The Case For Modern British Conservatism – By A Former Labour Councillor

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.

Introduction

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

Building Competence

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.

Economic Credibility

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.

Outdated Debate

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

An Awakening

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.

Labour’s Predicament

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.

Political Boundaries

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.

Defending Womanhood

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

Real Progressives

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.

Legacies

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.

Embracing our imperfections. Encouraging ambition. Empowering individuals.

Building happier, safer lives, and taking our nation forwards.

To an even brighter future.

Quitting Labour After 20 Years: How and why Labour became an institutionally racist, anti-Indian party, detached from the lives of aspirational workers

1. Introduction

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 September 2019, in keeping with its foreign policy approach – of siding with separatist groups and terrorists, over democratic nation states and British allies – Labour passed an emergency motion on Kashmir at its annual conference, containing appalling anti-India rhetoric.

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.

Other applicants criticised the party’s lack of transparency. Labour Friends of India put out a strongly worded statement on candidate selections. The chair of Leicester East Labour, Cllr John Thomas – a respected figure from our white working class community – resigned from Labour in disgust.

And days before the general election, a group of Indian-heritage Leicester Labour councillors published an open letter, denouncing the party’s nominee – a long-time friend of Jeremy Corbyn – and affirming that anti-Indian bigotry was intensifying.

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.

And it is not just ordinary party members behaving like emotional adolescents. In June 2020, dozens of minority ethnic Labour MPs put their names to a despicable letter sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel, one of four British Indians in the cabinet.

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.

Is this what Labour had in mind when it arrogantly declared it alone can unlock the talents of Britain’s ethnic minorities – with MPs of colour orchestrating bigoted political stunts, to inflame racial tensions?

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.

He initially neglected to reach out to Hindu organisations when meeting with community groups over COVID. He failed to take any action against his predecessor, despite Corbyn severely undermining his leadership, by criticising Labour’s decision to apologise and pay damages to its whistle-blowers.

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.

BBC News interview around the time of the Leicester East selection in November 2019

Resignation from Labour

Letter to David Evans – General Secretary of the Labour Party

 

Dear Mr Evans

Cancellation of Labour Party membership

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.

Yours sincerely

Sundip Meghani

The flags of the United Kingdom and the Republic of India

Statement on the Labour parliamentary selection for Leicester East

“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.”

Sundip Meghani

BBC News television interview to discuss my statement

Statement published on Twitter on 12 November 2019

Subsequent media coverage of this story:

TwitterBBC NewsThe TimesPolitics HomeLabourListLeicester Mercury – London Evening StandardHuffington PostNews India ExpressGuido FawkesConnected to IndiaOutlook IndiaHindustan TimesTimes of India – News 18India Inc Group24 Plus News – Tribune IndiaBusiness StandardEastern Eye

48 hours that changed my life

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.

At the age of 29 I was elected as the youngest councillor in the city of Leicester. It was an incredible feeling to have been chosen to represent my local community on the council.

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.

Dedicated to my grandfather Jayantilal Narsidas Dattani

Resignation Statement – Stepping down from Leicester City Council

“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.

I was proud to sit on the planning committee and vote to rebuild my old secondary school, Babington Community College. I also raised money for charities in Beaumont Leys; opposed illegal traveller encampments on behalf of residents; highlighted the damaging impact of Tory and Lib Dem policies on my constituents; and sought to inspire the next generation.

On behalf of the city more generally, I led efforts to save 200 policing jobs back in February 2012, and I spoke about policing cuts at Labour’s national conference.

I also brought conferences to the city to boost business; pushed for a new riverside memorial space to scatter ashes; supported asylum seekers who had settled here; raised the issue of ever increasing homelessness; campaigned to reduce the amount of sugar in school meals; and stood up for Leicester when outsiders sought to create division.

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.”

Cllr Sundip Meghani

Celebrating Navratri with local people in Oadby and Wigston

Attending Navratri celebrations hosted by the Oadby and Wigston Hindu CommunityI 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.

Attending Navratri celebrations hosted by the Oadby and Wigston Hindu CommunityI 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.

Attending Navratri celebrations hosted by the Oadby and Wigston Hindu Community

Delighted to be Labour’s MP candidate for Harborough

“I was delighted to be selected on 4 August as Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Harborough in the upcoming general election. It is a huge honour to stand as a Labour candidate and I am very grateful to party members for entrusting me to lead our local campaign.

We will be flying the flag for Labour and campaigning in Oadby, Wigston, Fleckney, Kibworth, Great Glen, Market Harborough, and right across the constituency. We will also help election efforts in key marginal seats in the East Midlands region. Read more in this Leicester Mercury article.

We are looking forward to a positive campaign and we will be working hard to help elect a Labour government in 2015 led by Ed Miliband. Please get in touch to join our campaign – we would love to have your support!”

Cllr Sundip Meghani

Read more: People in Harborough, Oadby and Wigston are fed up with failed Tory and Lib Dem policies

With Labour Party activists in Harborough

Leicester people condemn vandalism of Gandhi statue

Statue of Mahatma Gandhi in LeicesterMany 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.

The statue of Mahatma Gandhi in LeicesterThis 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.

The statue of Mahatma Gandhi in LeicesterIt 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.

The statue of Mahatma Gandhi in LeicesterWe 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.

Mahatma GandhiUltimately 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.

The statute of Mahatma Gandhi in Leicester

Speech to Council on the plight of refugees and asylum seekers

My speech to Council can be viewed here.

Still Human Still HereI whole heartedly support Cllr Clarke’s motion and I’m really glad to see my fellow Labour Councillors taking a proactive and compassionate stance on this important humanitarian issue.

I think I might be one of a few people in this room whose parents and grandparents were in-fact refugees, and I’ve spoken previously on my family’s connection to Uganda.

I was having a conversation with my dad recently and he was telling me about how he and his family arrived in this country with £55 in their pockets.

He was also telling me about how the Ugandan military had put up many checkpoints along the route to the airport.

Families were routinely robbed of what little possessions they had. Worse still, women were taken from queues, only to be raped and murdered indiscriminately.

Ugandan Asian refugees arriving in BritainIt’s quite a horrific part of my own family history, but I think it certainly played an important role in my own upbringing, and the values that my parents instilled in me.

However I think it’s also true to say that we don’t necessarily need to have had a personal experience with the plight of refugees, in order to be able to empathise with it, to understand it and to want to see things change.

So I have a lot of time for decent, conscientious people who recognise that we have a moral human duty to try to help refugees.

And it’s one of the many reasons why I’m so proud to be a Labour Party member and activist, because it is the Labour Party that has always stood up, for the rights of the downtrodden and the disadvantaged. It is the Labour Party that has time again campaigned for social justice, and for Britain to play a leading role in the world, when it comes to offering humanitarian assistance.

Contrast this with the way the current government is playing party politics with the lives of refugees, whipping up fear and resentment, and failing to offer genuine help to many asylum seekers who have temporarily settled in Britain.

Visiting the Leicester Zimbabwean AssociationMany of you will be familiar with the case of my former constituent Evenia Mawongera, a grandmother who had fled to Britain some 10 years ago, who late last year was forcibly deported back to Zimbabwe.

Evenia had the support of her local church and Leicester’s strong and vibrant Zimbabwean community, many of whom live in Beaumont Leys. She also had the support of our City Mayor, the city’s 3 MPs, probably every councillor in this chamber, and many other agencies, community groups and even our local press.

And yet despite the best efforts of Leicester people to help one of their own, Home Secretary Theresa May refused to intervene.

After Evenia was deported back to Zimbabwe the Leicester Mercury ran an article in October 2013, reporting on the concerns of Evenia’s friends and family, who said that they had been unable to reach her, and that they feared for her safety.

Of course there are people who have legitimate fears about newcomers, whether they’re refugees or economic migrants; the biggest of which is an understandable concern about the finite resources that we have as a nation and as a city.

It’s right that these fears are addressed with respect and serious debate. But it’s also right that we understand and explain the very big difference between economic migrants and those who come here as refugees and asylum seekers.

I think another thing that people also worry about is the loss of British culture and British identity, almost as if Britishness was a tangible thing, and the more you dilute it, the weaker it becomes.

Britishness is a mindset and a way of lifeHowever I fundamentally disagree with this. In my view Britishness is a mind-set and a way of life. It exists in the hearts and minds of people who value what it is that makes our country great: from our civil liberties and social freedoms, to our respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law; from our sense of humour and our shared history, to our love of quirky things and our compassion for people and animals. And it is this sense of British compassion that we must tap into, to convince those in power and ordinary British people that it is both right and proper that we do our bit, to help refugees and asylum seekers.

Persecution abroad should not lead to destitution here, and those who arrive in Britain fearing for their lives, should be given sanctuary, shelter and support, so that they – just like my parents and grandparents – can work hard and contribute, to enriching this great nation of ours.

Raising money for charities in Beaumont Leys

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.

At the Midlands Asian Lawyers ball with Dr Denis Tanfa from Restorative Justice Initiative

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.

Speech to Council: motion to recognise the contribution of Ugandan Asians

Click here to 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.

Thank you.

Marking the 40th anniversary of Ugandan Asians in Leicester

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

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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.

My first year as a Councillor – activities and achievements

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.

I’ve been fortunate to have two excellent co-Councillors in Vi Dempster and Paul Westley, as well as a good deal of support from our hardworking local MP Liz Kendall, and City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby. It’s a real pleasure to be part of such a great Labour team.

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:

Policing:

  • Appointed as a Member of the Leicestershire Police Authority and attended numerous Authority and sub-committee meetings.
  • Delivered a speech on policing cuts at the 2011 Labour Party conference and discussed the issue with the Chair of the Police Federation.
  • Raised the issue of policing cuts in the Council chamber as well as in the local, regional and national press.
  • Led the Labour team at the Leicestershire Police Authority in fighting to save nearly 200 jobs and helping to secure neighbourhood and frontline policing.
  • Attended a special conference on the ‘Roots of Violent Radicalisation’ hosted by the Home Affairs Select Committee and Leicester East MP Keith Vaz.
  • Together with co-Councillors, approved funding for a local police community safety shop at the Beaumont Leys shopping centre.

Education and young people:

  • Continued to work hard as a school governor at Soar Valley college and took on a new role as a governor at Beaumont Lodge primary school.
  • Delivered a speech on achievement at Soar Valley College in Rushey Mead.
  • Delivered a speech on aspiration at Babington College in Beaumont Leys.
  • Attended a special conference on the application of new technologies in schools.
  • Took up an appointment as a Member of Court at the University of Leicester.
  • Attended summer fetes with co-Councillors at Glebelands primary and Beaumont Lodge primary schools, and the Beaumont Lodge Neighbourhood Association.
  • Delivered a speech at the University of Leicester in support of the ‘Living Wage’ campaign being run by Labour Students.

Health and community:

  • Helped set up and Chair a new community task group to tackle domestic violence in Beaumont Leys and Abbey.
  • Actively supported the campaign to save the children’s heart centre at the Glenfield General Hospital in Beaumont Leys.
  • Attended a special event organised by the Somali community in Beaumont Leys.
  • Launched the British Heart Foundation’s Big Donation event at the Beaumont Leys shopping centre.
  • Attended the official opening of the new Beaumont ward at the Bradgate Mental Health Unit in Beaumont Leys.
  • Visited a new locally-run free lunch club at Christ the King church.

Transport and environment:

  • Voted at Planning Committee in support of modernising Leicester train station.
  • Participated in a special climate change and water management conference.
  • Worked with co-Councillors and local businesses to help tackle parking problems in parts of north Beaumont Leys.
  • Became actively involved in the work of the Castle Hill Country Park user group.
  • Attended a special conference on local transport policy in Leicester.
  • Helped secure 11 new grit bins for locations throughout Beaumont Leys.

Housing:

  • Attended a special conference on student housing and future strategy.
  • Wrote an article about increasing levels of homelessness and spent Christmas Day helping at a local homeless shelter to raise awareness.
  • Voted at Planning Committee in support of the creation of new housing developments and student flats across the city.
  • Hosted public meetings with fellow Councillors, the local MP and the Mayor to discuss traveller encampments and the on-going consultation on proposed sites.

Business and jobs:

  • Agreed to join the board of the Cooke e-Learning Foundation, a Beaumont Leys  based enterprise helping people to train for jobs.
  • Attended a conference and dinner hosted by the Indo British Trade Council.
  • Visited the Beaumont Leys Enterprise Centre to support local businesses.
  • Spoke in the Council chamber on the economy and drafted an article on how the Budget will adversely affect Beaumont Leys.
  • Hosted the 2012 HSBC English Asian Business Awards in Manchester and worked to secure Leicester as the 2013 host city.

Social justice and charity:

  • Lobbied the Foreign Office and raised the issue of the Sri Lankan civil war with Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt MP.
  • Attended numerous public events to oppose cuts to Legal Aid and lobbied the Solicitor General Edward Garnier QC MP on the issue.
  • Attended a fundraiser in support of ‘Unique Home for Girls’, a charity caring for orphaned and abandoned girls.
  • Visited the offices of Leicestershire AIDS Support Services and attended the annual World AIDS Day service at Leicester Cathedral.
  • Attended the launch of a 3-day festival organised by the Pushti Nidhi charity.

Culture and faith:

  • Met with Leicester Council of Faiths and attended events during inter-faith week.
  • Visited numerous places of worship across Leicester belonging to all of the city’s main faith communities.
  • Attended a concert of the Philharmonia Orchestra and an ‘Orchestra Unwrapped’ concert promoting music to school children.
  • Attended ‘Out of Africa’; an annual celebration of African culture hosted by Harvest City Church.
  • Attended an Inter-Cultural Evening hosted by the Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police.
  • Attended a lecture on Hindu and Christian dialogue hosted by the Leicester Friends of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.

Attendance record at all Leicester City Council & Planning Committee meetings: 100%

Statement regarding Police and Crime Commissioner elections

“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.”

Cllr Sundip Meghani

Labour protects neighbourhood policing and officer numbers‏ in Leicestershire

Members of the Leicestershire Police Authority (LPA) voted on Tuesday 21 February to increase the police precept by 2.5% for the coming financial year. Members rejected the Government’s offer of a one-off grant for a 0% precept freeze and opted instead for a baseline increase to secure a stronger financial position in the longer term.

Thanks to a concerted and united effort by Labour Members – Cllr Sundip Meghani, Cllr Barbara Potter, Cllr Lynn Senior (City Members) and Cllr Max Hunt (County Member) – together with the strong support of City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, the Labour Party managed to achieve a good result for the people of Leicestershire.

All four Labour Members voted in favour of the 2.5% increase whereas two Tory Councillors and one Liberal Democrat Councillor from Leicestershire County Council voted for a 0% freeze. To their credit the Chair of the LPA and all of the independent Members present also voted for the rise.

The 2.5% precept rise means that the average Band D property will pay an extra £4.24 a year. However by securing a 2.5% precept increase Labour has strengthened the position of the Police Authority in the longer term, saved nearly 200 police jobs and safeguarded neighbourhood and frontline policing.

Labour has also listened to the overwhelming majority of people in Leicester and Leicestershire, 75% of whom favoured a rise in the police precept when consulted by the LPA.

The simple truth is that unlike Conservative and Liberal Democrat County Councillors who tried to cut services and police numbers still further, Labour Councillors have succeeded in protecting hundreds of police jobs, protecting neighbourhood policing and protecting the integrity of a truly local and responsive police force here in Leicestershire.

As this Tory-led Government seeks to cut 30,000 police jobs and risk increases in crime and anti-social behaviour, Labour will continue to listen to the concerns of ordinary people, and continue to fight hard to protect neighbourhood policing and officer numbers right across our country.

Diary of a delegate: my week at Labour Conference 2011

SATURDAY 24 SEPTEMBER:

I arrived into Liverpool on Saturday afternoon and I was instantly impressed with the city. I was also pleasantly surprised with my accommodation; a spacious penthouse apartment with a balcony overlooking the docks and Conference venue. I spent the afternoon having drinks with my good friends and fellow Leicester Councillors Neil Clayton and Patrick Kitterick, as well as exploring the impressive Conference venue. Neil and I briefly gate-crashed the London reception, partly because there wasn’t really much else going on in the Conference venue, and partly because we wanted to hear Ken Livingstone speak. Just as we were leaving Harriet Harman entered the room and headed our way. We had a quick chat and I reminded her of her recent visit to the East Midlands Regional Conference, which I proudly explained had been held in Beaumont Leys, the very ward I represent on the Leicester City Council. We later headed over to the All Delegates reception where we were met by friends and colleagues from the East Midlands Labour Party regional office. It was great to meet up with fellow delegates and also spend some time getting to know our excellent East Midlands Labour team. We ended the night with more drinks and a bit of sightseeing around Liverpool. All-in-all a very warm and friendly welcome to Liverpool with a relaxed start to Conference 2011.

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SUNDAY 25 SEPTEMBER:

Sunday was the first full day at Conference. For me the day began at 12pm with the East Midlands delegates briefing lunch. We received a useful overview of processes and procedures, together with detailed information on the various votes that were due to take place. We also had a good talk from Vernon Coaker, Shadow Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice. The 2pm opening plenary session included a welcome from Liverpool City Council and various other speakers. A recommendation was made to Conference that the Refounding Labour report be accepted. Four CLPs spoke against it, on the basis that they wanted more time to consider it, but it was clear that the vast majority of CLPs were in favour. Both the outgoing General Secretary Ray Collins and the incoming General Secretary Ian McNicol gave excellent speeches. After the London Report, a vote on accepting the Refounding Labour report vote took place, which I’m proud to say that I supported on behalf of Leicester West CLP. After Conference was adjourned I headed over to the Progress Rally at 6pm. Douglas Alexander was a brilliant speaker and so was our own Leicester West MP Liz Kendall. Rachel Reeves was very impressive and clearly on top of her pensions brief. Ivan Lewis was a good speaker as well and gave a passionate rousing speech. Tessa Jowell also gave a lengthy speech in which she called herself a ‘veteran moderniser’. After the Progress Rally I headed over to the Movement for Change fringe event, which was extremely popular and very well attended with Stella Creasy, Chukka Umuna and David Miliband making up the panel. David was extraordinary. He was saying things that others still hadn’t said yet and his observations were insightful and accurate. David got a well deserved and lengthy standing ovation when the event ended. I later attended the East Midlands reception along with friends and colleagues from across the region. A few of us in the Leicester delegation ended the day with dinner in Liverpool’s famous Chinatown, which luckily for me, was just a short walk away from where I was staying.

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MONDAY 26 SEPTEMBER:

I arrived at the main Conference venue and was briefed on attending a ‘compositing meeting’ that was due to take place later that morning. Essentially various motions had been submitted by CLPs around the country, and the most popular motions that had been chosen by the delegates, had to be amalgamated. Leicester West CLP was one such successful CLP and our motion on public sector pensions had to be amalgamated with those of several other CLPs with similar motions. After successfully compositing the Leicester West motion, and voting for Kevin Hepworth and Rose Burley for the National Constitutional Committee, I spent some time visiting the various exhibition stands. I spoke with a number of different organisations, including a representative from Women’s Aid, with whom I discussed domestic violence issues in and around Leicester. I made it in to Conference hall to watch Ed Balls deliver his speech, before traipsing up to the Novotel hotel for a fringe event on police and crime commissioners, organised by Policy Exchange. Hazel Blears and Vernon Coaker were on the panel and the event was standing room only. I asked questions on diversity and timetables, to which the panel made clear they thought there wouldn’t be many women or BAME police and crime commissioners, but that we did need to move fast in order to start selecting solid Labour candidates. I headed back to Conference venue for the prosperity and work debate and I was pleased to see that the Leicester West composited motion on pensions was accepted by Conference. I later visited Hill Dickinson LLP for The Law Society reception. I met up with a number of good friends, including Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the next President of The Law Society, Carol Storer, Director of the Legal Aid Practioners Group, and Lord Willy Bach, Shadow Legal Aid Minister. I had a number of very useful discussions about legal aid cuts. Heading back to Conference venue I struck up a conversation with a diplomat from the US Embassy. We discussed British and American politics, foreign policy, and Labour Party politics, and she also kindly invited me to visit the US Embassy in the future. I later attended a law and order fringe hosted by the New Statesman, where Mehdi Hassan interviewed Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper. To end the evening a group of us headed over to the Diversity Nite dinner, hosted by Leicester’s own Keith Vaz, where hundreds of guests were entertained by an array of interesting speakers.

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TUESDAY 27 SEPTEMBER:

The third full day of Conference essentially revolved around the Leader’s speech. Prior to that however, I attended the sustainable communities debate in the Conference hall, where Tom Watson and Chris Bryant both spoke brilliantly in relation to phone hacking. There were major queues to get in to the Conference hall for Ed Miliband’s speech, although the queues did add a certain air of excitement to the whole thing. Ed Miliband spoke extremely well and got a very lengthy standing ovation. His key message of a ‘new bargain’ ought to resonate well with the British public if they get to hear about it. Throughout the week I did find myself in a ‘Conference bubble’, relying primarily on Twitter for up-to-date information, and the BBC News mobile website. Watching television or reading newspapers felt quite slow and laborious in comparison to the fast non-stop pace of Conference. After the Leader’s speech I drafted my own speech on the issue of policing cuts. Colleagues from Regional Office had convinced me to give it a go and to see if I could get called to speak at the following day’s crime and justice debate. I also managed to catch up my good friend Neena Gill, former West Midlands MEP, who was around for the day before having to catch a flight the following morning. In the evening a few of us headed over to the Liberty fringe event chaired by Shami Chakrabarti. It was great to see Leicester’s Keith Vaz on the panel and he spoke brilliantly on the issue of  legal aid cuts; he clearly knew the subject area very well. Shadow Solicitor General Catherine McKinnel was also very clued up and spoke brilliantly. I spoke with her briefly afterwards and invited her along to address the Junior Lawyers Division at some point in the future. After dinner with my good friends Vijay Riyait and Anne Glover, I attended the Co-operative Party reception. It was good to see so many Leicester friends, including Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth and fellow Leicester Councillor Rory Palmer. I spent the best part of the night partying with friends and it ended with another late 3am finish.

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WEDNESDAY 28 SEPTEMBER:

Wednesday was by far my favourite day of Conference as I had the most extraordinary honour and high privilege of being called to address delegates. I delivered my speech on policing cuts during the crime and justice debate in the morning session. I was called to speak by Angela Eagle, after I managed to catch her attention on my third attempt, using a blue flashing lighter that had been given to me by a constituent. It went down well and I felt that I managed to do my bit to contribute to the debate and underline the importance of the policing cuts issue. I subsequently received numerous calls from media outlets and agreed to do several interviews. Paul McKeever, Chair of the Police Federation also addressed Conference, giving an excellent speech for which he received a standing ovation. I managed to catch up with Paul afterwards and I had a fruitful discussion with him about how passionately the Labour Party is on board with this incredibly important issue, and how we recognise its significance for our country, and for all our police officers. After lunch I sat in on the health and education debates, and I really enjoyed listening to excellent speeches from one Liverpool head teacher in particular, and the head of Norwegian Labour Youth movement. Both speakers received standing ovations as did John Healey and Andy Burnham. Afterwards I attended the Electoral Reform Society fringe with friends, where John Denham for Labour, Andrew Boff for the Tories and Chris Huhne for the Liberal Democrats debated electoral reform. We later headed over to the #Lab11Tweetup organised by our very own Twitter queen Kerry McCarthy. It was brilliant to see so many friends and fellow tweeters and it was a really great event. Coupled with a relaxed dinner this was really a perfect end to a perfect day.

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THURSDAY 29 SEPTEMBER:

I had a very early start to my final day at Conference waking up at 7.30am after less than 4 hours sleep. I was really struggling to get my voice back following after the previous few days. Luckily I managed to find my voice in time for a BBC Leicester radio interview just after 8am. It was a tough interview but I felt that I managed to make clear that the previous day’s speeches on policing cuts were about highlighting an important issue that the public have a right to know, and that the loss of 16,000 police officers across the country may well impact on crime in the future. I finished packing and arrived at the Conference hall in time for some excellent speeches by Caroline Flint, Hilary Benn and Harriet Harman. After singing The Red Flag and Jerusalem, Labour Conference 2011 officially came to an end. We made our way back to Leicester feeling positive and optimistic, inspired to carry on fighting for Labour values, and for the values that matter to the British people.

Speech to Labour Conference on policing cuts

Speech delivered to Labour Party Conference on Wednesday 28 September 2011

Conference. I’m Sundip Meghani from Leicester West CLP.

I’m a solicitor, a newly elected Labour and Co-operative Councillor in Leicester, and a member of the Leicestershire Police Authority.

Yesterday our Leader Ed Miliband began the substantive part of his speech by saying “this is a dangerous time – a dangerous time for Britain”. And he’s absolutely right.

“By slashing police numbers the Tories are putting peoples’ lives at risk.” Not my words Conference – the words of a Merseyside police officer, a father of two, whom I spoke with right outside this venue.

Relying on the police is part of British society. We take them for granted. If our cars gets smashed or our homes gets burgled, the first thing we do is dial 999 – safe in the knowledge that police officers will arrive on the scene and be there to help us, protect us, and secure our property.

Now don’t get me wrong, the loss of up to 30,000 police jobs right across Britain will be a godsend. A godsend for those rioters and looters who were never caught and will probably commit crimes again, a godsend for serious and organised crime gangs for whom breaking the law is a way of life, and a godsend for those extremists in our midst, silently plotting to again bring terror to our streets.

When the riots took place in mid-August we also had disturbances in Leicester. Our directly elected Labour Mayor Peter Soulsby was himself out on the streets late into the night with the police, as gangs of youths attacked bars and local businesses. Conference, our Mayor Peter was forced to stand by and watch, as his own daughter’s bar in central Leicester was also smashed up.

In Leicestershire we’re losing more than 200 police officers and more than 200 support staff. So not only will we have fewer police officers on the streets, but when there aren’t enough support staff to do the admin, more police officers may end up in the back office.

The simple truth Conference is that this Tory-led government has lost the plot on law and order. They’re hell bent on making our Thin Blue Line even thinner. For those 20 millionaires who sit on the Cabinet, crime and anti-social behaviour is something that happens to other people, and police officers are just another casualty of Thatcherite economics.

Well we won’t stand for it Conference, and our party – the Labour Party – will stand by our police heroes, and fight to protect the safety and security of the British people.

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who helped campaign for Labour in Beaumont Leys: Vijay, Sam, Charles, Richard, Eileen, Chris, Hemant, Aryan, Jeevan, Dina, Leo, Suraj, Rupal, Jamini, Ravina, Leena, Mahboob, Sheraz, Asif, Tahir, Abdul, Shane, Sally, Matt, Naomi, Vijay, Chi, Jason, Michelle, Shaheen, Adam, Zaheer, Justin, Peter, Ashley, Tammy, Liz, Richard, Phillip, Jitu, Riad and Vikesh. You all made a really big difference!

Why Labour is losing the Hindu vote

– Written exclusively for Labour Uncut –

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.”

And I had similar responses from others. This from Sanjay Jagatia, Secretary General of the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK):

“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.

David Miliband wins BAME Hustings

Well it’s been an exciting day here in Leicester, as the Labour Party leadership hopefuls converged on the city, to take part in the first of a series of special BAME hustings (click here for a timetable of other upcoming hustings). Along with a number of other people I was Tweeting live from the event, primarily to get the message out, and let those in my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn networks follow the event.

Unsurprisingly a number of people on Twitter have been questioning the need for the Labour Party to hold a special BAME hustings. Equally unsurprisingly, most of those who appear to have an issue with the concept are either a) not from a BAME background or b) not Labour supporters.

As the Ethnic Minorities Officer for the Leicester West constituency, I know for a fact that the vast majority of Labour Party members and supporters have no issue with there being a special BAME hustings. Indeed it’s not even a new concept. I remember attending the Deputy Leadership BAME hustings in Leicester almost 3 years ago to the day, where both Harriet Harman and Alan Johnson stole the show, before both coming first and second respectively in the proceeding contest.

Today’s BAME hustings, which were held at Soar Valley college in Leicester where I’m proud to be a school governor, attracted a diverse mix of people from all backgrounds and all religions. The questions were also fairly similar to the types of questions being asked at other hustings up and down the country. There was of course an underlying BAME theme to the debate, and every candidate did a good job at tackling the big issues, and tying them in with the specific needs and concerns of BAME communities.

For me however, there was only one candidate who stood head and shoulders above the rest. That candidate was DAVID MILIBAND, who himself is the son of Jewish immigrants to Britain.

David spoke of the need to run our immigration system with humanity and the need to tackle international problems with international solutions. He also committed to a target for BAME MPs and promised to lead the drive to make Labour the equal opportunities party. On Labour’s record in Government David was frank and honest, saying that the “worst thing that ever happened to Tony Blair was George Bush”. He also lamented the ‘British jobs for British workers’ phrase, calling it a mistake.

And to minority communities here in Britain, David spoke of the responsibility that we all share to become part of the wider society. He praised Leicester’s proud history of multiculturalism and diversity, and challenged the city to lead the way and show the rest of the country how it’s done. David certainly has a lot of support in Leicester and beyond, and indeed earlier today nearly 200 members of BAME communities backed David Miliband for the leadership of the Labour Party.

Based on the applause and the dozens of people I spoke with at the hustings, it was clear that David Miliband had the most support from the hundreds who attended, with Diane Abbott a close second, particularly after a very well received closing speech. There was also a good deal of support for Ed Miliband, who had been out campaigning earlier in the day in the city’s Castle Ward, where Labour are contesting a Council by-election on 15 July 2010.

Overall it was a fantastic and well-attended hustings, generating a great deal of interest and excellent, purposeful debate. Like many other Labour Party members and activists across the country I look forward to an exciting summer ahead, and a time when the party of progressive politics is once again, back in power.