom they saw as a threat to their anti-competence, anti-work agenda – and whose departure has imperilled Labour’s electoral fortunes.
Until Labour cleans house, champions working people, and learns to love our country once again without dividing communities, it remains a lost cause.
Labour is now blighted by woke socialism, and a devious attempt to delete biological borders between sexes.
The trans population of Britain is roughly 0.3%. These are our fellow citizens. Busy living their lives, free and equal, like everyone else.
But from within this number – alongside an array of vocal apologists – there is a faction of far-left extremists, pushing an anti-women agenda.
They claim trans-women, who were born into male bodies and later transitioned into female bodies, should be considered and treated as women, as a biological reality.
Whereas women born and raised as females, with female physiology and an XX chromosome – individuals who never had to transition to anything – should be classed as ‘CIS women’. An artificial, social construct, and the beginning of a slippery slope to diminish womanhood.
It is illogical, absurd, and misogynistic. If it falls to me as a man, and as a conservative, to choose between being politically correct or being an ally of women, I side with women. Today and always.
Meritocracy Over Mediocrity
The political reputation of conservatives is portrayed as regressive. Backward-looking people, who fear change, and prefer the status quo. This is inaccurate.
A better description is conservatives want to conserve that which works well, and reform that which does not. So long as any reforms do not make things worse.
Progressing, ever forwards – in trial and error, and careful refinement – towards an enhanced human experience. This is the mindset of working people and business owners.
Individuals of all backgrounds, striving to create a better life for themselves, and their families.
Conservatism has a wise appreciation of the past. Conservatives recognise the worth of what we have inherited. Important ideals, and institutions, passed down through generations.
These added value in the lives of people who came before us. It is likely they will add value to our lives, as well. Therefore, we aim to be thoughtful and measured.
Not charging around in an easy rampage of mindless destruction. But considerate of why things are the way they are, and inspired to work diligently, on the harder task of building for the future.
Improving ourselves, and our nation, to enhance the legacies we shall want to pass on. It is not a glamorous endeavour. But we know it is the right thing to do.
Freedom And Responsibility
Conservatism wants to see a nation with greater individual freedom, fiscal responsibility, and limited interference by the state. A society in which we add value to our own lives, and work to bring value to the world around us, whilst also looking after our most vulnerable.
Getting a good education. Learning trades and life skills. Protecting our environment. Providing for our families, and contributing to our communities, by empowering individuals.
With a Conservative government increasing social mobility, and enabling the creation of more jobs, wealth, and opportunities for all with a strong, expanding economy.
Works Bring Solace
Conservatism understands work and creativity are spiritual endeavours, not just financial ones. Alongside love of family, and social connectedness, productive work is essential for a good and wholesome life. We know this to be true.
The fragility of life means we need something to strive for to give ourselves purpose and meaning. To feel a sense of achievement and pride. To reach for the stars! A future that is happy, healthy, grounded, and sane, especially as we age.
Anchored in existence. Connected in life. With a belief in something grander than us mere mortals.
Love Of Family
Family is the bedrock on which civilisation is built. The cornerstone of existence. Written into our DNA. Modern families exist with different structures, sizes, and sexualities, but one truth remains.
In a cold and brutal world, where suffering is the default of the human condition, family is our surest guarantee for security and connection. Happiness and contentment.
For love of family, we strive for something more. We work to build a better future, so that our families may lead happier, safer lives.
Marriages and partnerships allow two individuals to form a powerful union. A lifelong pledge for private gain and public good. Joining together to raise children, potentially, but benefitting the whole of society in any event.
The importance of family and the institution of marriage is self-evident. So much so, we take them for granted. We leave them undefended in the face of corrupt ideals.
Socialism views the family unit with contempt. It believes family is a means to an end, namely: a way of exploiting others and acquiring property for perpetual inheritance.
Leftist ideologues use false and foolish arguments to deny human nature. They attack and undermine family as the basis of society. Partly, they are resentful at seeing others living happy, wholesome lives. Partly, they wish to create a new utopian world of idleness. A fantasy land of make-belief where arrogant, authoritarian socialists reign supreme.
Yesterday’s socialists are today’s woke radicals. Miserable individuals who rejected the need for anchoring in the world, and connection in their lives, and now want to change society to reflect their mistake.
We should stand firm and defend the institutions that bring us meaning and value.
Labour Misleading Young People
We have an entire generation of young people in Britain with the potential to be supremely creative and successful.
Sadly, they are being led astray by a new breed of clout-chasing, workshy Labour politicians. Politicians not interested in lifting people up by inspiring ambition. But pulling people down by denigrating success.
They preach values of resentment and hopelessness to their base, particularly the young. Opposing capitalism. Belittling family life. Disparaging our flag. Our Queen. Our country. Demonising our heritage and our values.
It is a grotesque dereliction of duty. British kids deserve more from their politicians than clickbait. They deserve the truth.
Labour’s Short Term Swindle
What young people are being offered by Labour is a short-term swindle. Not a long-term solution. But Labour MPs cannot level with the next generation.
They cannot tell them life is hard or offer any meaningful advice. How could they? Going from university degree, to left-wing activist, to Labour MP is not that arduous a path. A career in Labour politics does not prepare a civic leader to speak candidly from experience.
That life is a marathon, not a sprint. That to get ahead, we must first take responsibility to improve ourselves. That success requires continual growth and incremental refinement. That hard work and courage is necessary to become a productive member of society.
An individual who not only deserves a decent income. But commands one.
British Kids Deserve The Best
I believe our next generation deserve the chance to have extraordinary futures. Inspired by simple, honest truths, based on timeless British – and Indian – values.
Values that are inalienable to humankind. Values of respect and responsibility. Self-improvement and hard work. Ambitious creativity and love of family.
Transforming powerful ideas of the mind, into tangible achievements in life, by acting constructively with physical endeavour. A modern philosophy for a modern world.
Competing In The World
I believe our best and brightest should be competing with youngsters from Switzerland to Singapore. From Mumbai to Shanghai.
I believe all young people deserve an equal shot to get ahead and try to be amongst our best and brightest. Decent life chances. Quality healthcare. Outstanding public education with a greater emphasis on maths and science.
And the confidence to build a creative outlet, or hold down a job, safe in the knowledge they are moving forward with purpose. Increasing their competence, value, and marketability. Building for themselves, with gritted tenacity and hard work, a future of happiness and contentment.
This is the life I built for myself. I want to help others do the same.
Proud To Be British
A Sense Of Gratitude
I have written previously about coming from a poor background. The son and grandson of Ugandan Asian refugees, who arrived in Britain with nothing, except for their Indian values. Timeless ideals, which reflected the values of British society back then, and still do today.
I was raised in a council home on free school meals. The first in my lineage born in the west. The first in my family to attend university. I made huge strides in my life, thanks to five key factors.
My family, faith, and cultural values. The welfare state, which my parents and I used as a safety net, and then, as a springboard. Many inspirational teachers in the state schools I attended, several of whom I still keep in-touch with.
My curious mind and work ethic. A desire to know the world and a drive to build a successful career. For instance, by working 12-hour night shifts in a casino to put myself through law school. A gamble that paid off.
But none of this would have been possible, were it not for the fact I was born in this incredible, generous country. The only place I have ever called home.
A nation where opportunities are plentiful and hard work and competence is rewarded. A society in which democratic norms and customs are sacrosanct, and dissent is tolerated, even from people who are consistently ungrateful.
And a land with a rich, beautiful history and proud cultural heritage. A heritage that deserves to be honoured and respected, warts and all. Held carefully, in our trust, and bequeathed to the future.
Respecting Britain’s Heritage
We have had two decades of turbulence. Geopolitical upheaval and economic instability. We are exhausted in this age of rolling news. Tethered to our smart phones. Sifting through complexity.
We mourn the loss of our fellow citizens. The loss of our freedoms. And an entire year of our lives. Sands of time, now blowing in the wind.
Life is moving fast for so many. There is an understandable sense of fear. Fear of not reaching our potential. Fear of being left behind. Fear of the unknown in a post-Brexit, post-pandemic world.
And fear of resentful, revolutionary ideas from elsewhere undermining our history – everything Britain has achieved – and jeopardising our future, by cancelling our values.
We should reject the new socialist agenda seeking to denigrate Britain’s past. The sacrifices made by so many who came before us, not least the ones in uniform.
Besmirching our nation’s history, and the traditions and institutions we have inherited, is not the way to achieve an integrated, multiracial society at peace with itself, and proud of its place in the world.
Contrary to the revisionist ramblings of left-wing radicals, we need not engage in mindless showboating and gutter politics. Instead, we can work to solve problems for ordinary voters. People who care more for positive change in their lives, than viral tweets from minor celebrities.
Looking To The Future
We can move forward together, without dividing communities. Multiple realities can exist simultaneously. We can appreciate, for instance, Britain’s working class is the backbone of this nation. Just as it was for Labour, before the party became a metropolitan, middle class guilt-trip.
The working people I grew up with in Leicester were good and decent folks who told it like it was. Displaying multiple England flags. Discussing immigration with a passing politician. Loyal to their community, and leading authentic lives, wanting the best for their children. More interested in the content of peoples characters, than in the colour of their skin.
We must recognise an entire generation of young people feel a profound sense of futility. Exorbitant education fees. Low salaries and insecure work. A high cost of living with rents, debts, and insurance premiums.
The future of our nation, to whom we shall bestow this land, priced out of the property market. Facing a hidden crisis of mental health as social media influencers, and socialists, rob their time with claims of fame, and easy fortune.
We can trust in the knowledge Britain’s cultural values – perfected slowly by generations of English, Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish families – and greatly enriched by millions of well-integrated minorities, are held in the hearts and souls of many Brits. People of all backgrounds.
A subtle, dignified patriotism. Not the insufferable American kind. Strong, enduring values. Our best bet in a dangerous and unpredictable world.
And we can accept we are a flawed, imperfect people. A nation where some individuals have suffered disadvantage, and discrimination, with hampered life chances. Where injustices linger, and should be addressed. Through strong equal rights, and, also, clear responsibilities.
Rights And Responsibilities
I did not endorse ‘Black Lives Matter’ last summer. It was hijacked by far-left extremists in America, with an anti-police agenda, and brought rampaging mobs to the streets of Britain.
That said, I believe Black lives should matter as equally as all other lives, and have not always done so. But I have not been showing-off on Twitter or getting on my knees.
Instead, I have been focusing my efforts in recent years – through my work in law, politics, and police regulation – to act constructively in the world, and bring about positive change.
For example, I have just finished a six year stint at the Independent Office for Police Conduct, where, amongst other things, I worked to address racism in policing. Far rarer now than it was, when Stephen Lawrence was tragically murdered, back in 1993.
Before that, at the Leicestershire Police Authority, I tackled the disproportionate stop and search of young Black men. Whilst also leading efforts to save more than 200 local policing jobs.
Before that, as a solicitor, I brought civil actions against police forces in discrimination cases. Whilst also defending individual police officers, wrongfully accused of racism and misconduct.
We do not have to choose between championing equal rights, or championing the justice system, which exists to mandate equal responsibilities. That is a false choice.
It is possible, and indeed, essential, to do both. As I have managed to do in my career.
Proud To Be Conservative
Rejecting False Claims
The Left claim to care about fairness. They want to change the world, externally. All too often they lack the ways and means to do it, as they have yet to master their own, internal world.
On the Right, we not only care about important issues, we are willing and able to do something about them. Without feeling the need to showboat or sow division in society.
This is the difference between being a left-leaning intellectual, lacking competence. And a right-leaning competent pragmatist, with an intellect in-tow.
Thanks to social media, we are now in constant electioneering mode. Thus, the Left is in constant anger mode. The hatred and hostility in our politics is mostly a one-way street. Left to Right.
Socialists behave disgracefully towards conservatives. Lashing out at the slightest infraction. Hurling abuse and false claims. Unable to control their emotions – but wanting to control our lives.
Their bitterness is often a projection of their own limitations. The Left cannot stand the fact one competent Tory can achieve what it takes multiple socialists to even attempt.
Taking Pride In Our Work
The Left think conservatives are uncaring and dispassionate. That we do not show enough emotion in our work. It is an incorrect, but understandable, perception.
We tend to be in better control of our emotions. We believe emotions are quite personal. And we do not see value in being distraught, when there is important work to do.
Most of the time conservatives are just busy getting on with the job. Working hard. Helping people. Solving problems. Fixing the mess caused by incompetent socialists.
Far too busy, in fact, to keep banging on about how compassionate and anti-racist we are. Which, as a pastime for Labour, is a weird thing to do. Surely, not being racist should be self-evident?
We show compassion by helping people to help themselves. We advocate personal growth and aspiration for all individuals, because it maintains good physical and mental health, and allows us to reach our full potential. But many do not see this, and the Left use it to their advantage.
Regrettably, actions do not always speak louder than words. If we want people to know we care about their lives, and the lives of their children, we should say so – loudly and with pride.
For we are the party of progress and benevolence. Competence and hard work. The party of responsibility, success, inclusivity, and family.
After 20 years of activism and public service, I resigned recently as a Labour member. I could no longer belong to an organisation that had become institutionally racist and anti-Indian. I could not support a party that had embraced left-wing extremism and become detached from the lives of ordinary working people.
By way of background, I am a lawyer from central England, and I did a considerable amount of work with the party over two decades: six years as a constituency officer; four years as a Leicester councillor; Police Authority member; parliamentary candidate (Harborough, 2015); council candidate (Birmingham, 2018); and four years as a national trade union branch leader – challenging abuse of power and saving jobs.
I was a loyal party member, but the party is no longer loyal to the people I come from.
In this article I outline the rise of anti-Indian bigotry in the party, and how Labour came to embrace authoritarian socialism, whilst pretending to care about the working class. I explain why Labour has a visceral hatred of British Indians and our values, and contempt for our beliefs.
I discuss the hypocrisy of socialism, and how the party founded by working people now advocates for intellectual idleness and resentment, over hard work and ambition. Finally, I set out why the new leadership will not salvage the party.
2. Sounding the alarm
Exactly 10 years ago I wrote a piece for Labour Uncut on why the party was losing the Hindu vote. In that article, penned in my capacity as Minorities Officer for Leicester West Labour, I urged the party to engage with British Indians, and not take the community and its votes for granted.
In the intervening years, I and many others fought to ensure Indian values were Labour’s values because, coincidentally, these reflected core British values as well.
Values of hard work and aspiration. Entrepreneurial spirit to build a better life. Passion for education and the pursuit of knowledge. Pride in one’s cultural traditions. Family belonging and community support. Fair play and self-sufficiency. Love of country and respect for its laws. Religious worship with tolerance for others. And the desire to live in a safe society, with a strong economy, and decent public services.
Sadly, the party chose not to listen to those of us who were sounding the alarm.
3. Increased anti-Indian bigotry
In recent years I have witnessed, or received evidence of, countless examples of anti-Indian bigotry and appalling behaviour within the Labour Party.
Indian-heritage Labour members have been routinely bullied by fellow Labour activists, with derogatory comments alongside labels such as ‘Hindutva’ – a term used in the same way Zionist is sometimes deployed in a disparaging way, when referencing Jewish people.
In fact, this was one of the frequent criticisms I faced from hard leftists, both before and after my Labour resignation, i.e. that I had some affiliation with the current Indian government. In reality, I have never been involved in Indian politics and, aside from taking an interest in important news stories, I have limited knowledge of Indian domestic affairs. But this kind of supposition, that dual-identity people have competing loyalties and hidden agendas, is part of the anti-Indian racism now embedded in Labour.
British Indian Labour members have also been prevented from participating fully in party meetings. Hindu and Sikh traditions have been mocked and insulted. And complaints of anti-Indian racism, submitted by friends of mine to Labour HQ, have been completely ignored – this includes two separate reports I sent to Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) in December 2017 and August 2019. (Later in this article I elaborate further on my 2017 complaint.)
In October and November 2019, as parliamentary selections got underway for the upcoming December election, the party machinery began working to disadvantage talented applicants of Indian heritage, in favour of hard leftists. This happened in diverse constituencies across the country, such as Ilford South, Ealing North, and – I should declare an interest – in Leicester East.
4. Corbynite corruption
As I said in my statement at the time of the Leicester East debacle, quite apart from the dodgy practices on Labour’s NEC – with press briefings of the result, in advance of the actual process – the outcome was yet another slap in the face for British Indians.
Two months after she chaired the emergency conference debate on Kashmir, where she had allowed disgusting anti-Indian rhetoric to be openly aired without challenge, Islington councillor and NEC member, Claudia Webbe, was gifted a parliamentary seat with one of the biggest Indian demographics in the country. It all felt a bit Shami Chakrabarti.
Although I was the first to speak out, I was not the only one appalled by the imposition of such a reprehensible candidate – someone who had been in-charge of the party’s now infamous disputes panel, and had a sketchy track record on anti-Semitism, as was demonstrated yet again as recently as June 2020.
Ultimately, there was a swing of 16% against the party in Leicester East, and Labour’s majority was slashed by 73% – turning a once safe seat into a marginal.
5. Clickbait over convictions
The trend among Labour’s hard leftists is to attack and undermine people for daring to voice opinions they find unpalatable. Not content in disagreeing with an individual’s ideas, these cancel culture crusaders seek to destroy the individual, often complaining to a person’s employer to get them sacked. This is the party of working people, lest we forget.
These Labour MPs falsely claimed Patel’s experience of racism was inauthentic. They stated, “Being a person of colour does not automatically make you an authority on all forms of racism”, whilst relying on that same ‘authority’ with which to chastise Patel.
The inexorable march towards clickbait over convictions is further proof of the brain rot now at the heart of Labour, although the explanation for how the rot set-in is a bit more complicated.
6. Embracing left-wing extremism
Ed Miliband’s leadership was a disaster. Not because he was a power-hungry soft-left dilettante, who conspired with hard leftists to beat his better-qualified brother, David, to the leadership, before going on to lose 26 seats. Although he was, and he did.
But because he changed the party’s rules to permit thousands of entryists to vote for his successor. Miliband’s tenure also emboldened thousands of existing members, who took the opportunity to relive their radical youth, by lurching fervently to the left.
Collectively, these individuals – the newcomers and the emboldened members – harboured various regressive beliefs and personal gripes.
First there were the far-left socialists, comprising utopians, anarchists and Marxists, plus all the various Marxist subsets i.e. Leninists, Trotskyites, Stalinists, Maoists etc. (If the Conservatives had done something similar, and cosied up to far-right fascists, such as the BNP or EDL, they would have been loudly condemned by all and sundry. It is to Labour’s eternal shame that such extremists were welcomed into the party.)
These left-wing ideologues were aiming for unachievable perfection at the expense of pragmatism and competence. Possessed by their ideas they believed, quite narcissistically, that despite all the bad theory they alone could fix the world, if only they had control.
Then there were the embittered leftist intellectuals. Highly intelligent, materially comfortable, mainly middle class people, who had not enjoyed the corresponding success in life they felt they were owed, as reward for their intelligence. In other words, smart individuals with an inferiority complex and a deep sense of resentment, having lived a life of passive inaction.
It was this marriage-of-convenience, between far-left revolutionaries and resentful intellectuals, which dragged the party into the socialist wilderness. They did this by repeatedly backing the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn: an inept third-rate politician, with a history of palling around with Hezbollah; and a man so anti-establishment, he has been drawing a parliamentary salary for nearly 40 years.
7. Crocodile tears for working people
The leftist ideologues and intelligentsia, as personified by Corbyn, falsely claimed to be democratic socialists or social democrats. In fact, they were revolutionary authoritarian socialists, an entirely different kettle of fish.
They came from mostly privileged backgrounds but pretended outwardly to be working class. They shed crocodile tears for the poor and downtrodden, whilst carrying entrenched values of anger, entitlement, snobbery and disloyalty.
They used the imagined grievances of ordinary people as a battering ram to try and tear down the British establishment; which, according to their warped mindset, was the root cause of all society’s problems. And they sought to win power to punish the rich; or, depending on one’s perspective, to punish aspirational workers.
Real working class individuals, like myself, who have either made it to the middle class or are aspiring to get there, never actually forget where we came from, or how tough it is to be poor.
We appreciate the freedom success can provide, and we do not view ambition in a negative light. We have an underlying sense of loyalty to our country, and to those British traditions which hard leftists are always so desperate to write-off, such as public spirit and civility, national sovereignty, English common law, the monarchy, the free press, the armed forces, family life, religious worship, private enterprise etc.
The truth is, if they are made to choose, British workers always put their country before their class, and they despise the disloyalty that only self-indulgent intellectuals can afford.
Despite controlling all the levers of power in Labour, and facing a government already in office for nine years, the socialist cult of Jeremy Corbyn failed to win a national vote – not once, not twice, but three times in succession – culminating in its 2019 election defeat, Labour’s worst performance in living memory.
8. Why is Labour anti-Indian?
There are several reasons why Labour has become anti-Indian, but fundamentally it is because the party’s values have changed. There has been a marked increase in hatefulness, resentment, and puritanical tyranny; and a decrease in valuing success and aspiration, tolerance of others, and respect for civil liberties.
This happened after the party abandoned the social democratic ideals of New Labour, and moved much further to the left, embracing authoritarian socialism with neo-Marxist identity politics.
New Marxism (or neo-Marxism) is a postmodern reinvention of classical Marxism. It continues to propagate the 19th century ideology, albeit under a different name for a different era; replacing the original social struggle between classes, with a new power struggle between identity groups.
It does this by dividing everyone into different identities, and then assigning each identity group into one of two fixed categories: the oppressed category or the oppressor category. Whereas classical Marxism pits the working class proletariat against the ruling class bourgeoisie, neo-Marxism pits ‘powerless’ oppressed victims against their supposedly powerful oppressors.
A person’s worth and prospects then, are determined not by their competence and skills, but by which identity group they belong to and how much power their group possesses. We are not complex individuals, living in families and striving to lead happy healthy lives; we are just bit-players in a false binary power struggle between faultless victims and evil rulers.
It is an oversimplified and self-evidently absurd way to categorise all human beings, but this is the politics of the new Identitarian Left.
British Indians, by virtue of our ingrained values, have climbed the socio-economic ladder within the space of one generation. From starting at the bottom, as newly arrived immigrants and refugees – as with my own Ugandan Asian family – to now being at the top, in terms of academic attainment and earning power.
Of course, this does not mean all 1.5 million British Indians think and behave the same way, or that we do not have varying lifestyles and challenges, like any other community.
But having tacitly adopted neo-Marxism as its guiding philosophy, Labour now views British Indians solely through the prism of wealth and status. The party sees that British Indians do not fall so readily (or even willingly) into the category of oppressed victims.
And so, Labour falsely equates the generic success and wealth of the diaspora, with that of an oppressive ‘ruling-class’ identity group.
Consequently, in the minds of many Labour members, British Indians are a legitimate target for racial abuse and prejudicial treatment. We have, quite simply, gotten above our station.
9. Hypocrisy and despotism
Paradoxically, identity politics is not the only explanation for Labour’s racism problem. The success of the Indian diaspora for example, to adapt and integrate in Britain, also poses a threat to the socialist narrative ‘right-wingers hate minorities and would never let them prosper’. This explains why British Indians on the right, even those who have risen to become Home Secretary, face disgusting relentless racism from the left.
Another aspect is quasi-religious. Whenever a Black or Asian person publicly refuses to play their historic role of victim, white authoritarian leftists are unable to play their preferred role of saviour. Ethnic minorities on the authoritarian left have the same Messiah Complex, but they can at least enjoy revelling in playing the role of racial gatekeeper: arrogantly proclaiming with zero authority who constitutes a ‘real’ person of colour (or faith).
All this impertinence, by refusing to know our place, leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of self-proclaimed anti-racists. In a glorious twist of fate and rank hypocrisy, they turn on minorities with racial epithets such as Uncle Tom or coconut. It is literal shorthand for a person of colour ‘acting white’ – revealing, quite beautifully, that in the one-dimensional minds of far-left racists, only white people can (and should) be successful, outspoken, free-thinking, and/or politically right-leaning.
This is the bigoted despotism of the left: professing solidarity for people of colour, but denying them agency; offering them political shelter, but without the freedom to refuse.
The explanation of course, is that authoritarian socialists and far-right fascists – the Identitarian Left and the Alt Right – are two sides of the same coin; the key difference being, socialists are a lot cleverer at hiding their hatred under a veneer of compassion.
10. Contempt for Indian beliefs
Another factor, in Labour’s hostility towards British Indians, is a question of faith. Hindu and Sikh beliefs are communal and compassionate, but also flexible and abstract. Like the British constitution or the Church of England, our religious customs and rituals evolve quietly in the background, adapting to suit the world in which we live.
Our ancestors did not come to here to undermine British values and change society to reflect our religions. In fact, British Indians are amongst the most integrated, because our mentality is one of gratitude and perseverance.
Socialists by contrast, tend to be atheistic or secular, which is no bad thing; secularism is the best way to organise a pluralistic society. But alongside the Godless façade of tolerating other people’s faiths, socialists have a hidden contempt for those of us who practice liberal religious traditions, and how we live our lives.
This concealed disdain is partly a by-product of socialists being smart rational people, acting in accordance with pseudo-scientific Marxist ideology. They cannot fathom the idea that true human freedom includes the freedom to act ‘irrationally’ and have irrational beliefs, or even act against one’s own self-interest.
And it is partly in response to the innate solidarity which exists in dharmic religions: a solidarity particularly strong amongst Non-Resident Indians living in global diasporas.
We, British Indians, tend to have large support networks from relatives and community organisations, and our festivities bind us together, irrespective of class and politics. There is no need for authoritarian leftists to rescue us therefore, and nobody has any patience for the age-old colonial trick of trying to divide-and-conquer our communities, on issues such as caste and Kashmiri separatism.
We have a built-in reverence for education and the power of knowledge, and our teachers (Gurus) are afforded the noblest social status. Labour’s descent from meritocracy to mediocrity, replacing equality of opportunity with equality of outcome – essentially rewarding laziness and incompetence, the same as hard work and competence – offers a grey drab mediocre future to the next generation. It is not an attractive proposition.
We pray to a Goddess of Wealth and a Lord of Success. During Diwali we hold rituals in temples across the world, where financial documents are blessed, and business relationships are developed. Labour’s regression to the left is the antithesis of what most British Indians and, indeed, ordinary working people have long since figured out: liberal capitalism has prevailed over socialist Marxism.
And, most importantly of all, we believe there is more to life than money and power, in that our greatest asset is family and relationships. Our culture places a high value on human connections and taking responsibility, and this has been shown comprehensively as a great way to ward-off social problems and deteriorating mental health, such as depression and addiction for instance.
Marxists by contrast are soulless materialists. They love property and money as much as capitalists, if not more so; they just happen to believe all the world’s problems would disappear, if only other people had the money.
11. Iron fist in a velvet glove
The dodgy dealings in Leicester East was not the first time I experienced the fraudulence of far-left socialists. In August 2017 I was selected as a Labour council candidate in the affluent ward of Harborne, Birmingham, for the May 2018 elections.
Almost immediately, hard leftists and local Momentum groups began a 9-month campaign of trolling and racial abuse. The selection process even had to be re-run a further two times in December 2017, because Momentum-backed challengers were threatening the Labour Party with legal action. They literally wanted to keep running the vote until the brown guy lost.
Thankfully, local members backed me with an increased majority each time, and I won all three selections on (and against) the trot. But having lost five months of campaigning time and made to fight a battle on two fronts – and despite leading my team to the second-highest contact rate in the whole of Birmingham – I did not get elected.
Throughout that period, from the first selection in August 2017 through to the election in May 2018, I was living in a hellish Twilight Zone. Officially my opponents were the Conservatives, but every bit of incoming fire was from my own side.
From shouting and character assassination at party meetings, to being berated at street stalls by thuggish Labour members; from factually incorrect blogs bordering on defamation, to an onslaught of personal abuse and racism via social media.
My 2017 complaint to the NEC never received a reply. Two of the worst offenders went on to become 2019 parliamentary candidates: in Shrewsbury (later ousted and replaced); and West Bromwich West. (A further complaint sent to Labour HQ in August 2019, regarding anti-Indian racism from Labour members in Leicester – at the time of the Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner selection – was also ignored.)
Although it was a dreadful experience, I have never spoken about it publicly until now, having first resigned from the party. This is a good example of the kind of conscience dilemma faced by many British Indian Labour members (and no doubt others too).
On the one hand, we avoid washing dirty linen in public, because of party loyalty and fear of giving ammunition to our opponents. On the other hand, our character and integrity are attacked and undermined, and our motives questioned, not for what we have said or done, but because of who we are, and the ethnic group we belong to.
My final four years as a Labour member was a love-hate relationship. Despite the incessant hatred from my own ranks, I loved campaigning alongside fellow moderates, and I sought positions of responsibility because I believed I could help to turn the tide of hatred and hostility in the Labour Party.
But post-Jeremy Corbyn I have come to realise the problem was not merely Corbynism – it was socialism. Socialism is an iron fist in a velvet glove: an oppressive totalitarian ideology, masquerading as a campaign for social justice.
Having been spread by its adherents, like an idea pathogen, socialism plagued the minds of many in Labour – seductively offering simple solutions for complex problems – not least by blaming entire ethnic groups as having clandestine motives; a standard socialist ploy, as evidenced by tens of millions of corpses strewn throughout the 20th century.
And so, we end in the grotesque chaos of a party founded by working people, becoming a hateful racist organisation; embracing intellectual idleness and resentment, over hard work and ambition.
12. The broad church illusion
The Labour Party is a valuable British institution. It has achieved a great deal in its 120-year history, most notably the National Health Service, and it has an important role to play in our democracy.
Labour’s moderates and social democrats are the party’s saving grace. These members are decent, pragmatic and hardworking. Unlike their socialist bedfellows, they consider people from other parties to be political opponents, not enemies. They believe in winning power to practice politics; not practicing politics to win power. They think proactively, using reason and logic; not reactively, with emotional rage. And they can differentiate between an individual and an individual’s opinions: attacking the ideas, without harming the person.
It is clear to me now that social democracy and socialism are entirely incompatible in today’s Labour Party. Concurrently seeking to emulate Scandinavia and the Khmer Rouge has proved quite troublesome.
But I do not believe enough sensible Labour people can see the wood for the trees, or indeed want to.
For one thing, too many Labour politicians are wholly reliant on the party to earn a living, and so have little incentive to rock the boat and speak the truth. Upsetting the membership could mean losing a job, in a situation not too dissimilar from the Republicans in America.
And for Labour’s moderates, learning the truth about socialism and its many atrocities throughout history, would shatter the illusion of a left-wing broad church, where everyone is basically good.
13. The future for Labour
What began under Ed Miliband, when Labour’s soft-left acted as cowardly apologists and enablers for socialism – allowing the authoritarian leftists to takeover and strangle all credibility from the party – is continuing under the new leadership.
Sir Keir Starmer is clearly an intelligent and respectable man. But he campaigned on certain pledges that were outdated and irrelevant, and he began his tenure by appointing several far-left racists to his shadow ministerial team.
And he did not land any significant punches on the government throughout the pandemic lockdown, choosing instead to be remembered in the public imagination for bending down on one knee for Black Lives Matter, before backtracking on what the stunt was supposed to mean.
The Labour Party may be under new management, but I do not believe Sir Keir and his team have the desire or courage to do what needs to be done.
Establish clear political boundaries. Disaffiliate from extremist unions run by well-fed tyrants. Proscribe Momentum and ban all extreme left-wing groups. And permanently expel tens of thousands of cranks and racists, including every single self-proclaimed ‘Socialist Labour’ MP.
14. The future for me
I got into politics for the same reason I got into law and regulatory work: to hold power accountable, to help those suffering injustices, to solve problems and protect jobs, and to uphold British values.
Playing identity politics and puerile power games, cowering to left-wing despots, and seeking to control and punish others with emotional tantrums – rather than respecting individual freedom, and persuading people with logic – is not my idea of a healthy political movement. But this is all Labour has to offer.
It has taken a great deal of time, and indeed a great toll, to make sense of the last few years, and broaden my knowledge of socialism and Labour’s decline. I feel liberated having removed my political shackles.
Ironically, if it had not been for the arrival in Labour of hard leftists and embittered intellectuals, who proceeded to castigate moderates and abuse minorities, I might never have spent a serious amount of time researching the core tenets of socialism, and understanding the psychology behind the ideology.
I owe my political emancipation then to authoritarian socialists. They motivated me to look afresh at the only party I have ever supported. Thanks to their anti-Indian, anti-Semitic and anti-worker sentiment, I have been spared the torment of bending my life in knots, trying to fit into a party that is not for me.
It is right and proper I repay my debt of gratitude in the coming months and years in the best Indian tradition of thoughtful protest.
Speaking out, openly and often, about the regressive racist left; and exposing the tyranny of socialism, as an embedded feature of the Labour Party.
I might even live up to the meaning of my name in Sanskrit. Bringer of Light.
After 20 years of Labour activism, during which I served as a councillor and stood for parliament, I am writing to cancel my party membership. It is hard to leave a surrogate family and risk losing political friends. But I must speak the truth and be able to look my own family and friends in the eye.
Today is India’s Independence Day. I am choosing to mark the occasion by leaving an organisation I know to be institutionally racist and anti-Indian. Also, I can no longer support a party that acts against the interests of working people, and is consistently embarrassed by Britain’s values and traditions.
As a British Indian, I am proud of both facets of my identity. My Indian heritage, rooted in Gujarati culture and Hindu values; and my sense of Britishness, growing up in white working class areas of Leicester, before representing outer estates in local government. Both these communities no longer matter to the modern Labour Party.
It is a sad indictment I should have to outline my background to reference the party’s bigotry and intolerance. But having lost its principles and all sense of direction, identity politics is the only language Labour now understands.
The party’s descent, from meritocracy to mediocrity, and its growing irrelevance to the lives of ordinary people, runs parallel with its increased anti-Indian, anti-Semitic and anti-worker sentiment of recent years. Playing racist power games and identity politics, whilst professing to care about the public good, is regressive and deceitful.
Post-Jeremy Corbyn I have come to realise the problem was not merely Corbynism, it was socialism. Socialism was the toxic oil spill that washed ashore, polluting the party with hatefulness and division. Traditional and moderate values were corroded by the rancid ideas of emboldened socialists: extreme left-wing ideologues, striving for unachievable perfection; and embittered intellectuals, desperate to offset lives of passive inaction.
Despite the election of Sir Keir Starmer, a respectable man who is not a deluded Marxist, I have seen no evidence that sensible values will be restored; and that socialism, as an oppressive totalitarian ideology, will be ditched forever.
Indeed, the drive towards clickbait over convictions is continuing, particularly by self-proclaimed ‘Socialist Labour’ MPs – and the soft-left apologists who prop them up. Tweeting to stoke emotional rage, rather than using logic and reason to offer solutions, is the inevitable brain rot of ideologues lacking pragmatism and real-world competence.
And so, having moved much further to the left, abandoning social democracy in favour of socialism, the party founded by working people has come to embrace intellectual idleness and resentment, over hard work and ambition.
My experiences of anti-Indian bigotry and racial abuse in Labour over the last four years, details of which I intend to publish soon, have made me extremely resilient and determined. I have honed my political voice and I plan to use it, particularly in support of those communities and values which the party has betrayed.
Ultimately, I may have chosen to be a Labour member, but I was born British Indian. My loyalty rests with the people I come from, and this great country of ours.
“I was disappointed not to be selected as Labour’s candidate for Leicester East. I want to thank my friends and supporters in the constituency. In my job I challenge abuse of power and corruption – and as a Labour member I fight injustice and unfairness. So I cannot stay silent on the obvious dodgy practices and nepotism involved in this process, where Labour’s ruling Executive chose a member of Labour’s ruling Executive, as the candidate.
NEC members are meant to be the referees in late selections, not divvy them up for themselves and be the beneficiaries. The fact that some journalists were briefed before applications had even opened that Claudia Webbe was to be gifted the seat, exposes the inherent unfairness of this sham contest. This type of conduct, where a well-connected favourite is nodded through, is no better than the Etonian old boys’ network that Labour seeks to condemn.
Worst of all, it is a slap in the face for the Indian community in Leicester and across Britain, to not only impose a non-Indian heritage candidate – in a seat with one of the highest Indian demographics in the country – but also a candidate who chaired Labour’s National Conference earlier this year when it passed an appalling anti-India motion. It sends entirely the wrong message and is an insult to the people I come from. It shows just how little the Labour Party values and respects the Indian community, particularly Hindus and Sikhs.
Any other decent candidate would have been suitable – it didn’t necessarily have to be me. But by selecting such an inappropriate candidate for Leicester East, Labour has chosen to rub salt into the wound it has created amongst British Indians. Labour is taking the Indian vote for granted and I condemn this crooked outcome.”
On Monday 8 January 2018 the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will cease to exist. In its place the new Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) will be established.
For my part I had planned to celebrate this momentous occasion by taking a much-needed week off work and heading to New York for a series of educational visits, lectures, receptions and social events, as a guest of my old law school (De Montfort University).
Sadly, Mother Nature had other plans! So after spending two days enjoying the sights and sounds of Heathrow Airport, here I am: back to reality and blogging about my employer on a Sunday. Life is good!
In all seriousness I am very proud to be employed by such an important and reputable organisation. Indeed, I pay tribute to the incredibly dedicated people I work with, who, like most public servants in our country, are overworked and underpaid for what they do. The smooth running of our society is reliant on hardworking and patriotic civil servants, who go above and beyond their call of duty every single day.
I have written this blog as a kind of personal tribute and potted history of the organisation that employed me. It is written solely in a private capacity. I do not speak for my employer and nobody should assume otherwise. I do, however, speak for myself, and my right to do so – as well as yours – is enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as incorporated into the Human Rights Act 1998.
In this blog I shall talk about:
My current role and previous work around policing
The Police Complaints Board (PCB) and the Police Complaints Authority (PCA)
The murder of Stephen Lawrence and the Macpherson Report
Founding of the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC)
The IPCC’s size and structure, its scope and operations, and its impact
IPCC investigations and criticism of its work
The new Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)
Within my organisation I currently have a dual role: leading investigations into potential or alleged police wrongdoing; and heading up our national PCS Union branch, which means I lead a team of trade union officials, working to protect the jobs and interests of hundreds of union members. I also lead national pay negotiations for all staff annually.
Interestingly my career keeps bringing me back to policing in some form or another, although I have never actually served as a police officer.
When I was younger I did four years voluntary service as an Independent Custody Visitor in Leicester, where – as a member of the public – I would visit police stations randomly to check on the welfare of detained persons.
As a solicitor I have both taken actions against the police, and also worked on behalf of the Police Federation, to defend police officers. As a city councillor in Leicester I served on the Board of the Leicestershire Police Authority, where my biggest achievement was leading efforts to help save more than 200 local policing jobs. And then in late 2014 I accepted a job offer with the IPCC.
I think it’s fair to say most people will have heard of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and most people would have some idea of the high level role it played in the police complaints system.
On reflection I suppose it was the organisation’s unique and important function that appealed to me and made me to want to work for it.
I consider myself to have a healthy skepticism of authority. That is to say, I believe everyone in a position of power – be it police, politicians, the press, or any other professional for that matter – should be answerable for the way they work and exercise power, especially when it comes to affecting peoples’ lives.
There must be robust and transparent scrutiny of what powerful people do, especially if and when something goes wrong. Indeed, it is part and parcel of living in a functioning modern democracy, right up there with upholding the rule of law and having a free press.
In terms of the IPCC’s background there were two main predecessor organisations.
In the mid-1970s, following a series of scandals involving the Metropolitan Police – and a perceived lack of independence in the police complaints system – the Police (Complaints) Act of 1976 was passed, and on 1 June 1977 the Police Complaints Board was established.
Until the creation of this body, complaints against police forces were handled directly by forces themselves, although the Home Secretary could refer serious complaints to alternate forces.
The Brixton riots in 1981, and the subsequent Scarman report – which investigated allegations of police racism – increased societal pressure to reform the Police Complaints Board.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 abolished the PCB and, in its place, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) was established a year later, with increased powers to actively supervise internal investigations being run by police forces.
What these organisations lacked however – both the PCB and later the PCA – was the clout to robustly scrutinise police complaints, or even carry out independent investigations.
The Police Complaints Authority was replaced by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which was formally created in 2004. In-fact it was established on April Fools’ Day to be precise! (No comment.)
The chain of events, which ultimately saw the creation of the IPCC, was arguably put into motion some 11 years earlier on the evening of Thursday 22 April 1993.
On that fateful night Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year-old black man from Lewisham, was attacked – along with his friend Duwayne Brooks – in what was a racially motivated act of violence, as they waited at a bus stop.
Stephen was stabbed twice, in the right collar bone and the left shoulder, and he sadly died of his injuries from massive blood loss. Following a catalogue of perceived failings by the Metropolitan Police, and as well as vocal public anger and political uproar, the then Home Secretary Jack Straw ordered an inquiry led by Sir William Macpherson.
The Macpherson Report, published in 1999, branded the Metropolitan Police Service as “institutionally racist”. The report made 70 recommendations and this included the setting up of a new ‘Independent Police Complaints Commission’.
It is fair to say then, that the IPCC was conceived in an atmosphere of societal discord and political wrangling. But it is also the case that big changes often have a contentious backstory. Something serious usually goes wrong for people to agree that something needs to change.
The key differences between the IPCC and its predecessor bodies were its size and structure, the scope of what it did, the way it operated, and its impact on policing. I’ll now expand a little in each of these areas.
In my opinion the best way to explain the structure of the outgoing IPCC is to think about it in the same way you would a school. In most schools there are two professional groups of people working alongside each other: teachers and governors.
In a similar way the IPCC had an operational structure, with staff members who ran the organisation and did the frontline work, just like teachers. It also had Commissioners – about a dozen or so – who were the public-facing administrators of the IPCC: holding the leadership to account and setting the direction of travel, not too dissimilar to school governors.
The only glitch with that analogy is that, unlike school governors, IPCC Commissioners were actively involved in making key decisions in investigations and appeals. And, if we were to expand the analogy somewhat, this was akin to school governors going into classrooms to teach lessons from time-to-time.
These blurred working practices within the IPCC perhaps serve to explain why, at least in part, the organisation had to undergo a major revamp.
Overall, the organisation – or at least its constituent parts, which shall continue working in the new structure – has surprisingly few staff for the important role that it plays throughout England and Wales. There are only about a thousand employees located across seven sites, with a Head Office in London, and then six further offices in Birmingham, Cardiff, Croydon, Sale, Wakefield and Warrington.
The core business of the IPCC insofar as the public is concerned – as well as policing professionals, politicians and the press – has been to oversee the police complaints system in England and Wales, and to increase public confidence in policing.
Referrals to the IPCC took a number of forms and, whilst members of the public sometimes got in touch directly, usually it was police forces which routinely referred themselves for scrutiny.
These were either voluntary referrals or mandatory referrals, depending on the seriousness of the matter. For example, all deaths and serious injury cases involving the police in any way required a mandatory referral.
Building on the remit of its predecessor organisation, the IPCC could choose to either supervise or manage a force’s internal investigation (into its own officers/staff). Complainants also had the right to appeal to the IPCC in order to have the outcome of their complaint reconsidered.
Perhaps the broadest new power given to the IPCC, upon its founding some 14 years ago, was that of carrying out independent investigations – run entirely by the organisation itself – and using its own investigators.
For ease of reference, and in simple terms, it’s best to imagine the system as a four-layered pyramid. The bottom layer was local investigations. These were low-level complaints that were investigated by forces themselves.
The second layer was supervised investigations. These were carried out by police forces themselves as well, but in accordance with the terms of reference set down by the IPCC.
The third layer was managed investigations. These were carried out by police forces, but under the direction and control of the IPCC. And finally, at the top of the pyramid, there were independent investigations carried out by the IPCC.
The vast majority of independent investigations were serious and sensitive cases and usually fell into one of three different categories: 1) serious complaints; 2) serious conduct cases – so for police officers this meant potential breaches of the Standards of Professional Behaviour (contained in the Police Conduct Regulations); and 3) serious injury and / or death, either involving the police or following police contact.
When an independent investigation was declared, and once the parameters were clearly defined, the IPCC and its investigators had ownership and jurisdiction.
Arguably in some ways the IPCC was a bit like a law enforcement agency, with its own set of powers, fully trained investigators and support staff, equipment and resources, interview rooms, fleet vehicles etc.
But in reality it only ever functioned as a civilian oversight body: monitoring the police complaints system at arm’s length from government, and run entirely independently of all police forces and law enforcement agencies.
I have always felt that the organisation’s leadership and staff were pretty well-grounded, taking their roles and responsibilities very seriously. I also believe that the IPCC has operated as a pre-eminent public body, keeping an eye on the state, and providing a tangible check-and-balance on the way that police power was exercised when dealing with citizens.
Of course the IPCC was not perfect. No organisation ever is. But it did have a set of core values by which the organisation and its people were meant to abide. These were: justice and human rights; independence; valuing diversity; integrity; and openness – indeed, it is in the spirit of openness that I have written this article!
Despite its good intentions however, the IPCC sometimes came in for criticism when things went wrong, or if its own staff overstepped the mark.
The organisation clearly had its wings clipped in the famous 2014 case of the IPCC v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire (and others). In that judgement, the Court of Appeal held that contrary to how the IPCC had been operating, it could no longer express conclusive findings on whether or not a police officer’s conduct had been unlawful and / or unreasonable.
So instead, the IPCC – and Lead Investigators like me – had to confine ourselves to stating only whether an officer had a case to answer for misconduct, or if a CPS referral needed to be made, rather than appearing to pass any sort of judgement.
Here we have an example of where a body that had been tasked with keeping the police in-check, also itself had to be kept in-check, by an independent judiciary upholding the rule of law.
In my view this merely serves to illustrate that any person or public body exercising power and authority has the potential to overstep the mark and exceed its remit, sometimes even unintentionally, which further proves my earlier point.
Now as we acknowledge the passing of the institution known as the IPCC, let’s look briefly at the future of the organisation, and the changes that lie ahead.
Firstly, as we have seen from the inception of the PCB in 1977, to the PCA in 1985, and then later the IPCC in 2004: the trend is steadily upwards when it comes to increased public scrutiny of state power – as personified by the police.
The new Independent Office for Police Conduct will have greater powers and a bigger remit than the outgoing IPCC. This is not entirely surprising bearing in mind the expanding size of the state, catering to an ever-increasing and diverse population.
In 2017, another small organisation was incorporated into the organisation’s remit, in that the IPCC began regulating the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.
This was in addition to the IPCC’s existing role in investigating serious complaints against HM Revenue and Customs, the National Crime Agency, Police and Crime Commissioners, and Home Office special enforcement staff, not to mention the 43 police force areas of England and Wales, and other specialist police forces also.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) shall come into existence on Monday 8 January 2018. The IOPC will have a range of new powers, including the power to present cases at disciplinary hearings, and the power to proactively call-in matters that it wants to investigate, rather than just waiting for matters to be referred in.
One of the other big changes taking place in the new IOPC will be the removal of all Commissioners – the aforementioned public-facing governors – and the move towards a single operating structure and line of accountability.
Incorporated into the IOPC operating model will be new Regional Directors for every English region and a Director for Wales, and as well a new Director General instead of a Chief Executive.
So it’s clear there are many big changes in the pipeline.
Some 40 years after the first public body was established, to look into complaints against the police, we are set to see a bigger, emboldened, more powerful and proactive regulatory agency, scrutinising the work of the police, and other public bodies.
This is what Parliament voted for, in the public interest, and I think it is a good thing.
In-fact, I would go further and say that in addition to the general public, all policing professionals should want to see a new regulator like the IOPC. It is in the interests of decent hardworking people, of every background, to want to have high quality, transparent and constructive oversight of their profession.
As a solicitor by background myself, I always welcomed seeing the Solicitors Regulations Authority stepping in to root out solicitors who had unlawfully taken client monies, or completely failed to adhere to client instructions. I suspect most police officers and staff would take a similar view in respect of their own profession.
In closing, I wanted to take a moment to mention a particular police officer who really stood out to me over the last year, and no doubt to countless others.
His name was PC Keith Palmer and he was a 48-year-old police constable serving with the Metropolitan Police Service. He had a wife, named Michelle, and a 5-year-old daughter.
In April 2016 PC Palmer was assigned to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Group. Less than a year later, on 22 March 2017, as PC Palmer stood guard protecting the parliamentary estate – the very heart of our democracy – a fascist Islamist with warped beliefs went on a rampage, killing four pedestrians whilst driving a vehicle at high speed along Westminster Bridge.
The terrorist crashed his car into the parliamentary perimeter fence, before abandoning it, and running into New Palace Yard, attempting to access Westminster Palace itself.
As most people understandably ran from the danger, PC Palmer stood up to it, taking the brunt of the violence. PC Palmer lost his life that day, but his heroic efforts slowed down the attacker, and almost certainly saved the lives of other people.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to PC Palmer, and countless other men and women like him – both civilian and military – without whom we would not be able to enjoy the rights and freedoms that we have.
I think it is incumbent on us all never to take those freedoms for granted, and never to lose sight of the fundamental pillars that make up British democracy, such as the rule of law – and holding power accountable in the public interest.
The trouble with beliefs that strive for purity and perfection — religious fundamentalism, extreme veganism, communism / hard left, fascism / hard right etc. — is that these ideologies fail to understand people and fail to understand human relationships.
Thus, in their quest for a pure and perfect humanity, these warped minds abuse and attack those who do not submit to their totalitarian way of life.
The irony, of course, is that they profess to have a deep well of compassion for their fellow human beings.
Whereas, in reality, they are entirely heartless and entirely intolerant of dissent.
They view and treat dissenters — anyone who disagrees with them — as unworthy, and entirely disposable; human collateral damage, justifiable for the greater cause and the glory days to come.
But being intolerant of dissent means being hostile to new information. It means closing one’s mind to fresh ideas and alternative thinking.
In effect, it is akin to saying “I know all there is to know — and I need no additional knowledge.” It is a cessation of learning and an embrace of ignorance.
Today, we can see the politics of ignorance at play in Trump’s America, in Brexit Britain, and in authoritarian regimes across the world.
It is high time that decent, intelligent, compassionate people fought back and reclaimed the future direction of our shared humanity.
We cannot go into the New Year and beyond allowing fanatics to divide us and tear us down, as they infect our social discourse and our politics with their rancid indifference.
All of us as human beings are imperfect, flawed, beautiful and fragile.
We have but 80 or 85 years on this Earth, if we’re lucky, and we owe it to future generations to try to leave the world in a considerably better state than it is today.
And so that is my wish for 2018 and, I hope, the shared aspiration for many millions of good people.
In mid-2015 my entire world came crashing down. Everything I understood about life and my purpose on this journey was shattered in an instant.
Thankfully most of us have an extraordinary ability to adapt and rebuild. To salvage strength from adversity. To find happiness from deep sorrow. A remarkable study by Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert demonstrates precisely this. Our ability to feign happiness and trick our minds into becoming happy once again is a built-in human trait.
It’s how prisoners are able to cope with prolonged incarceration. It explains why those with very little can lead normal fulfilling lives. And it’s how most of us are able to dust ourselves off and move on in life if we don’t get the job we want or if an important relationship breaks down.
So, I’m able to share this story thanks to my genetics – our shared genetics – and the fact I have managed to rebuild my shattered world.
As a former city councillor and parliamentary candidate it’s fair to say politics has always been a big part of my life. I was one of those weird 90s teenagers who preferred Newsnight over Neighbours, and Channel 4 News over Changing Rooms.
My passion for politics began at an early age. Indeed, it is part of my own family history. I am the son and grandson of Ugandan Asian refugees who arrived in the UK with nothing, following the 1972 expulsion ordered by Idi Amin. This was a major political event, an African holocaust in the making.
Thanks to the intervention of the British government – and the compassion of the British people – thousands of lives were saved, including those of my family.
My parents and grandparents chose to settle in Leicester and I was born and raised on the St Matthew’s council estate. Life was incredibly tough and we experienced great hardship. As my father struggled to find work and provide for his young family, food was often scarce and new clothes were always a luxury.
Luckily, although my upbringing was extremely poor, my family was able to survive – and later thrive – thanks to our cultural values, and thanks in-part to our welfare state. We had a home with help from the council. Healthcare was free and easily accessible. And I had free school meals for much of my early education.
My grandparents were a big part of our family life and I frequently sat on the sofa with both of my grandfathers to watch the news whenever it was on. My maternal grandfather in particular was an avid news watcher. He would always explain to me the nature and relevance of world events.
As I grew up I began to understand more and more each day that we lived in an unjust world. I saw there were countless other families and children in Britain and elsewhere who were also suffering disadvantage and discrimination.
Looking back I think it was at the age of around 8 or 9 where, having experienced injustice – both first hand and vicariously – a seed was planted in my head; not only that politics was really important, but decisions made by powerful people could affect many lives.
I was incredibly lucky to be taught by some very kind teachers and several of them clearly saw something in me. At age 12 I was encouraged to get involved in student politics at Babington Community College, representing my class and later my year group on the student council. At Regent College when I was 16 another teacher prompted me to stand in the NUS elections and I was elected Vice President of the student body.
Over the following 10 years my passion for politics and my desire to help people, particularly those who were being badly treated, continued to grow.
I went to Brunel University in London to study politics and history. I became an active member of the Labour Party. And after finishing law school I qualified as a solicitor, helping some of the poorest people in society have access to justice.
All the while I would share my achievements and happy milestones with my family, but especially with my grandfather; the man who kick-started my interest in politics, and the only person who really enjoyed watching Question Time as much as I did.
As it happened, I was the first non-white politician ever elected at any level to represent Beaumont Leys, a predominantly white working class area of Leicester. But for me this wasn’t particularly noteworthy at the time. It was the area I had grown up in and gone to school. White working class people were my community and it was now my job to fight for their interests.
Over the course of my 4-year term I worked incredibly hard to solve disputes, champion various causes, save jobs, and make a positive difference. By my early 30s it seemed a sensible next step to seek a wider political role, and continue putting my beliefs and values into practice, working to help people and challenge injustice.
In August 2014 I was selected as a parliamentary candidate for the Harborough constituency in Leicestershire. I was set to stand for a national political party in a UK general election. It was a surreal moment, but something that my friends, family and teachers had predicted since I was a teenager.
In reality, the prospect of me becoming an MP in 2015 was very slim. The constituency was a safe seat for the incumbent Conservatives. Nevertheless I persisted and from January 2015, right through to early May, we ran the most exciting and enjoyable election campaign the constituency had ever seen.
A relatively dormant local party was enthused and revitalised. My team and I attended public demonstrations and campaign events. I took part in hustings and debates at the secular society, a Hindu community group, the chamber of commerce, and the National Farmers Union.
For the first time in years we ran council candidates on every ballot paper and in every ward. And I took dozens of activists with me to campaign in marginal constituencies across the East Midlands, helping my party’s candidates in key winnable seats.
Whenever I had a few spare hours I’d pop over to see my grandfather to update him on the latest polls and campaign events and generally put the world to rights.
We even sat together on his couch and watched the Leaders’ Question Time debates on Thursday 30 April 2015. Sadly, it was to be the last time I’d see him alive.
On Wednesday 6 May 2015, the day before the general election, we received a distressed call from one of my aunts. She said my grandfather was unwell and told my parents to get over to the house. I was upstairs on the computer, oblivious to what was going on.
A frantic phone call from my father 20 minutes later spurred me into action and I began getting ready to head over to my grandfather’s house.
It was one of those strange moments, which many people will have experienced, where an otherwise ordinary day becomes extra-ordinary. We experience time in slow motion, with heightened senses, and remember every little detail.
Before I had the chance to put on my shoes another call confirmed the awful news. My grandfather had died. His heart had suddenly stopped working and he had collapsed at home. His name was Jayantilal Narsidas Dattani and he was 80 years old.
I’ve always found it strange how we experience the death of a loved one. It’s as if the whole world stops turning and nothing makes sense any more. It even angers us to see other people carrying on with their lives, chatting, laughing, behaving as if everything’s normal. Grief is a complex emotion.
The suddenness of my grandfather’s passing hit me very hard. Not just because I had lost someone whom I loved so dearly. But because this was the man who had inspired me to dedicate so much of my life to politics.
It didn’t make sense for this to be happening the day before the general election. We were supposed to be experiencing the election together. We were meant to discuss my result and consider the next steps.
In the Hindu tradition a death prompts the beginning of two weeks of prayer and rituals at the home of the deceased, with extended family coming together to support one another.
On election day therefore, I was away from my campaign team and the constituency. I spent the morning covering my grandfather’s lounge with sheets and helping to rearrange furniture to prepare for the inevitable visitors coming to pay their respects.
Soon after 10pm, once the polls had closed, I forced myself to shave and put on a suit and made my way over to the result counting venue – a dreary leisure centre, as is the norm in British elections.
During that election count – as night turned to day – I experienced a roller coaster of emotions, not least because of the many surprising results from around the country. On a personal level I was blown away by the compassion shown to me by my political rivals, including the incumbent Member of Parliament, who went on to be re-elected.
Unfortunately Harborough was the last constituency in the East Midlands to declare its result. We were up all night and I gave my concession speech at 9.30am on Friday morning.
We managed to come in second overall, and it was the best result for my party locally since the 1979 election, which was before I was even born.
I didn’t immediately know it at the time, but the events of those two days – my grandfather’s sudden death and the exhaustion of election night – had a hugely consequential impact on my life.
In the short term I experienced a crisis with my mental health. I was signed-off from work for several weeks with bereavement-related stress.
Up until that point I had never experienced any problem with my mental health and, if truth be told, I never really used to believe a mental health problem could be as debilitating as a physical health problem. This was the first of my epiphanies.
In the longer term my life was completely changed by those 48-hours. My world was knocked off its axis, causing me to re-evaluate everything, not just in my own reality but philosophically as well.
It prompted me to engage on a journey of discovery. To try to make sense of life and our purpose here on Earth. To learn more about humanity and understand our place in the known universe.
Most importantly of all, I learnt to truly value family bonds and friendships much more than my career and ambition.
In this new age of social media, with constant global news coverage and information overload, I have come to realise that our most meaningful relationships – with the people we care deeply about – are the best way to stay grounded. To be happy.
And to find the strength we need to work hard to make this a better world.
“I have decided to step down as a Leicester City Councillor in May 2015 to focus on my parliamentary election and my new full time job. It has been a huge privilege to serve as a Labour and Co-operative Councillor for my home ward of Beaumont Leys, the place where I grew up and went to school.
I have worked extremely hard over these last four years to help local people and represent their views and interests on the Council.
As the son and grandson of Ugandan Asian refugees it was a particular honour, on the 40th anniversary of the expulsion, to bring a motion in Council recognising the contribution Ugandan Asians have made to our city and our country.
On a personal note it was also quite wonderful to drive my parents to the polling station on 5 May 2011 so they could vote for me – or at least they said they did!
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Councillor and I believe I have made a positive contribution. I would like to thank Liz Kendall MP, Cllr Vijay Riyait, my fellow Leicester Labour Councillors, and all my family and friends for their support and guidance.
I also want to thank Beaumont Leys Labour members for selecting me, and Beaumont Leys residents for electing me, back in 2011. I will fulfil my duties for the remainder of my term but I will not be seeking re-election to the Council in 2015.”
** Scroll down for updated comments following the Make Leicester British broadcast **
I first found out about Channel 4’s ‘Make Leicester British’ documentary when I saw the trailer a few weeks ago. Many Leicester people including me have serious concerns about the way in which this programme will portray community relations in our city when it is aired on Monday night.
For one thing the trailer begins with the following statement: “In one of Britain’s most diverse cities immigration polarises opinion.” Most of us in Leicester know this is a lie. ‘Polarises’ is a very strong word. It implies there are major disagreements in our city and that immigration is a huge issue for local people. This is simply untrue.
The trailer then cuts to further statements from two different individuals: a man says “English society is losing its identity”; and a woman is then seen to say “I do not want any more people coming into this country; enough is enough!”
These are clearly very provocative statements, although I’m advised the programme will not be as inflammatory as the trailer would seem to suggest. Indeed it appears the trailer has been specifically designed to cause a reaction (and it worked) as well as to whip up a frenzy of viewers on Monday night.
It’s disappointing but unsurprising that Channel 4 regularly broadcasts controversial programmes such as this. ‘Benefits Street’ is another example.
Channel 4 would have us believe they are a bastion of liberal media and a guardian of social justice and equality in Britain. In reality Channel 4 is a commercial organisation and in the end it all comes down to profits and advertising revenues. The higher the viewing figures; the greater the income stream.
Immigration is one of many important issues we care about here in Leicester. But our people and our politicians do not talk irresponsibly about immigration or seek to blame immigrants for the ills of society. Leicester people by and large know that societal problems tend to stem from Tory policies, both past and present, which have always disproportionately favoured very rich people and big corporations.
In any event I think it’s a disgrace that the programme is called “Make Leicester British”. As my friend and Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth tweeted recently “Leicester, proud of our rich diversity, already is British.”
It is extremely offensive for the programme makers and for Channel 4 to suggest our city is not British, or that our ‘Britishness’ has somehow been diluted by the arrival of immigrants, be it from Poland, Somalia, or anywhere else. We also don’t appreciate having some middle class, middle aged, middle management types from London defining what Britishness means to our people and our city.
In regards to the programme I think it’s highly unlikely a bunch of journalists from London visiting Leicester for a couple of weeks – who handpicked participants for an edited 90-minute broadcast – will have gained a sufficient understanding or experience of our beautiful city, our rich heritage, our cultural diversity, and the unity of our people. But let’s wait and see what kind of footage they put out on Monday night.
‘Make Leicester British’ will be shown on 3 November 2014 at 9pm on Channel 4
Having now watched ‘Make Leicester British’ I can make the following observations.
Just a few minutes into the broadcast I knew it would be utter garbage. The narrator referred to Leicester as a divided city, which is an outright lie. In-fact the programme was full of lies, i.e. claiming there were 53 mosques in Leicester when there are actually around 30.
I feel vindicated for having serious concerns about the way in which the programme would portray Leicester people. But I also knew the documentary was produced by the same people who gave us ‘Benefits Street’.
This was manufactured gutter television of the lowest order, designed to create controversy, boost ratings and advertising revenues, and advance the interests of the programme makers – not the political issues or the participants.
The show was sensationalist drivel passed off as a documentary. It entirely failed to reflect the true face of Leicester people. To top it off these visiting London journalists had the audacity to try to define what Britishness should mean to our city and our people.
Ultimately 8 days of footage was edited into 90 minutes of viewing to paint a particular narrative. Specifically, the programme makers wanted us to believe Leicester is divided and that immigration is a major issue in our city; neither of which is true.
The producers handpicked the participants and seemingly opted for people who held extreme views. Whilst this may have made good television – in the eyes of the programme makers – sadly all it demonstrated was that this was never meant to be a sensible, thought-provoking or reasonable documentary about immigration and its associated issues.
There was no factual discussion of the positive aspects of immigration, such as the fact immigrants have contributed more than £25 billion to the British economy. There was also no discussion of the welfare payments asylum seekers receive, which is a maximum of £36 per week.
Overall it was a disgraceful distortion of our city and our people. The programme entirely failed to properly debate the important issue of immigration in a mature and rational way. By ending with a few pithy examples of participants learning the error of their ways, this tacky programme tried to harvest some sense of dignity, and justify the need for its production.
It failed miserably on all counts and I’m sure most Leicester people would agree with me.
I was delighted to visit Gartree High School on Friday 26 September 2014. I had been invited by the Oadby and Wigston Hindu Community to join them in celebrating Navratri, a wonderful 9-day festival of dance which is important to many Hindus, Sikhs and Jains.
It was a pleasure to meet and speak with hundreds of local residents enjoying the festivities. I talked about the meaning of Navratri and I congratulated the committee and the community for putting on such a successful event.
I spoke about my parliamentary candidacy in 2015 and our local Labour candidates also standing for election in Oadby and Wigston. I got the sense that local residents are optimistic about the future and eager to see change. People want politicians who understand them and are prepared to stand up for their values and beliefs.
After I spoke many people thanked me for visiting and some even congratulated me on the quality of my Gujarati! I was incredibly impressed to see the local Hindu community come together to organise events such as this, which are entirely self-funded and staffed by volunteers. The Oadby and Wigston Hindu Community are doing brilliant work locally and I look forward to supporting them in the months and years ahead.
Published in the Leicester Mercury newspaper on 9 July 2014
Sugar is toxic and highly addictive. If the latest medical science is correct – and I firmly believe it is – we are sleepwalking into a monumental public health crisis.
I am not a medical expert; I am a lawyer. This article is based on the work of Professor Robert Lustig, a scientist and doctor whose research has been internationally acclaimed. My analysis of his findings shocked me into drastically reducing my own sugar intake. As a public servant I feel duty bound to raise awareness of this issue.
26% of Brits are obese and a further 38% are overweight. By 2050 more than 50% will be obese. Most of today’s primary school children will be obese adults.
Obesity is dangerous because it causes metabolic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure etc. Average weight people get sick from these too, but obese people are at far greater risk.
There are different types of sugar such as lactose, maltose, glucose and fructose. At a molecular level, regular sugar (sucrose) is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Aside from sugar, fructose is found in honey, agave, maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, and fruit juice. It is also in fruit but fruit’s perfectly safe to eat as it comes with fibre and other nutrients.
Glucose sugar is the ‘energy of life’ and an essential nutrient. Fructose sugar on the other hand, according to Professor Lustig, is the root of all evil.
The research indicates fructose is bad for several reasons. It is not properly processed by the body and mostly stored as dangerous internal fat. Fructose does not supress the hunger hormone ghrelin, leading to overeating. Chronic fructose exposure reduces the impulse to burn excess energy. Fructose is also extremely addictive, activating the same area of the brain as morphine, cocaine, nicotine and alcohol.
In summary, sugar and fructose in particular is a major contributing factor for obesity, which in-turn leads to metabolic diseases.
To me the logic and science is pretty clear. Millions of British people may be overweight or obese because they have been hoodwinked about the dangers of sugar, with tonnes of it having been added to everyday food and drink, over many years.
It is too simplistic to blame individuals. This isn’t about personal responsibility. That’s what everyone said about smoking until it became a public health disaster. The reality is that the sugar industry is the new tobacco industry.
Parliament needs to act because the industry will not. I urge every reader to demand action from their MP. I also sincerely recommend seeking medical advice with a view to reducing personal sugar intake.
Published in the Leicester Mercury newspaper on 27 June 2014
Many people were alarmed by the recent Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham. A “culture of fear and intimidation” had been created in several schools by hardline Islamists, and there was evidence of an “organised campaign to target certain schools”, according to Ofsted.
We should not make excuses for what happened in Birmingham and we should not brush it under the carpet. It is good that these unauthorised practises have been uncovered and it is right that steps are taken to address the issue.
The schools in question were not faith schools: they were secular schools being run by the local Council and by academy trusts. If they had been faith schools however, then a lot of what was found to be unacceptable would still be going on.
Public appetite for faith schools has diminished significantly. A survey by Opinium found that 58% of people believe faith schools should be abolished and 70% think they should not be state funded.
The central argument against faith schools is that young impressionable children are often taught to accept untruths as truths and to assimilate information through the prism of religion.
Newsnight recently featured a report on 30 private Christian faith schools, where children are taught that evolution isn’t true, and that the earth is only a few thousand years old. This of course contradicts the overwhelming evidence we have which proves that evolution is real and the earth is 4.54 billion years old.
Although the government has banned creationism from being taught in our 7,000 state-funded faith schools, private faith schools continue to operate as a law unto themselves.
Insofar as state funding for faith schools is concerned, to me it seems irrational and counter-intuitive. We don’t allow Council tenants to be housed on the basis of faith or NHS hospitals to have different wards for different religions.
Yet with state-funded faith schools we permit a religious apartheid in our education system, where the next generation of citizens are segregated along doctrinal lines, in accordance with their parent’s beliefs.
The late Christopher Hitchens claimed that faith schools were a “cultural suicide”. He argued that increasing them would turn Britain into somewhere like Lebanon, where people live in sectarian communities, and religious tensions are always simmering away ready to boil over.
Living in a multicultural and multi-faith society is a good thing but we must actively promote integration. We should have secular public services which treat all people equally irrespective of belief.
And all children should receive a well-rounded evidence-based education, with a healthy and inclusive understanding of other faiths and cultures, so as to prepare them for life in modern Britain and the wider world.
Many Leicester people were appalled and disgusted on Saturday (7 June 2014), when photos emerged on social media showing that the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on Belgrave Road had been defaced.
Rupal Rajani from BBC Leicester originally tweeted the photos from her personal account, which had been sent to her by local businessman Vinod Popat.
The graffiti on the statue is an attempt to draw attention to the awful 1984 massacre of Sikhs in Amritsar, a major controversy involving the Indian Prime Minister at the time, Mrs Indira Gandhi.
However it would seem that the culprit who committed this vandalism isn’t very bright. Either they did not know that Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi were two very different people and completely unrelated. Or they did know the difference, and they did it anyway, in a bid to stir up tensions in the community. In any event, they have failed.
This act only serves to unify Leicester people from all backgrounds and communities, who recognise that it is not a legitimate political protest: it is simply a cowardly act of criminal damage.
Many of my Leicester Labour colleagues were quick to condemn this pathetic behaviour.
Cllr Vijay Singh Riyait of Abbey tweeted: “we need to be clear that this kind of thing is totally unacceptable”. And Assistant Mayor Cllr Manjula Sood of Latimer telephoned me and told me that “this is entirely wrong and goes against the teachings of Sikhism”. She also agreed to inform the police.
Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, tweeted: “Shocked that the Gandhi statue in Belgrave has been defaced. A foolish act of vandalism. Let’s stay united and strong to honour the great man”. His comments were later retweeted by journalists from the BBC and Leicester Mercury.
Having noticed the photos on Twitter fairly earlier on I had immediately emailed them over to City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby. The City Mayor and his Cabinet colleague Cllr Sarah Russell were very quick to respond, confirming within hours that Council officers would be out cleaning the graffiti on Sunday morning.
It is great to see that Leicester’s political leaders have taken this seriously. We are also very lucky to have such dedicated Council officers, promptly agreeing to carry out the cleaning work on a Sunday.
Some people have questioned why this is such a big issue. Others have even made light of it or tried to justify the sentiments being expressed.
For the avoidance of doubt let me be very clear. The graffiti applied to Mahatma Gandhi’s statue is not a legitimate political protest and it absolutely must not be justified under any circumstances.
The definition of terrorism is “the unauthorised use of violence or intimidation in the pursuit of political aims”. The desecration of this statue was unauthorised; it was an act of intimidation aimed at the mainly British Indian community living in Belgrave; and the purpose was wholly political.
It could be argued therefore that this act of vandalism also amounts to an act of terrorism. An act that was perpetrated by the same kind of closed-minded people who go on to commit far more dangerous acts, because they already have a blatant disregard for the rule of law. These people don’t want to convince us of their political beliefs; they want to force us into accepting them, and they’re prepared to break the law to do it.
We are lucky to live in a civilised western society built on the rule of law, human rights, freedom and democracy. Any transgression of these principles is an attack on all of us and our way of life. We must never justify any attempt to influence public discourse through the use violence, force or intimidation.
Thankfully I believe that this was an isolated incident and that these kinds of acts are very rare in Leicester. However we must always be prepared to stand together – people of all faiths and those of none – united against criminals and terrorists seeking to take the law into their own hands to advance their political beliefs.
Ultimately we have this statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Leicester for the same reason that we have Nelson Mandela Park and may soon have – thanks to Cllr Adam Clarke of Aylestone – a statue of Alice Hawkins: We choose to honour great people and inspire the next generation.
We will not be intimidated by stupid cowards who break the law.
Cllr Sundip Meghani
UPDATE: The statue of Mahatma Gandhi has now been cleaned. This was done within 24 hours by Leicester City Council officers. Photo credit: Emily Anderson, BBC News. Leicestershire Police are investigating and two arrests were made on 11 June 2014. Anyone with any information should contact Leicestershire Police on 0116 222 22 22.
I visited Gilroes cemetery in Beaumont Leys earlier today to pay my respects on the 70th anniversary of D Day.
Leicester’s Gilroes cemetery contains 110 Commonwealth war graves from World War I and 160 from World War II. There is also a memorial in front of the crematorium which commemorates the 31 service personnel whose remains were cremated there.
The weather today was sunny and bright and it was very peaceful. There was a funeral taking place inside. Outside, tiny squirrels were darting about, picking off petals from the many floral tributes. It was just another ordinary day at the cemetery.
Seventy years ago however it was anything but an ordinary day for our country and for many countless men and women. The Normandy landings ultimately helped the Allies rescue the continent of Europe from the grip of hatred and injustice.
Everything we have in Britain, including the freedom to choose how to live our lives, is thanks to the bravery of countless extraordinary people who came before us. We owe them a debt of gratitude we can never repay. However we can honour their memories and sacrifices by ensuring that future generations never forget.
“Congratulations to Narendra Modi, incoming Prime Minister of India, and the BJP / NDA on their emphatic election victory. Congratulations also to the many British Asians, and Non-Resident Indians living in Britain, who have been actively campaigning for this election result.
It has been fascinating to observe the politics of India in recent years and particularly the 2014 general election. It is a testament to the strength of Indian democracy that the campaign has been largely peaceful and that Congress and other political parties have humbly accepted the people’s verdict.
As the people of India choose a new path for their future, I sincerely wish that the country continues to prosper, and that India remains a global beacon for hard work and innovation. I also hope that relations between the Republic of India and the United Kingdom continue to go from strength to strength.”
In late February I came across some compelling research about the dangers of eating sugar (or fructose to be more precise). I wrote a blog about it and I began a month-long experiment to see how I would feel without eating sugar or any foods which have added sugar.
I avoided all sugary foods including: sweets, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, desserts, ice cream, honey, syrup, all alcohol, ketchup, baked beans, sugary drinks, fruit juices, milkshakes, and many others.
It was impossible to avoid eating any sugar whatsoever as many foods contain small amounts of it, including foods that one wouldn’t normally expect to have any added sugar at all, i.e. crisps, mayonnaise, Weetabix, vegetable soup etc.
Nevertheless I went from being completely oblivious about my daily sugar intake, to having around 5g a day, about the same as 1 teaspoon. It has been an interesting experience and here’s a summary of my findings:
The low points
I must confess that I did have a couple of relapses in the form of a slice of cheesecake, a bar of chocolate and a pot of yoghurt. However on the whole I was quite disciplined and I stuck to the parameters of my experiment.
Around the fourth and fifth day I had some strong sugar cravings and I was very grumpy with the people around me (apologies to them).
I also didn’t eat any of my own birthday cake, which is just plain sad.
The high points
Discovering sugar-free chocolates and biscuits being sold at my local Boots (aimed at people who have diabetes) was a high point, although paying £2.99 per packet was a rip-off. I expect there are decent cheaper products available to purchase online.
I bought some glucose sugar (the good kind of sugar) and I occasionally used this to create any foods that I craved, i.e. pancakes on Pancake Day.
Losing several pounds without dieting or intending to lose weight was a bonus.
I strongly believe that Professor Robert Lustig and others, who have recently been warning about the dangers of eating sugar, are onto something very important.
By not eating sugar throughout the whole of the last month I have been feeling a lot healthier, happier, and more energetic day-to-day. (My increased energy levels even inspired me to purchase a new hybrid mountain bike.) I also unintentionally lost weight and found myself eating more fruits and vegetables.
It has helped me to become a lot more health conscious and to think seriously about the food and drink that I consume on a daily basis. I haven’t really missed not having biscuits with tea or a dessert after a main meal. As with many ‘bad habits’ it would seem that our reliance on sugary foods is a learnt behaviour that can slowly be unlearnt.
During my experiment I became acutely aware of the excessive amounts of sugar being added to foods and drinks, particularly in products aimed at children. For example I witnessed a friend’s son have a bottle of fizzy drink which contained more than 35g of sugar. That’s the equivalent of drinking a cup of tea with 9 teaspoons of added sugar, which no-one in their right mind would ever do.
Roughly halfway through my sugar-free month the World Health Organisation issued new guidance, urging people to cut their consumption of sugar to less than 10% of daily total calorie intake (around 50g), or ideally to less than 5%. However many of the world’s leading scientists and academics think these recommended levels are still too high. I certainly do not think 50g of sugar a day is at all healthy.
Avoiding sugar and fructose completely is impossible, because varying quantities are added to so many different foods and drinks, and we can never know exactly how much sugar if any has been added to something that we haven’t prepared.
However I have certainly adopted a positive and (hopefully) permanent change of lifestyle, in choosing to avoid most sugary foods and drinks from now on, and opting for fresh fruit where possible to sweeten my dietary intake.
Although I am lucky to be in very good health at the moment, with no underlying health conditions or concerns, I felt it was sensible to do some research and try to be a bit proactive about my future health. I now look forward to campaigning on the dangers of sugar addiction and the importance of eating a balanced diet as part of a healthy lifestyle.
I recently watched two fascinating lectures on YouTube by the world-renowned academic Professor Robert Lustig. The first video dates back to 2009 and has more than 4.3 million views. The second lecture is from 2013 and links directly to the one he gave four years earlier. Both YouTube videos are included below.
Firstly by way of background: there are many different types of sugars. Examples include: fructose; lactose; glucose; and sucrose (which is actually 50% fructose and 50% glucose). Conventional table sugar is sucrose, i.e. 50% fructose and 50% glucose, and it is the fructose half of sucrose that is the major cause for concern.
Sugar (sucrose) – and fructose in particular – is an addictive poison that is incredibly harmful to human health. This is because: a) it cannot be properly processed by the body; b) it is addictive and fools our brain into thinking we’re not full, leading to overeating; and c) it is more quickly converted and stored as fat by the liver.
Dangerous sugars such as sucrose and fructose should not to be confused with other sugars like glucose and lactose, which are useful nutrients in a healthy diet. In other words, food items such as chocolate (sucrose) or fruit juice (fructose) are bad; whereas foods like bread (glucose) and milk (lactose) are fine in moderation.
In summary, sugar makes you fat and it makes you sick, and sugar poses the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century. Unfortunately modern society is naïvely unaware of the dangers of sugar, in much the same way that society in the 20th century was unaware of the dangers of smoking.
Learning the truth about sugar has been a real eye-opener for me and that’s why I want to help spread the word. I would urge everyone to watch these lectures to really understand the science behind sugar. This article published in January 2014 is also helpful in understanding the sheer gravity of the situation.
It would seem logical for the purpose of improving one’s health, and avoiding diseases like diabetes, to quickly and permanently remove sugar from our diets. And that is precisely what I myself am now trying to do.
Update – Here’s another very useful video but this time only 15 minutes long, which summarises a lot of what Professor Lustig is talking about in the above lectures:
Update – Follow up article here on my month-long experiment without sugar and subsequent decision to give it up almost entirely.
We’re very lucky to have so many decent people here in Beaumont Leys working hard for the community day-in day-out. This year I’ve been working with numerous charities and local groups: helping to raise awareness; assisting with projects and initiatives; and supporting the work of local activists and volunteers. I’m particularly pleased to have been involved in several recent fundraising efforts, raising money for charities based in Beaumont Leys.
My friends and I at the Midlands Asian Lawyers Association were proud to support Beaumont Leys based charity Restorative Justice Initiative, by raising money for them at our annual ball on Friday 18 October 2013.
The Leicester Mercury covered the event, which was attended by more than 500 people including the Lord Mayor of Leicester, and Labour peer Lord Willy Bach of Lutterworth. We raised £5,000 for Restorative Justice Initiative; money that will help the charity to build bridges between victims and offenders, and repair the damage done in communities by anti-social behaviour.
The following month on Friday 22 November 2013, my friends and I at the Leicestershire Junior Lawyers Division held our annual ball, where we raised more than £450 for the Children’s Heart Unit at Glenfield Hospital in Beaumont Leys. Following recent attempts by the current government to close the unit, I was particularly glad that we were able to support this very worthy charitable cause. I’m optimistic about the coming year and looking forward to continuing to support local groups where I can.
As President of the Leicestershire Junior Lawyers Division, I was delighted to welcome delegates from across England and Wales to Leicester this weekend, as the city played host to a meeting of the National Junior Lawyers Division.
Around 40 representatives from junior lawyer groups across the country met at Leicester Town Hall on Saturday 5 October for a special 1-day conference; the first of its kind in the city.
Attendees discussed the future of the legal profession and a variety of issues affecting junior lawyers in England and Wales.
Delegates were also be treated to a special presentation by Nick Cooper from the University of Leicester, who had been invited to speak on the historic find of the remains of King Richard III, which were unearthed in a Leicester car park earlier this year.
The meeting was hosted by the Leicestershire Junior Lawyers Division, which looks after the interests of junior lawyers living and working in Leicestershire.
I successfully lobbied for Leicester to host this meeting and I was very glad to have received the support of City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby. Conferences such as this not only help local businesses, such as hotels, restaurants and bars; but they can also help to attract even more business to Leicester and ultimately, more jobs for local people.
Click here to listen to an interview I gave on the BBC Asian Network in March 2014.
Leicester people – of all faiths and none – will soon have an additional choice when it comes to honouring the lives of loved ones who have passed away.
Leicester City Council has committed to developing a new riverside memorial space within the city, where people will be able to safely, peacefully and legally disperse the cremated ashes of loved ones into the river.
This is not only welcome news for the city’s large Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities, for whom the consecration of cremated ashes is an important ritual, but it’s also welcome news for all Leicester residents; research shows that 1 in 10 people would like to be able to scatter the ashes of a loved one in this way.
It will also give each of us – the Council tax payers of Leicester – an added option when it comes to having our own mortal remains treated in a dignified way. For someone who always loved to go fishing for example, or enjoyed summertime swimming, or even felt a deep connection with the natural environment, this final journey may well be something comforting to include in any last will and testament.
Until now the nearest place where people could safely and legally scatter ashes onto water was at Barrow-upon-Soar. However this option is rather poor as it only accommodates very limited numbers; involves a 20-mile round trip; and costs upwards of a hundred pounds.
It is therefore very much to the credit of our City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and his hardworking team, that we will soon have a simpler, cheaper and much more local space for the benefit of Leicester residents. I and several others have campaigned on this issue in recent months and I am glad that we are now taking this positive and pragmatic approach.
In regards to the specifics, the cabinet member for culture has advised me that the memorial space will be up-and-running by February 2014. Three potential sites have been selected and site visits and formal consultations will soon be commenced in order to pick the best location. Eventually we hope to have a site that is away from residential areas and one that runs in accordance with all relevant rules and regulations.
Overall most people would agree that talking about death has always been a bit of a taboo. But I think we ought to start taking a more responsible and practical approach to death and the grieving process. Ultimately we ought to do what we can to help make things less stressful and more manageable when our fellow citizens – including our friends and relatives – make that final transition into eternity.
“On Thursday 24 January 2013, at a meeting of the Leicester City Council, I will join my fellow Beaumont Leys Councillors in strongly opposing the City Mayor’s decision to build a 6-pitch travellers site on Greengate Lane in Beaumont Leys.
Unauthorised gypsy and traveller encampments have been causing a nuisance in Beaumont Leys for many decades. However this is a problem that has affected the whole city and there must therefore be a city-wide solution.
The planned site poses a real threat to the city’s Green Wedge, local environment, residential amenity and transport infrastructure, and travellers themselves have also voiced serious concerns.
Building a travellers site in Beaumont Leys and another larger site in nearby Abbey ward is completely unacceptable to a large number of my constituents. Consequently I will be voting AGAINST the City Mayor’s decision at Council and urging all Councillors to do the same.
I hope that the City Mayor will think again on this extremely important issue.”
On Wednesday 16 January 2013 I visited Brunel University in London to give a brief careers talk to their politics students. It was great to be back at my old university 10 years after I left! I was invited back by one of my excellent former lecturers, Dr Niall Palmer, who inspired me to become interested in American politics all those years ago.
My presentation covered tips at university, skills and strategy, career options and job sites, CV layout and content, interviews, and ended with a quiz. My PowerPoint presentation is available here for download and / or distribution:
In a way it’s a very bittersweet time of year. Many of us hope to spread happiness and joy to those we care about. At the same time we cannot ignore all the unhappiness in the world and the suffering that many people – and animals too – are being forced to endure.
Thankfully there are millions of decent conscientious people in our world of all backgrounds for whom the message of Christmas isn’t just confined to a few weeks in December. These are the same people who already spend so much time and energy trying to change our world for the better. And they are the same people who will continue to lead by example when all the festivities are over come January the 2nd.
There will come a time in the future when all suffering will be eliminated. This isn’t just a hope that I have but an absolute belief. Just as our species and the human body has gradually evolved and improved over millions of years, so human civilisation will also continue to become progressively enlightened.
A new world order is in our grasp and education is the key. Before the end of this century, science, truth, justice, peace and democracy will have become the fundamental pillars of life for all people, and medical science will have enhanced humanity beyond our wildest expectations. As we strive towards this new enlightenment however, I believe that we can and actively should encourage each other to be happier, and to embrace happiness as a way of life.
In a strange way happiness has become somewhat of a taboo subject. Those who are happy and those who seek to encourage greater happiness are often viewed with suspicion. I suspect this may be because for centuries the promise of happiness has been used by individuals and groups of people the world over to exploit fellow human beings. Even today we can do a simple online search to find countless people willing to help you find happiness – for a price.
Suspicions aside (hopefully) how many of us actually spend time really thinking about happiness or about ‘being happy’? Is it something that we allow our minds, bodies and souls to experience? Or do we more often than not delegate the idea of being happy to our future selves?
Sadly it is so much easier for us to focus on what we need and what we lack; on what we hate and on what causes us physical or emotional pain. Many people simply avoid thinking about happiness altogether, believing that it will inevitably come into their lives just as soon as they have enough money, and thus the freedom to purchase goods and services.
Whilst happiness is of course very subjective and personal to each and every one of us, philosophers and faith traditions throughout history have always cautioned against seeking happiness through money alone. Moreover studies have shown time and again that there’s more to happiness than just wealth and material possession.
A Gallup poll released just this week for example surveyed 150,000 people around the world and found that 7 of the 10 happiest nations on Earth are in Latin America. These countries, which included the likes of Guatemala, Ecuador, Venezuela and Costa Rica, also happen to be amongst the poorest nations in the world.
Happiness is by no means a fixed concept. Even today, scientists and scholars are trying to define, re-define and better understand exactly what happiness is and how we can experience it. Quite understandably then, there are numerous theories and approaches which seek to explain happiness, or at least identify the key ingredients from which it may be produced.
Psychologist Martin Seligman explained that happiness was an amalgamation of 5 things: pleasure; engaging activities; relationships with others; meaning and belonging; and accomplishments. Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s theory of human motivation, which has become a fundamental principle in the world of business, consists of a hierarchy of 5 essential needs: physiological needs; safety; love / belonging; esteem; and self-actualisation.
Aristotle believed that unlike riches, honour, health or friendship; happiness was the only thing that humans desired for its own sake. He considered happiness to be an activity rather than an emotion or a physical state, and that ‘activity’ was the ‘practice of virtue’. The Buddhist approach is beautifully simple and an idea that I firmly agree with: compassion and generosity is more fun, and more fun leads to increased happiness! Put another way, the secret to happiness is making other living beings happy through compassion and generosity.
I believe that happiness begins in the mind through meditation. Also known as positive thinking or having a positive mental attitude, it is by far the easiest and most beneficial act that any one of us can take – to actually think ourselves happy. To create within our own personal consciousness a state of mental and emotional well-being, which in turn flows outwards like ripples in a pond, and encompasses our physical bodies and the world around us. Interestingly it would seem that science and evolution also concurs with this approach.
The human brain weighs around three pounds and has tripled in size as our ancestors evolved over the last 2 million years. Thanks to our frontal lobes, we as a species are now completely unique in the world, in that we have the ability to simulate the future and visualise actions or products before they exist in real life.
This also gives us the psychological ability to ‘synthesise happiness’ and to change our view of the world, so as to make ourselves feel better about our circumstances. In other words, we have what it takes within our own minds to create happiness and to feel happier, irrespective of the world around us. Having a positive mental attitude therefore – and thinking positive – actually works!
This extraordinary finding has been backed up with reliable data and scientific study by the eminent Harvard psychologist Professor Dan Gilbert. Gilbert also suggests that paradoxically we believe that synthetic happiness is not the same as natural happiness. That is to say, people assume that self-taught, self-proclaimed happiness is not as enriching or as rewarding as the happiness that comes from actually getting something that we want.
However his research has also found that this assumption is mistaken. When measured in controlled experiments, Gilbert found that “synthetic happiness is every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness you stumble upon when you get exactly what you were aiming for”. Whilst some may mock the idea of synthetic happiness, in the real world and in the human mind, there is no differential between synthetic happiness and naturally occurring happiness.
So there we have it: the secret to happiness is to ‘fake it until you make it’. You can either be unhappy or less happy until you find happiness by getting what you want, or you can create happiness seemingly out of nothingness inside your own mind; a happiness that will be beneficial and fulfilling to your emotional, mental and physical well-being, and allow you to spread even greater happiness to other living beings through compassion and generosity.
Ultimately, I believe we need a lot more happiness in the world, and I think we shouldn’t be afraid to do something about it.
I wish all my friends, relatives, colleagues and constituents a very happy Christmas, a very happy New Year, and a very happy and fulfilling future.
Letter published in the Leicester Mercury newspaper on 28 November 2012
I was dismayed to read this letter from T Green in the Mercury on 22 November; one of several recent letters and online comments from people jumping on the Clarissa Dickson Wright bandwagon. Thankfully I’ve also seen more sensible letters from Ann Collins and Eddie Sentance amongst others, reflecting the true face of Leicester people, and the common decency and human compassion that most of us share.
Firstly in response to T Green: I hate to break it to you, but you appear to be suffering from a bout of xenophobia. Take 2 visits with friends to an Indian restaurant and perhaps a place of worship, followed by a long hard look in the mirror. If symptoms persist contact your nearest library and try reading a few good books. Before long you will discover that humans of different ethnicity are biologically identical, and that different cultures – like different languages – are not something to be afraid of, but something to be embraced; i.e. you have to make a bit of an effort in order to understand something that’s a tad different to what you’re used to. Good luck with your recovery!
As for poor Clarissa Dickson Wright, one of the things she said in her widely reported remarks was that she once got lost in a part of Leicester and none of the Muslim men would talk to her. Well to be honest I’m not Muslim myself, but if fox-hunting enthusiast Clarissa Dickson Wright came barrelling towards me on a Leicester side street, I’d probably ignore her too. On a serious note I did find her comments about Leicester to be both idiotic and exaggerated. But it was one particular phrase that really caught my attention, where she casually questioned whether or not multiculturalism actually works.
Now of course I don’t have enough column inches here to run through all the reasoned arguments as to why multiculturalism does work, has worked and will continue to work in the future. (Or for that matter to try and give Clarissa Dickson Wright and all her fans a much needed education). But for the sake of brevity I will simply say this: Saint George was an Arab, the Royal family is German, our national dish is Indian and our most gifted Olympians are of African descent. Questioning multiculturalism is akin to questioning evolution: both are part and parcel of the human story. The sooner we accept that and move on to creating for ourselves a life of purpose and fulfilment in this increasingly globalised society, the better off we’ll be.
“It’s been a real pleasure to serve on the Leicestershire Police Authority these last 18 months, together with my Labour colleagues Cllr Lynn Senior, Cllr Barbara Potter and Cllr Max Hunt. We worked hard with fellow Police Authority members to deliver an effective and efficient police service. Labour members in particular helped lead the way earlier this year in saving hundreds of police jobs.
In this era of Police and Crime Commissioners I’m confident that my Labour colleagues on the police and crime panel will do an excellent job in holding the new Commissioner to account. I’d like to thank Paul Stock, Angela Perry and all officers at the outgoing Police Authority for their hard work and for helping us to do our jobs. And I’d like to wish Chief Constable Simon Cole, Deputy Chief Constable Simon Edens, Assistant Chief Constable Steph Morgan and all the excellent officers and staff at Leicestershire Constabulary all the very best for the future.”
When it comes to US politics I must confess to being an Americaholic; on any given day I’d much rather have a State of the Union over a Sambuca, or a presidential primary instead of a Pinot Grigio. Perhaps understandably then Tuesday’s election result has left me feeling positively intoxicated.
What an incredible night it was for progressive politics! Not only was President Barack Obama re-elected for another 4-year term with a majority in the Electoral College, a majority of the popular vote and a majority of US States under his belt; but it was also a stunning victory for the centre-left and for equality, for fairness and for secular values.
Although as expected the Democrats did not take control of the House, they did make some gains, and they did retain control of the Senate. In addition there were also a number of spectacular progressive fireworks that went off with a bang on election night: gay marriage legalised in Washington, Maine and Maryland; marijuana use legalised in Colorado and Washington; and the first ever openly gay person elected as a Senator.
At the same time, an attempt to define marriage as being between a man and a woman was rejected in Minnesota, and two rather vile Republican Senate candidates failed to win their respective elections: Todd Akin, who said that the female body had a way of shutting down pregnancies in cases of ‘legitimate rape’, quite rightly lost in Missouri; and Richard Mourdock, who said that a pregnancy which resulted from rape would be ‘something that God intended to happen’, failed to win the Senate seat in Indiana.
I’ve been following the 2012 presidential election for around 18 months: the Republican primaries; both party conventions; and high profile events such as the Al Smith dinner. I correctly predicted on my website way back in January that Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee and that Barack Obama would be re-elected by a comfortable margin. Thankfully the President did better than I anticipated in the Electoral College.
For me the excitement of election day began at midnight on the US east coast (5am GMT on Tuesday 6 November) when I tuned in to CNN to watch the tiny hamlet of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire go to the polls. All 10 registered voters cast their ballots just after 12am and these were then totalled up. For the first time in the history of this wonderful American election quirk the result was a tie; 5 votes for Barack Obama and 5 votes for Mitt Romney!
On election night itself I was suitably stocked up with American food, and I watched the drama unfold live on CNN from 10pm until around 7am GMT, when President Obama finished delivering his victory speech. At 7.30am I did a live radio interview with Jonathan Lampon on BBC Leicester. I thought Jonathan did an excellent job on his breakfast show that morning discussing the US election; David Dimbleby and friends over on BBC 1 could certainly learn a thing or two from him.
Best of all I thoroughly enjoyed being able to share the thrill of election night with friends on Twitter and Facebook. Of course all political parties are now acutely aware of the significant role that social media has in modern political campaigning. In-fact President Obama’s re-election campaign went far beyond plain old social media and was by far the most sophisticated and technologically advanced political campaign in the history of the world.
For one thing the campaign employed micro-targeting ‘data-mining’ techniques to better understand who individual voters were and how they’d respond to various campaign messages. By extrapolating publicly available information and purchasing commercially-obtained data on everything from magazine subscriptions, spending habits, preferred holiday destinations etc., the campaign was able to hone and effectively deliver personalised messages to people in swing states, inspiring them to get out and vote.
Another strategy was to incorporate Facebook and other social media into their mobile phone app, which was made freely available to millions of people. By doing this the Obama-Biden campaign was able to send personal vote recommendations to people in swing states from their friends right across the nation, i.e. a voter living in the swing state of Ohio was reminded on polling day that her friends in the safe Democratic state of New York were voting for Obama, and they were encouraging her to do the same. This wasn’t just an improved presidential election campaign: this was a generational shift; an evolution in political campaigning and something from which the British Labour Party could learn a great deal.
‘But was it worth it?’ a cynic may ask. With nearly six billion dollars (that’s $6,000,000,000) spent over 18 months by Democrats, Republicans and their supportive Super PACs – the White House and Senate stayed Democratic blue – and the House of Representatives remained Republican red. Was it worth it? Well yes and no.
Of course the American political system is broken; not just in the absurd amounts of money required to stand for public office, but quite literally broken – people were having to queue for several hours to vote in states like Florida, Virginia and New York. One cannot help but ask how a country that purports to be the modern cradle of western democracy can be so bad at holding elections?
However speaking as a Democrat and following a convincing win by President Obama I would of course say that it was worth it. The US economy is now recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression; 30 consecutive months of growth is an achievement in itself. The Obama administration has also overseen the creation of more than 5 million new jobs, ended the war in Iraq, saved the American car industry, and championed social equality; the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell being two examples.
Most importantly of all however and the highlight of this entire election: Obamacare is here to stay for all Americans. Make no mistake; achieving universal health care will be the crowning glory of President Obama’s legacy in years to come – it is for Obama what the New Deal was for FDR. For this alone the Democrats deserve to be re-elected to the White House in 2016; although that will only happen if the economy continues to improve in the intervening years.
President Obama’s re-election is also good news for the rest of the world. The administration will continue to help end or prevent conflicts (both philosophically and practically) in Afghanistan, Iran, Israel / Palestine and in a post-Arab Spring world generally. Furthermore an improving US economy is particularly good for us here in Britain.
Just as the US banking system crumpled under the rot of complex derivatives built on sub-prime lending – pulling down European economies along the way – so a strong improving US economy will have a tangible positive impact on our economy. For one thing the United States is our largest export partner; if they’re not buying, we’re not selling!
Without meaning to state the bleeding obvious, the result of the election was not just a win for President Obama; it was also a loss for Mitt Romney. So why did Romney lose? Well there are a number of peripheral reasons and then there’s the big kahuna, which I shall come to in a moment.
Firstly Romney had – as the Obama campaign so expertly managed to portray – a track record for putting profits before people and stripping companies of workers in order to benefit shareholders. It is simply extraordinary that the Romney campaign was forced to play defence so often during the campaign for what was in fairness a rather successful business career at Bain Capital.
Secondly he flip-flopped on abortion and other social issues such as gay rights, running away from his moderate past as a Governor in liberal Massachusetts, and becoming a ‘severe conservative’ (his words) in order to win the Republican primary. Thirdly, he had introduced a universal healthcare mandate in Massachusetts – which was meant to be the crowning glory of his own legacy – and then ran against President Obama for introducing a similar thing nationwide! That in itself was completely absurd.
Fourthly, and perhaps the single most damaging thing that Romney said over the course of the election campaign; he was caught on a secret video recording at an expensive fundraiser writing off 47% of the electorate. If only one of his aides had told him what he needed to know: when trying to win an election it is best to avoid labelling half of the voting public as victims and admitting that you don’t care about them.
Romney also faced a great deal of hostility for being religious; something almost unheard of in previous US presidential elections. The Christian evangelical right viewed him with suspicion for being a Mormon. (I recall an episode of Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN where Franklin Graham – a well-known American Christian evangelist and missionary – refused to say that Mormonism is a form of Christianity and thus, refused to confirm that Mitt Romney was indeed a Christian.)
At the other end of the spectrum Romney was routinely and repeatedly criticised for being overtly religious and for supposedly allowing his Mormonism to adversely affect his worldview. (I lost count of the number of times that Richard Dawkins kept referring to him as ‘Bishop Romney’ on Twitter).
Now for the big kahuna: Romney lost for the simple reason that he was running as a Republican. The so-called Grand Old Party still has a toxic brand and when it comes to the presidency the Republicans remain completely unelectable.
This is primarily – but not exclusively – for the following three reasons: a) tangible and reputational damage done by the George W Bush administration particularly on the economy; b) for being hijacked and transformed from a political ideology into a religious theology by Tea Party nutters and Christian evangelicals; and c) focusing too narrowly on shrinking demographics and essentially becoming the party of older white Christian male heterosexuals.
In 2008 18-to-29 year olds made up 18% of those who turned out to vote. This year that figure increased to 19%, and of those who voted, more than 60% voted for President Obama. When it comes to minorities, President Obama won them over convincingly; 93% of African Americans (13% of the total turnout), 71% of Latinos (10% of the total turnout), and 73% of Asians (3% of the total turnout). Roughly 39% of whites backed Obama compared to 59% for Romney (72% of the total turnout). In addition 76% of the LGBT electorate voted for Obama (5% of the total turnout).
Women were the overall key to President Obama’s victory however. Not only did women make up 53% of the total turnout, but 55% of them voted for President Obama. It’s well known fact that without women voters, the Democratic Party in America and the Labour Party here in Britain would never win elections; so let’s please take a minute to thank God for all the women of the world!
Were there any other factors at play in this election? Yes absolutely there were. In the blue corner we had the comeback kid himself, former President Bill Clinton; the talented David Axelrod, Jim Messina, Joel Benenson, David Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett and all of President Obama’s top team; the genius pollster Nate Silver and his Five Thirty Eight blog; the left leaning magazine Mother Jones which broke Romney’s 47% gaffe; the wonderful Michelle Obama who gave an extraordinary Convention speech; New Jersey Governor Chris Christi who by praising Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy reminded the nation of why they fell in love with the President in the first place; Osama Bin Laden, whose capture and termination undoubtedly helped President Obama win more votes; and then of course, there was Big Bird.
In the red corner we had the increasingly unfashionable ‘Tea Party’ backing the likes of Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock and other right wing extremists; Clint Eastwood, who upstaged Romney before his Convention acceptance speech by ‘arguing’ with an empty chair; angry megalomaniac Donald Trump, who had a bizarre meltdown on Twitter on election night; Karl Rove, arguably the modern face of the GOP, who also had quite a tantrum on election night on Fox News; multi-millionaire casino owner Sheldon Anderson who spent $100 million dollars on Romney’s campaign and stood to save $2 billion in tax cuts; Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, who publicly accused the White House of manipulating unemployment figures; and then of course there was that first debate which in all fairness did help Romney a great deal.
Ultimately the Democrats succeeded in turning an election that should have been predominantly about the economy into an election that was also about social issues. According to fascinating exit polls from CNN, 59% of all people who turned out to vote on election day believed that abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances; quite a statistical nightmare for dyed-in-the-wool Republicans.
To be perfectly honest I have no sympathy for the Republicans. After all, this is the party that wants the Government off your back, but firmly inside your womb and / or bedroom – it is both ridiculous and indefensible. If the Republicans are serious about winning the White House in 2016 they need to modernise big time, particularly on immigration; an issue which continues to diminish their support amongst Hispanics at every election. Moreover they need to revert back to being a party of political ideas and problem solving, instead of a Christian crusade in all but name and a relic of the Deep South.
A lot of people – myself included – went into hyperbole overdrive following the outcome of this election; but the truth is, it really was historic. Not only have the American people now elected an African-American, northern, liberal, intellectual as their President – twice. But this election was also the first time in US political history where a President stood up and explicitly championed women’s rights, gay rights, fairer taxes and social justice during a presidential campaign.
This in itself was extraordinary, and as former Governor Howard Dean put it on BBC Newsnight recently, the American people “rejected racism, rejected homophobia and rejected misogyny”. They did this by vehemently rejecting the Republican Party and everything that it currently stands for. And I for one am very glad that they did.
Click hereto watch my speech on the Leicester City Council webcast video archive.
Speech delivered at a Leicester City Council meeting on 13 September 2012
As the son and grandson of Ugandan Asian immigrants who came to this city with virtually nothing, it gives me great pride to bring this motion before Council tonight.
In August 1972 the entire Asian population of Uganda was expelled by the dictator Idi Amin. They were given 90 days to leave the country or face being put into concentration camps. Some 80,000 men, women and children were stripped of all their possessions and forced to leave the only home they had ever known.
Around a third of the Ugandan Asian population held British passports. The Tory Government at the time initially tried to avoid letting them come here, but after weeks of wrangling the Government relented, and a huge resettlement effort began. In the end more than 25,000 Ugandan Asians came to the UK and around 10,000 moved to Leicester.
Here in Britain 1972 was a difficult year. With an oil crisis, a three-day week and crippling strikes; the economy was stagnating and times were tough for almost everyone. In addition there were widespread anti-immigration protests throughout Britain, spurred on by the likes of Enoch Powell and the National Front.
The people of Leicester and the Council at the time were reluctant to see a huge influx of new arrivals. But 40 years on Leicester is a very different place; a much better place. By living together, working together and going to school together, communities in Leicester have become more integrated and multiculturalism is part of everyday life.
When the Ugandan Asians came to Leicester they settled mainly in Highfields and Belgrave where housing was cheap. Despite an ailing economy there were plenty of manual jobs and Ugandan Asians ended up working in factories and businesses such as Imperial Typewriters, Thorn Lighting, Leicester Garments, Wilkinson’s and the British United Shoe Machinery Company to name a few.
It was in the factories and on the shop floors that barriers began to break down between the native British population and the newcomers from Uganda. If discrimination did occur, Ugandan Asians found solidarity with those in the trade union movement; a strong and vital link that remains just as important today as it was back then.
And on the subject of discrimination let me say categorically that we in the Labour Party have always and will always stand for core values of equality and fairness. And that is why we condemn today those, particularly on the far right, who seek to discourage people who are fleeing persecution, from coming here. Yesterday’s National Front are today’s BNP and EDL, and we must never be complacent about the threat they pose or the damage they do, even from a brief visit to our city.
In theory the Ugandan Asians who came here fleeing persecution were refugees, but in practise they lived and behaved like economic migrants; not seeking hand outs but working hard, not taking from society but contributing to it. And – as the Prime Minister said in the Commons yesterday – the contribution that Ugandan Asians have made to the United Kingdom has been ‘extraordinary’.
Those who came to Leicester were strong-willed, hardworking and entrepreneurial. They brought with them an excellent work ethic, core family values, a respect for others and an appreciation of the need to obtain a good education – values that all of us can identify with.
Some of those who were expelled ran successful businesses in Uganda. Here in Britain many had to start again from scratch – which they did – building multi-million pound businesses, and working to help their children become the doctors, lawyers and accountants of tomorrow.
40 years ago the people of Leicester accepted – albeit reluctantly – an unprecedented amount of change. Today our city is not only at peace with its diversity but proud of it. Asian culture imported from East Africa has influenced everything from our food to our fashion, from our festivals to our friendships.
My Lord Mayor, it is right and proper that we acknowledge the contribution that all communities have made and that we thank all the people of Leicester for making our city what it is.
But tonight we pause to reflect on the 40th anniversary of the arrival of Ugandan Asians fleeing persecution and formally recognise the contribution that they have made to the fabric of our city.
I hope that the inter-cultural harmony and social cohesion that we enjoy here in Leicester continues to go from strength-to-strength, and I pay tribute to the values and achievements of the Ugandan Asian community in Britain, and the awesome impact they have had on this great city of ours.
This has been a truly historic year for our city. Not only did we celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in style by welcoming Her Majesty to Leicester; we also played host to both the Olympic and Paralympic flames.
But 2012 also has another historical significance for us here in Leicester as we mark the fortieth anniversary of the arrival of Ugandan Asian immigrants to the city.
In 1972 all Asian people in Uganda were expelled by the dictator Idi Amin. They were given 90 days to leave or face being put into concentration camps. Most were lucky to escape with their lives but they had virtually everything taken away from them.
Around 25,000 Ugandan Asians held British passports. However; despite this, the Conservative Government at the time tried desperately to avoid letting them come here.
Britain was a very different place in 1972: the economy was stagnating with strikes and a three-day week; and there were anti-immigration protests across the country spurred on by the likes of Enoch Powell and the National Front.
In the end, the Government relented and a huge resettlement effort began. More than 10,000 Ugandan Asians eventually settled in Leicester, and my father and his family were among them.
The impact of the Ugandan Asian migration has been immense. In the beginning, when Leicester’s manufacturing base was in decline, the arrival of thousands of hardworking entrepreneurial people breathed new life into the city’s economy.
Over these last 40 years we’ve seen our very own Little India develop around the Golden Mile. Asian culture imported from East Africa has influenced everything from food to fashion, from festivals to friendships.
For me, Leicester isn’t just the city that I happen to have been born in, Leicester is a community of kind-hearted and decent people; a community that 40 years ago accepted – albeit reluctantly – an unprecedented amount of change; and a community that is now not only at peace with its diversity, but proud of it.
As the son and grandson of immigrants, who was born and raised on a Leicester Council estate, it fills me with great pride that I’m now able to serve Leicester residents of all backgrounds as an elected representative on the City Council.
This Thursday evening I will proudly put forward a motion in the Council chamber – with the support of my Labour colleagues – to publicly recognise the significant contribution that Ugandan Asians have made to the social, economic and cultural life of our city.
Here’s to whatever the future may bring for our One Leicester community.
Cllr Sundip Meghani
This is the full text of the motion that I will bring to Council on 13 September 2012:
“This Council marks the 40th anniversary of the arrival of Ugandan Asians seeking refuge in the city of Leicester. We recognise the hard work and determination of the Ugandan Asian community and the significant contribution that they have made to the social, economic and cultural life of our city. We condemn efforts to discourage those fleeing persecution from coming here, and we are as proud today as we have always been to celebrate the diversity and unity, that makes Leicester such a wonderful place to live and work.”
Click here to read more about why I’m bringing this motion to Council. Also click the video below to watch a recent interview that I gave to Citizens Eye on this issue.
Exactly a year ago today residents in Beaumont Leys voted to elect me as one of their local Labour Councillors to serve on Leicester City Council.
It was a tremendous honour and a huge privilege to have been entrusted to represent the views of local people, especially as I’ve lived in the area since I was 7 years old. Also as the son of immigrants, who came to this country from East Africa fleeing persecution, and as someone who was born and raised on a council estate in Leicester, it was particularly poignant to have been chosen to serve on the very Council that had once supported me and my family when times were tough.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love my party and my politics, but to be honest my love of politics merely stems from my love of people. That may sound like an awful cliché but it is the truth. In-fact I believe that if you’re not a people person and you don’t genuinely thrive on being able to solve problems and help make peoples’ lives that much easier, then you shouldn’t seek to hold public office.
Whereas if you have a passion for putting people first, for lifting hopes and aspirations, for fighting social injustice, and for leading by example and working hard, then politics isn’t just a career choice, it’s a moral imperative; an obligation to use your skills and expertise to serve the public and to try and make a difference in the world.
It’s been an incredible year and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’m grateful to my good friend Vijay Riyait and all the wonderful people mentioned in this post who worked tirelessly on the election campaign.
In addition to working closely with my fellow Councillors in holding regular ward surgeries, attending residents association meetings and carrying out specific casework and solving problems on behalf of constituents, here’s a summary of my other activities and achievements during my first 12 months as a Leicester City Councillor:
Appointed as a Member of the Leicestershire Police Authority and attended numerous Authority and sub-committee meetings.
The Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse Hindu scripture which forms part of the ancient Sanskrit epic ‘Mahabharata’. The Gita dates back thousands of years, and is a conversation that takes place on a battlefield between Lord Krishna and the hero prince Arjuna, in the midst of a struggle between the forces of good and evil. Responding to Arjuna’s confusion and moral dilemma about fighting his own cousins, who have imposed tyranny on a disputed empire, Lord Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and as a prince. In doing so, Lord Krishna talks about yoga, samkhya, reincarnation, moksha, karma yoga, jnana yoga and other topics, all of which now form the core beliefs of Hinduism. Click below to hear the 18 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita.
A very good friend of mine recently gave me a lovely book entitled ‘The Wisdom of the Hindu Gurus’. As I flicked through the first few pages a quote by Sri Aurobindo caught my eye: “That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion because it embraces all others.” I really like this quote because it perfectly sums up the way I feel about God and religion, and the way in which I feel my spirituality has been enhanced in recent months.
On my 30th birthday last week I chose to spend the first half of the day by myself visiting 8 different places of worship around Leicester. My journey began at around 11am and over the course of 8 hours I visited the Progressive Jewish Synagogue, the Holy Cross Priory Catholic Church, the Jain Centre, the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, the Central Mosque, the Nagarjuna Kadampa Buddhist Centre, the Cathedral and the Shree Sanatan Mandir.
At the Synagogue I met a number of people and a gentleman named Alex gave me a tour. We had an interesting discussion about the history of the Abrahamic faiths as he showed me the Torah Scrolls. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Alex was born almost exactly 50 years before I was and that he was planning to celebrate his 80th birthday in March. The stained glass window with the tree of life and the Ten Commandments looked really beautiful, particularly as it was such a sunny day.
After visiting the Synagogue I drove back into the city centre and attended Mass at the Holy Cross Priory Catholic church. I always enjoy visiting this church and I have been here several times before. The building itself is large and imposing and there is a stunning huge crucifix hanging from the ceiling. I walked around, lit a candle and quietly enjoyed the ambience, before taking a seat and observing Holy Mass which began at 12.30pm.
A short walk from the church is the Jain Centre, which like every one of the places I visited on my journey, is fascinating, welcoming and has a very distinct feel about it. The intricate wooden architecture surrounding the temple itself is simply breathtaking and the stained glass windows are a real sight to see. Apart from a lady who was attending to the deities I was the sole visitor in the temple that afternoon and I spent a very peaceful hour without uttering a single word.
The Guru Nanak Gurdwara is about a 5 minute walk from the Jain Centre. The thing I really love about visiting Gurdwaras is the contrast between the wonderful bustling atmosphere in the kitchen and the calm and peace inside the main temple. Again the sun was shining through the windows and again there were friendly people around eager to welcome a stranger in their midst. I wandered upstairs and spent a good while examining the many historical portraits that hang in the lobby of the Sikh museum. The museum is one of the features of this particular Gurdwara and well worth a visit.
A short drive from the Gurdwara is Leicester’s Central Mosque located behind the train station on Conduit Street. This was only my second ever visit to a mosque and unlike the first time where I was given a guided tour this time I was by myself. The entire mosque was completely empty as it wasn’t a designated prayer time and so I sat alone in the enormous prayer hall as the sun shone through the many large windows. It was silent and tranquil and extremely beautiful and I also really enjoyed examining the Arabic calligraphy on the walls.
The wonderfully named World Peace Café at the Nagarjuna Kadampa Buddhist Centre was a hive of activity on the day I visited. It was really great to see so many people enjoying this delightful retreat on an otherwise busy Saturday afternoon. The meditation room looked magnificent with a collection of deities and a large statue of Buddha as the central focal point. As I looked out of the windows of the meditation room I noticed a wall topped with rather vicious looking barbed wire; a very interesting juxtaposition between the serenity of this Holy room and the outside world.
After a quick chai tea and a visit to the gift shop I walked around the corner to the Cathedral. The Cathedral is one of my favourite places in the city and I’ve been here many times. The building itself is huge and there’s certainly a great deal to see, yet it also feels intimate and welcoming, and it’s hard not to feel at peace when spending time here. I had a long and pleasant conversation with a man named John who works here as a verger. We discussed everything from faith and family to prayer and politics. I hadn’t realised until my visit that the Cathedral is actually open every single day of the year, which I think is absolutely brilliant.
The final stop on my pilgrimage around Leicester was the Shree Sanatan Hindu Mandir in Belgrave. I have been to this temple numerous times and it is one of my favourite mandirs in the city. There was certainly a lot going on when I visited with people praying, talking, laughing and singing. It felt really vibrant and colourful. I always find that Hindu temples are particularly lively and exciting places to visit in the evening, which is when special aarti prayers take place.
I had a most uplifting and enjoyable experience visiting these 8 different places of worship around Leicester. I was warmly welcomed everywhere I went by people I had never met before, and not a single person asked me who I was, why I was there, or what faith I belonged to if any.
The thing that really struck me however wasn’t man-made at all. It was the brightness and the warmth of the sunlight which followed me around the city everywhere I went that day. Just as the sunlight lit up the tree of life at the Synagogue and the images of Lord Mahavira in the Jain Temple; so it also lit up the stained glass windows in the churches and the calligraphy on the walls of the Central Mosque.
The visual symbolism alone really blew my mind and it served to remind me that the life-giving, heart-warming and unconditional love of sunlight doesn’t differentiate between the many paths to God. I may have been wandering around Leicester by myself for 8 hours on that day, but with the sun on my face and with sunlight cascading through the windows everywhere I went, I certainly didn’t feel alone.
“After a great deal of consideration I have decided not to seek the Labour Party nomination for Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire.
This is for several reasons. Firstly I thoroughly enjoy my role as a local Councillor here in Beaumont Leys and I want to continue working hard for the people who elected me.
Also I have come to the realisation that I still have a number of personal reservations about this new system of elected Commissioners, and so I cannot in good conscience seek to do the job under such circumstances.
I take great interest in policing matters and I look forward to continuing my work on the Leicestershire Police Authority. I shall also continue to hold this Tory-led government to account as they make savage cuts to policing right across our country.
I would like to thank everyone who has given me such good counsel and support in recent weeks.”
“I’m proud to support Leicester Unite Against Fascism. I’m also proud to be English, having been born and raised here in Leicester.
I condemn the so-called ‘English Defence League’ and everything that they stand for. I love my country England and I refuse to be made to feel a second class citizen because I happen to have darker skin.
Racism and fascism has no place in a civilised society, and I pray that all those people involved with the EDL find the enlightenment they desperately need, in order to change their hateful ways.
We the people of Leicester are united against these EDL fascists and they are not welcome in our city.”
The Iron Lady is an excellent film and well worth seeing if only for Meryl Streep’s mesmerising performance as Margaret Thatcher.
The film is different to what I expected and certainly not a drama or political thriller; more of a biographical recollection.
Essentially the viewer is taken on a journey of flashbacks which recall Thatcher’s life from her own perspective, or rather, the perspective of an aging and lonely old woman suffering from dementia.
The flashbacks begin with Thatcher’s early life and political career, and gradually move on to a variety of highlights from her time as Leader of the Opposition, and then as Prime Minister.
In a way the film is simplistic in that it focuses almost exclusively on Thatcher as a woman, who admittedly had to fight hard to get ahead in a completely male dominated Conservative Party, and later the British political establishment itself. It’s also a very sad and emotive film and may be particularly poignant for those of a strong political persuasion.
For those on the right a once strong and powerful Thatcher is now weak and powerless. For those of us on the left this divisive and often inhumane figure is very much humanised by the indiscriminate effects of time and aging.
The worst thing about the film is a very unconvincing performance from Richard E. Grant who plays Michael Heseltine. Not only did he not look the part whatsoever but it felt as if he hadn’t really bothered to study his subject or try to capture the essence of the man.
Nevertheless barring one or two historical inaccuracies, such as for instance Thatcher’s location when Airey Neave was killed, this is a very watchable film thanks to Streep’s remarkable portrayal.
I particularly enjoyed watching her mannerisms and body language and the way she captured Thatcher’s personality at two very different times in her life. It is fair to say however that the accuracy of the latter portrayal of a senile Margaret Thatcher is debateable, because of the criticism that the film has attracted from Thatcher’s own family.
Overall I would certainly recommend watching the film, and embracing the sadness that comes with seeing a strong person become old, frail and forgetful; a process to which we will all bear witness eventually.
Jan 2012: Here’s my early prediction of the outcome of this year’s US Presidential election. I think Democratic candidate Barack Obama will narrowly win a second term as President with 295 electoral college votes, just ahead of his Republican rival on 243.
I expect the Republicans will eventually nominate Mitt Romney to be their candidate. However if the dramatic result of the GOP caucuses in Iowa is anything to go by, it certainly promises to be a fascinating contest.
UPDATE – 26 October 2012
Based on everything I’ve seen and read over the last 10 months of this extraordinary election campaign I have 2 revisions to make to my forecast from January. I think INDIANA will vote for Romney instead of Obama (11 electoral college votes). However I also think that IOWA will vote for Obama instead of Romney (6 electoral college votes). Overall I predict that President Obama will be re-elected with the following result:
Democrat Barack Obama: 290 electoral college votes
Republican Mitt Romney: 248 electoral college votes
Hundreds of thousands of people have now clicked online to view this shocking YouTube video that went viral earlier today. The clip shows a 34-year-old woman shouting racist abuse to strangers on a tram during a seemingly unprovoked tirade. The woman, who has since been arrested by police, was carrying a young toddler on her lap throughout the incident. A full transcript of her racist rant can be found here.
For me this is just the latest race-related story that has caught my attention in recent weeks. Take Irish Fine Gael councillor Darren Scully for example, who was forced to resign as Mayor of Naas after refusing to represent black constituents, because he found them aggressive and bad mannered. Then there’s FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who eventually apologised after facing widespread condemnation for saying that racism isn’t too big a problem in football, and should simply be settled by a handshake.
And who can forget historian David Starkey’s now infamous BBC Newsnight appearance, in which he quoted from Enoch Powell, blamed the August riots on black Jamaican culture and said that “the whites had become black”. Bizarrely he was cleared of making ‘racist’ remarks by Ofcom despite there being more than 100 complaints.
But it’s not just public figures that have been getting into hot water on the topic of race. In the shadow of the ongoing Stephen Lawrence murder trial most of us can recall the findings of the Macpherson Report, which branded the Metropolitan Police as “institutionally racist”, and called for wider reform of the civil service, local government, the NHS, schools and the judiciary, to address issues of institutional racism.
With statistics showing that black people are 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police, and Asian people are 42 times more like to be held under anti-terrorism legislation, a recent study by the Guardian has also found that ethnic minority defendants are far more likely to be jailed for certain crimes than white defendants.
Just last week Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also accused the banks of racism, claiming that firms owned by individuals of black African backgrounds are 4 times more likely to be denied loans outright, than their white counterparts.
Most of these stories are relatively recent and these are just the ones I know about. Goodness knows how many other similar stories get picked up in regional news reports and local papers up and down the country on a day-to-day basis. Hats off to the Guardian for taking a proactive approach and creating an entire “Race Issues” section on their website.
I’ve always thought of racism as a lot like the common cold: it’s a disgusting condition which rears its ugly head from time-to-time in people from all walks of life, and the best way to avoid catching a bout is to stay away from infected people, i.e. fascists. Most worryingly, racism has also become all too commonplace in our society and for many people it’s just another ordinary part of everyday life.
I believe that despite all our best efforts racism in Britain may well be on the rise, and with the economy in poor shape and levels of unemployment and poverty increasing, things will only get worse before they get better.
I’ve also noticed that people are all too quick to try and find an alternative explanation for language or behaviour that is clearly racist. Sometimes this is through ignorance or naivety, but more often than not it’s because admitting that something is racist can be extremely awkward and unpalatable, particularly in a social setting.
The one thing we can all do to help address the problem is to not let our families and friends get away with adopting a dismissive approach, but instead be direct, vocal and clear about the meaning of racism, and how completely unacceptable it is.
The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief.
Speech delivered to Soar Valley college students on 22 September 2011
Good evening everyone. I’m Sundip Meghani. I’m a lawyer and a politician, so everything I’m about to say is of course true. I’m very proud to be a governor of Soar Valley college. Not because we’ve got an amazing building, brilliant teachers and a fantastic principal – although of course we do – but because we have some of the brightest and most talented students in the whole of Leicester. I’m very glad to be here with all of you, to celebrate your success, along with your parents and your teachers.
I think it’s fair to say that when compared to me, you guys really are the next generation. When I was your age, I didn’t have a mobile phone, I didn’t watch satellite television and I didn’t use the Internet. Mainly because those things were still being invented.
So in many ways I envy what you have. And I don’t mean materialistic things, I mean what you have in terms of time and the extraordinary possibilities that you have in your lives, as you get older. You may not realise it but when you look at the history of the world, you’re all very lucky to be alive at this moment in time. Now I know that sounds a bit strange so let me just expand on what I mean.
At this moment in time, there is no World War, and there is not likely to be another catastrophic World War anytime soon. You live in one of the richest nations on Earth, where you have access to free education and free healthcare. You and your family are protected by the police, and your rights and freedoms are guaranteed by law. You live in a world where the human genome has been mapped and virtually all life threatening diseases will be eradicated in the coming decades. And you live in a world where for the first time in human history, thanks to the Internet, all the people of the world are able to communicate with each other instantly, to share ideas, and work together to tackle man-made problems.
Why am I telling you all this? Well firstly, to illustrate how lucky you are, to be where you are. Secondly, and most importantly, to demonstrate how special you are – each and every one of you. Not just to your families – of course they already think you’re special – but you are special to the world. And to me, to your teachers and to Soar Valley college.
You’re special because you are the future. How well you do in your studies, the kind of career that you eventually attain, and the achievements that you go on to make in your life, matter to all of the adults here in this room today.
So when all these wonderful people put on a graduation ceremony like this, it’s not because we enjoy each other’s company – although we do – it’s because we actually care, about you, and about the future of your education.
I myself was born and raised on a Council estate in Leicester. When I was quite young, in my family, we sometimes didn’t have enough money for food. I never owned the latest gadgets or wore the trendiest clothes. And I certainly didn’t have any major ambitions to really do anything in the future.
The turning point in my life, besides the hard work of my parents to provide for me and my siblings, was the kindness, the encouragement and dare I say it, the love of a handful of my teachers, when I was at school. I was mentored, I was motivated and I was inspired to work hard, think big, to discover my talents and to dream about a different, more exciting future.
As the son of immigrants who came to this country from Uganda and Kenya with virtually nothing, I’m proud to stand in front of you today as a university graduate, a solicitor and the youngest Councillor in the city of Leicester.
So you see whatever your background or upbringing, whatever your ambition in life at the moment, you have the chance to achieve anything you want, and the opportunity to be the master of your own destiny. However it won’t come easy and it won’t happen overnight.
You’ll have to keep doing what you’re doing; achieving good grades and attending regularly at school. You’ll have to undertake extra-curricular activities that you enjoy, and allow them to broaden your horizons. You’ll have to show initiative and motivate yourself to work hard to complete projects, assignments and homework on time. And you’ll have to start thinking about what you want to do later in life; the kind of lifestyle you want to lead, the type of job you want to have, and the subjects you want to study at university or college.
In closing, I would urge you all to not only listen and trust the advice of your teachers and your families, but to also start seriously thinking about the future. Start to aim high and think big, be optimistic and dream the impossible. Most importantly of all, create for yourself a life of purpose, where you put love and hope ahead of greed and fear. And where going to work never feels like a chore, because you’re doing something that you enjoy and something that stimulates your mind.
Congratulations on today and best of luck for the future.
A few days ago I tweeted a recommendation to download and install BlackBerry Protect. In my view this is a brilliant application for two reasons. Firstly it allows you to remotely back-up all of your data (which can then be set to occur automatically), and secondly because it provides additional security features in the event that your BlackBerry is lost or stolen.
The security features allow you to locate your phone on a map and also instruct it to emit a loud noise, all of which is great if you’ve simply misplaced it somewhere nearby. Best of all you can remotely lock and / or completely wipe all the data from your handset, which is surely excellent peace of mind for any BlackBerry owner. However – and much to my frustration – I recently discovered a fatal flaw with this application.
In a nutshell if you lock your handset online with a password, the phone will indeed lock itself, but the password will then not work on the phone. In other words if you lost your phone and subsequently locked it online with the password “torch123”, should you be lucky enough to find your phone again, you would not be able to unlock it with the same password “torch123”.
Worst of all because there is then no way to unlock your phone and no passwords will work, you will be forced to enter an incorrect password ten times, after which point your BlackBerry handset will go into emergency shutdown and completely wipe all your data. The only remedy available to you at this stage would be to follow the entire process through, sit tight as your BlackBerry wipes and resets itself, and then do a back-up restore. Sadly if you didn’t do a back-up then you’re screwed.
I’ve written this up because this is exactly what recently happened to me – twice – firstly because I thought I’d lost my phone, and then I tried the whole thing again to double check, because I knew that I had not made a typo when I had initially set my password. Thankfully I had completed a back-up a few days beforehand so I only lost a small amount of data. However I did also lose all my BlackBerry messenger contacts and all the messages that I’d received between the date of my last back-up and the date of the restore.
My BlackBerry handset does not run off a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, so I’m not sure if that has something to do with it. I have now sent all of this information over to RIM BlackBerry headquarters, so hopefully I’ll soon get an answer to this anomaly. In the meantime if you are a BlackBerry owner and you have installed the BlackBerry Protect application – you have been warned! Having said that, I would recommend downloading the software and regularly backing-up your handset, but just avoid using the remote locking feature until the problem is fixed.
A local resident said to me the other day that we’re very lucky here in Beaumont Leys, as we have everything we need right on our doorstep – and he’s absolutely right!
We have a great deal to offer local residents and visitors to the area. Indeed, earlier this month we played host to the East Midlands Labour Party, who held their bi-annual regional conference at the NSPCC National Training Centre.
Beaumont Leys is an increasingly popular and up-and-coming part of Leicester. In terms of geography, Beaumont Leys is the largest ward in the city, covering approximately 8 square miles. We’ve got a population of roughly 16,000 and there are more than 6,500 homes. We’ve also got a major urban development in the offing, which is likely to see an increase in resident numbers and homes in the coming years.
So to anyone out there looking to move house or relocate their business, or perhaps looking to visit an area that boasts excellent shopping and leisure facilities with wonderful green open spaces, I say come and pay us a visit here in Beaumont Leys.
We have all the facilities and peace and quiet of a small town, with all the benefits and transport infrastructure that comes with being part of a large city. And of course we have the best people in the world!
In light of recent events at the News of the World, I wanted to write to thank you and your staff for the way in which our local paper is run here in Leicester.
Whilst on occasion I may personally disagree with a particular story, I do appreciate the integrity shown by the Leicester Mercury, and the robust, but fair approach taken by the paper.
As a lawyer and as a former journalist, I believe that the press have an important role to play in holding politicians to account, as well as bringing important matters to the attention of the general public.
I also feel that relationships between journalists and those who hold public office should never become too cosy, and to that end I am pleased to say that my personal dealings with several Leicester Mercury journalists, have always been professional and above board.
It would of course be very sad if innocent journalists at the News of the World lost their jobs following the recent scandal. However, with employment laws the way they are in this country, and with such a vast media empire at the disposal of the Murdoch family, I expect most if not all will be re-employed elsewhere in the organisation.
In terms of the paper itself being shut down, I couldn’t be happier. It was always an arrogant and tacky excuse for a newspaper, which for decades abused its market dominance and popularity to both unfairly belittle those in public life, and bully so-called celebrities with information about their private lives.
In my opinion, the recent public outrage is not simply as a result of actions that were illegal, but also as a result of actions that were immoral.
I for one am glad that the Leicester Mercury holds itself to a higher standard, and that we in the county of Leicestershire benefit from an adult newspaper that is keen to focus on real life, and the important issues that matter to ordinary people.
In a place called Patcham just outside Brighton on the south coast of England, there is an impressive white domed pillared structure called The Chattri. Upon this war memorial inscribed in English and Hindi it says:
“To the memory of all the Indian soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their King Emperor this monument erected on the site where the Hindus and Sikhs who died in hospital at Brighton passed through the fire is in grateful admiration and brotherly affection dedicated.”
Over 12,000 wounded Indian soldiers passed through the Brighton and Hove hospitals during the Great War, and The Chattri memorial is built on the same spot where 53 bodies were cremated, with the ashes later scattered into the sea.
These are just 53 of the millions of reasons why I, as a young British man of Indian descent, wear my poppy with pride at this time of year.
For me, this ultimate sacrifice that my fellow British countrymen have given over the course of our shared history, means that I have been indebted to them, from the very moment that I was born.
Although we here in Britain have had our fair share of struggles in a less visible but no less essential movement for civil rights for persons of ethnicity, I am confident that we as a people are more united and integrated than others would have us believe.
And it is through our shared history and heartache, our sacrifices and our defence of freedom and the rule of law, that we have gradually shaped and strengthened the bonds which now unite us as a society.
As we second and third generation British-Asians grow up, advance within our careers and create families of our own, far from being confused or unsure as to why people wear poppies or even whether we, as members of minority ethnic communities can or should also wear them, I sincerely hope that one simple truth is borne in mind.
A poppy is a subtle and dignified public display of unity. Unity with all the countless men and women who have given up their lives fighting for the ideals which make our country what it is, and upon whose sacrifice we can live free, and under the equal protection of the law. Whatever our backgrounds or our upbringing, whatever our political, cultural or religious beliefs, the simple truth is that without the sacrifices of generations of brave individuals that have come before us, we would not be blessed with all that we have, and with all those whom we love.
In the words of Berthold Auerbach, “Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” Enjoy these memorable excerpts from 75 of the most stunning pieces of classical music ever produced. Click through to the original YouTube videos for details of the individual piece and composer.
To honour the State Visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI – Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God – I have compiled this Top 10 list of my favourite, historically interesting Popes:
1. Pope Urban VII was the shortest reigning Pope in history. He became Pope on 15 September 1590, and died a mere thirteen days later on 27 September 1590. His brief papacy gave rise to the world’s first known public smoking ban, when he threatened to excommunicate anyone who consumed tobacco in church.
2. Pope Adrian IV was the only Englishman to ever become Pope. He reigned from 4 December 1154 to 1 September 1159. He was born circa 1100 in Abbots Langley, and his birth name was Nicolas Breakspear. He reputedly died from choking on a fly in his wine glass.
3. Pope Gregory I is the patron saint of musicians, singers, students and teachers. He became Pope on 3 September 590 and died on 12 March 604. Gregorian chant music is named after him, but not the Gregorian calendar, which was instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.
4. Pope Pius IX was the longest reigning Pope, from 16 June 1846 to 7 February 1878, a period of 31 years and 236 days. He formalised a system known as Peter’s Pence; an annual worldwide voluntary financial contribution paid by lay members of the Roman Catholic Church and other persons of goodwill. In 2009, Peter’s Pence raised $82,529,417.00 for the Vatican.
5. Pope Lando became Pope around July or August 913, and reigned until his death around February or March 914. He was one of several Popes to reign during the Saeculum Obscurum; a period of some 60 years when the papacy was strongly influenced by the powerful and corrupt Theophylacti family.
6. Pope John Paul I was the first Pope in more than a thousand years to choose a completely new name for himself. His papacy lasted only 33 days in September 1978, making 1978 a “year of three Popes” for the first time since 1605. He is often referred to as the September Pope or the Smiling Pope. The year 1276 is the only year which saw four Popes on the Throne of St Peter.
7. Pope Celestine V was the last Pope not to have been elected by a conclave. His papacy lasted five months and eight days, commencing on 7 July 1294, and ending with his abdication on 13 December 1294. He is best known for formalising the process by which a Pope could resign, and then relying on that process to tender his own resignation.
8. Pope Benedict IX was the only man ever to have been Pope on more than one occasion, having held three separate papacies between 1032 and 1056. He was also the only Pope ever to sell the papacy, which he did briefly in May 1045 to his godfather, who proclaimed himself Gregory VI, before reclaiming the title by force a few months later.
9. Pope Pius V, who reigned from 7 January 1566 to 1 May 1572, famously excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I of England on 27 April 1570, declaring her to be a heretic. He is also credited for introducing the wearing of white garments by a Pope.
10. Pope Victor I was the first Pope to have been born in the Roman Province of Africa. He reigned from 189 to 199, and is famous for introducing the Latin mass to Rome, which had until his papacy been conducted in Greek.
In Hinduism teachers are considered to be second only to God. Students are taught from a very young age to pay homage to their teachers in order to receive their blessings and their wisdom. In my opinion teachers are the lifeblood of our society. By carefully imparting knowledge from one generation to the next, like batons in a relay race, our teachers help bring about the evolution of our collective human consciousness.
I think most of us tend to remember those teachers who had a lasting impact on our lives. What they did and what they said. The things they taught us and helped us to understand. The way they believed in us and trusted us, inspired us and encouraged us to become better, and to achieve anything we set our minds to.
Just before I’m admitted to the Roll of Solicitors on Monday morning, I want to pay tribute to a number of my former teachers, the men and women who helped make me the man I am today. I am forever grateful to these people, my heroes, for the immeasurable role they’ve had in my life:
Mr J Piper, Mrs E Needham, Mr J Catton, Mr G Campian, Mr J Singh, Mr D Bennett, Mr A Hogg, Mr A Holbrook, Mr M Donnelly, Mr G Tipping, Mr A Cooper, Ms Bhatia, Mr P Crompton, Ms A Crellin, Ms G Kenyon, Mr R Naik, Ms S Zafar, Mr S Nwanuforo, Mr A Wright, Mr D Nixon, Mr B Hicks, Ms M Bakht Ur Rahman, Mr E Hobden, Mrs B O’Reilly, Prof B Blank, Prof A Glees, Prof J Fisher, Mr A Gray, Mr C Stevens, Ms R Grimley, Ms S Peaple, Mr G Hipwell.
“Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defence. That’s my position. I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.” – Sam Seaborn, The West Wing
There is an expectation within the Labour Party that ethnic minorities will remain loyal to the cause come what may. They won’t. In fact, not only is Labour losing popular support amongst British Hindus, but the Tories are making significant inroads into this once rock solid demographic. The trend is reversible, but we need to act decisively in the coming months and years to shore up our vote with Britain’s half a million strong Hindu community.
First, it is important to understand that Hinduism isn’t just a religion, it is a way of life. There is a great deal more than just religious belief that binds the British Hindu population together. It is also worth pointing out that the British Hindu community is becoming increasingly confident, organised and influential, with the emergence of several major umbrella organisations and think tanks in recent years.
Younger second and third generation British Hindus are at the forefront of a progressive revolution within the community. Traditional socio-political trendsetters, such as priests and “community elders”, have been comprehensively replaced by the likes of property developers, high-flying lawyers, and well-connected business people. One of the unfortunate corollaries, however, is that it’s now no longer seen as unfashionable or disloyal to vote Conservative. In some naïve quarters, it has even become something of a status symbol.
The Tory brand has lost it’s racist connotation and aura of elitism. Instead, the Conservative Party has successfully revamped itself as the party of strong family values, educational attainment and success in business. All of which strikes a deep chord with the average British Hindu voter, and with younger professionals in particular. The Conservatives are acutely aware of the benefits that come with increased support from an aspirational British Hindu electorate. David Cameron’s recent Indian jolly was just the latest in a series of concerted efforts to capitalise on Labour’s complacency.
In 1997, just as the Tories were about to be decimated nationally, an organisation called the British Asian Conservative Link was set up to improve the image of the Tory Party and foster better relations with British Asian voters. Their current general secretary, Rickie Sehgal, is a fine example of how strategic thinking on the part of the Tories has helped to deliver support from prominent Hindus.
Since being appointed ethnic minorities officer for Leicester West CLP several weeks ago, I have been speaking to movers and shakers in Britain’s growing Hindu community. What I’ve been hearing has not made for comfortable listening.
Take Sanjay Mistry for example, vice president and media spokesman for the Hindu forum of Britain. He told me that research carried out by the organisation prior to the election found that support for Labour had fallen significantly, to 27% for Labour, 26% for the Conservatives, 21% for the Liberal Democrats, and 21% undecided.
The Hindu Forum of Britain also found that voting among British Hindus had become much more issues-focused in recent years. Crime, education, healthcare and the economy were the top areas of concern, with little regard for Hindu-specific issues such as cremations and religious rights and freedoms. Sanjay also told me that in his opinion:
“Hindu voters are more likely to vote for Labour if their policies advocate improvements to the economy, increased jobs and support for businesses. Should the Labour party move backward and more to the left, I believe they will lose support from the Hindu community.”
“In the early years the Labour government built strong links with the Hindu community, but in later years Hindus were marginalised and ignored. There was less effort and investment in engaging with the Hindu community compared to other faith communities. The economy was one of the biggest issues for Hindu voters at the last election and it remains so. I think that Hindu business leaders, entrepreneurs and economists are already more likely to support the Conservative party, and the Conservatives are generally gaining support from British Hindus.”
Kapil Dudakia, respected columnist and adviser to a number of Hindu organisations, is much more blunt in addressing why Labour has been losing support from British Hindus:
”The Hindu community has given Labour a lot of goodwill over many decades and many elections. However there is now a clear sense that whilst votes are accepted by the party, when it comes to doing something for the Hindu community there appears to be little in the way of substance. We still have serious inequalities and a lack of representation in government departments and other public bodies, there is comparatively limited support and capital funding for voluntary Hindu organisations, and there remains a distinct lack of Hindus being selected by Labour to stand in winnable seats, to name a few examples. Labour would do well to address these concerns by moving forwards into 2010 and beyond, rather than going back to the 1970s.”
So the message to Labour from British Hindus is clear. The issues which matter most to British Hindus are the same ones that matter to everybody else: health, education, crime, the economy. If you get these issues wrong, British Hindus will not support you. When it comes to Hindu-specific issues, though – like funding for community organisations and the selection of Hindu PPCs in Labour seats – British Hindus feel neglected and taken for granted.
Nevertheless, British Hindus still retain tremendous goodwill towards Labour. There is a shared history which still resonates. The party still starts every election with an advantage. But it is an advantage which Labour needs to work much harder to convert into votes. Labour needs to embrace the community again, engage with it directly and show it some respect. It’s not too late to stop the British Hindu slide away from Labour. But it soon will be.