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 – 15 August 2020

 

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

Why I’m standing to become a Labour Member of Parliament

Please vote Labour on Thursday 7 MayOver the next few months most people are going to be swamped with campaign slogans, manifestos, debates and broadcasts, leaflets, billboards and doorstep visits.

I know this to be true because I’m one of those political types planning to bombard fellow citizens with much of the above. (Sorry about that.)

But why do we go to the trouble of campaigning to seek political office?

For my part it’s because I’m not prepared to settle for the ways things are, and I believe we have a duty to improve society, so everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. I also detest injustice with a passion.

As the son of refugees, having grown up with hunger, poverty, discrimination and hopelessness, I know what it feels like to live in an unjust world.

That’s why I’m disgusted with the current state of affairs where ordinary working people – as well as those who are young, disabled or less well off – are being made to pay for the worst excesses of the rich, the powerful and the greedy.

I’m also dissatisfied with the lack of well paid jobs, the chronic shortage of affordable housing, and the deterioration of our public services, especially the NHS. For these reasons I’m standing for election to become the Labour MP for Harborough, Oadby and Wigston.

It’s a huge challenge to undertake, but I’m immensely proud to be fighting for local people, and trying to make a difference. I’m also proud to be associated with the Labour Party.

Ours is the party of social justice and solidarity; aspiration and achievement. We believe we can and should work hard to create a fairer, stronger and more prosperous society.

We also believe that unless we consciously stand together and help each other get on in life, society will become more unequal, and in the long term this will damage our nation as a whole.

In this election Labour has a range of excellent ideas and policies to get our country back on track, and to create new jobs, restore a sense of fairness, and improve our NHS. But to get things done we’ll have to convince people to vote for change.

Now obviously my opinion is biased as I want everyone to cast their ballots for Labour. But to paraphrase Plato: when we refuse to get involved in politics we end up being governed by our inferiors.

Whatever your view of our political system – or indeed politicians – I hope you exercise your right to vote on polling day. Don’t leave it to someone else to decide what happens to yours and your family’s future.

Click here to view my pledges to the people of Harborough, Oadby and Wigston

 

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!

All of the above successes and the many other positive changes we have seen in Beaumont Leys and across our city have only been possible because we have a Labour-controlled Council here in Leicester, as well as three brilliant hardworking Labour MPs in Keith Vaz, Liz Kendall and Jon Ashworth.

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.

I remain committed to the Labour Party and the Co-operative Party and I will be working hard between now and May 2015 to help elect a Labour government.”

Cllr Sundip Meghani

Government rips-off Harborough Council and residents

PRESS RELEASE

scrap the bedroom taxNewly-released figures reveal Harborough District Council has had to dip into its own coffers to meet the government’s edict to implement the Bedroom Tax.

Government ministers repeatedly claimed their Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) would help councils support the most vulnerable hit by this regressive tax. But figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions have shown many local authorities have been forced to use taxpayers’ money to top up inadequate DHP funds.

Harborough District Council has had to supplement its DHP fund by £2,098 as the £58,543 the council received proved to be insufficient. Seventy other councils across England and Wales found themselves with shortfalls.

According to the National Housing Federation, 390 households in the Harborough constituency have been hit by the Bedroom Tax, which sees people living in social housing being charged for bedrooms the government deems the occupants do not need. However, the inflexible policy doesn’t take into account the shortage of smaller for people to move to or the needs of families with disabled members, those who take on fostering responsibilities or those with a family member serving away in the forces or at university.

Commenting on the news, Sundip Meghani, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Harborough, said: “David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s Bedroom Tax has been a disaster for the hundreds of thousands of people hit by this cruel levy – including 390 households here in Harborough – and it has come at a huge cost for taxpayers.

“The government’s own figures have shown their Discretionary Housing Payment funding has failed to cover the huge costs of the Bedroom Tax and councils have had to pick up the tab. So instead of freeing up housing and driving down costs, the Bedroom Tax has left people trapped in their homes with local authorities having to footing huge bills.”

EM pledgeChris Bryant MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for welfare Reform, echoed Sundip’s concerns; he said: “At next year’s election, the British people face a choice between a Labour government which will scrap the unfair Bedroom tax and a Tory Government who will keep this cruel and costly policy in place.”

ENDS

 

Notes

In the East Midlands 32,127 people have been hit by the Bedroom Tax. At least 3 councils have been forced to top up discretionary housing funds.

The government’s discretionary housing payment data is available here.

Bedroom Tax data is available here.

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

Since being selected as Labour PPC for Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, I have been inundated with messages of support from local residents who are fed up with Tory and Lib Dem politicians, and their failed policies. In this past week alone we have seen one calamity after another with Tory and Lib Dem politicians failing local people.

Businesses are suffering in Oadby because of policies implemented by local Tory and Lib Dem politicians. Bus services in Market Harborough are being cut as elected politicians fail to intervene. There is also a serious shortage of police cover in Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, largely the result of sustained cuts by this Tory-led government. But the situation for local residents is a lot worse.

Independent figures show that wages are on average £1,600 down in real terms since 2010 as prices and inflation continue to rise faster that pay packets. Combined with an average increase of £300 on household utility bills, hardworking people in the constituency are struggling because of the government’s cost-of-living crisis.

Living standards for the majority of people have fallen in 50 of the 51 months that David Cameron has been in Downing Street. Meanwhile this out-of-touch Tory and Lib Dem government has handed a £3billion tax break to the top 1% of earners by cutting the 50p rate. People are playing by the rules but not getting any better off.

However it need not be like this. It’s only because of the decisions of David Cameron’s government that people who work hard and play by the rules are out of pocket.

Ed Miliband has committed a future Labour government to delivering an energy price freeze and introducing a Jobs Guarantee to get a million unemployed young people back to work. Ours will be a government that stands up for the many not the few.

My local party activists and I are looking forward to getting out on the doorsteps of Harborough, Oadby and Wigston and making the case for Labour’s One Nation alternative.

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

Marking the 70th anniversary of D Day

I visited Gilroes cemetery in Beaumont Leys earlier today to pay my respects on the 70th anniversary of D Day.

Leicester’s Gilroes cemetery contains 110 Commonwealth war graves from World War I and 160 from World War II. There is also a memorial in front of the crematorium which commemorates the 31 service personnel whose remains were cremated there.

The weather today was sunny and bright and it was very peaceful. There was a funeral taking place inside. Outside, tiny squirrels were darting about, picking off petals from the many floral tributes. It was just another ordinary day at the cemetery.

Seventy years ago however it was anything but an ordinary day for our country and for many countless men and women. The Normandy landings ultimately helped the Allies rescue the continent of Europe from the grip of hatred and injustice.

Everything we have in Britain, including the freedom to choose how to live our lives, is thanks to the bravery of countless extraordinary people who came before us. We owe them a debt of gratitude we can never repay. However we can honour their memories and sacrifices by ensuring that future generations never forget.

Memorial at Gilroes cemetery in Leicester

Congratulations to the people of India

“Congratulations to Narendra Modi, incoming Prime Minister of India, and the BJP / NDA on their emphatic election victory. Congratulations also to the many British Asians, and Non-Resident Indians living in Britain, who have been actively campaigning for this election result.

It has been fascinating to observe the politics of India in recent years and particularly the 2014 general election. It is a testament to the strength of Indian democracy that the campaign has been largely peaceful and that Congress and other political parties have humbly accepted the people’s verdict.

As the people of India choose a new path for their future, I sincerely wish that the country continues to prosper, and that India remains a global beacon for hard work and innovation. I also hope that relations between the Republic of India and the United Kingdom continue to go from strength to strength.”

Cllr Sundip Meghani

The flags of the United Kingdom and Republic of India

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.

Statement regarding the proposed travellers site in Beaumont Leys

Beaumont LeysMy speech to Council can be viewed here.

“On Thursday 24 January 2013, at a meeting of the Leicester City Council, I will join my fellow Beaumont Leys Councillors in strongly opposing the City Mayor’s decision to build a 6-pitch travellers site on Greengate Lane in Beaumont Leys.

Unauthorised gypsy and traveller encampments have been causing a nuisance in Beaumont Leys for many decades. However this is a problem that has affected the whole city and there must therefore be a city-wide solution.

The planned site poses a real threat to the city’s Green Wedge, local environment, residential amenity and transport infrastructure, and travellers themselves have also voiced serious concerns.

Building a travellers site in Beaumont Leys and another larger site in nearby Abbey ward is completely unacceptable to a large number of my constituents. Consequently I will be voting AGAINST the City Mayor’s decision at Council and urging all Councillors to do the same.

I hope that the City Mayor will think again on this extremely important issue.”

Cllr Sundip Meghani

Goodbye Leicestershire Police Authority

“It’s been a real pleasure to serve on the Leicestershire Police Authority these last 18 months, together with my Labour colleagues Cllr Lynn Senior, Cllr Barbara Potter and Cllr Max Hunt. We worked hard with fellow Police Authority members to deliver an effective and efficient police service. Labour members in particular helped lead the way earlier this year in saving hundreds of police jobs.

In this era of Police and Crime Commissioners I’m confident that my Labour colleagues on the police and crime panel will do an excellent job in holding the new Commissioner to account. I’d like to thank Paul Stock, Angela Perry and all officers at the outgoing Police Authority for their hard work and for helping us to do our jobs. And I’d like to wish Chief Constable Simon Cole, Deputy Chief Constable Simon Edens, Assistant Chief Constable Steph Morgan and all the excellent officers and staff at Leicestershire Constabulary all the very best for the future.”

Cllr Sundip Meghani

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%

A bad Budget for Beaumont Leys

  • ‘Granny-tax’ will see hundreds of pensioners in Beaumont Leys paying more tax
  • Personal allowance rise is smoke and mirrors, equates to a few pounds a week
  • Child benefit cuts will leave hardworking middle-income families worse off
  • 3p fuel duty hike hits hundreds of Beaumont Leys residents who commute to work
  • 37p increase on packs of 20 cigarettes, 5p increase on the price of a pint
  • Minimum wage frozen for under 21s, no plan to create jobs for young people

Budget Response

“This is a bad Budget for ordinary hardworking people and middle-income families here in Beaumont Leys; the ward I represent on the Leicester City Council.

The population of Beaumont Leys is around 14,000 people – roughly the same as the number of millionaires around Britain who will save more than £40,000 in tax, as a result of today’s Tory / Lib Dem Budget.

By reducing the top rate of tax from 50% to 45% this Tory-led Government has cut taxes for the richest 1% in our country. With 23 millionaires in the Cabinet potentially benefitting from this reduction it is completely absurd for this Government to carry on claiming that “we are all in this together”.

Here in Beaumont Leys we have several residential homes and sheltered housing communities. By freezing personal allowances for pensioners this Tory-led Government is raising one billion pounds from the elderly to fund tax cuts for millionaires. This ‘granny-tax’ is yet another example of how the Tories are taking from the many and giving to the few.

For our many hardworking middle income families here in Beaumont Leys cuts to child benefits will leave hardworking people far worse off. And although raising personal allowances to £9,205 might sound impressive, in real terms it boils down to just a few pounds a week, which this Tory-led Government will instantly claw back by raising fuel duty later in the year.

Petrol and diesel prices are already at record levels. Here at the local Tesco garage in the Beaumont Leys shopping centre the cost of unleaded petrol currently stands at £1.359 per litre and diesel is priced at £1.429 per litre. These prices will increase by 3p in a few months’ time over and above any additional increases that Tesco decides to implement. Hundreds of Beaumont Leys residents who commute to work will be hit hard by this tax hike.

In this part of Leicester we also have some of the most deprived areas of social housing and under privileged people in the whole country. Whilst Leicester City Council continues to work hard to try to address underlying problems, this Tory-led Government has already slashed local authority funding, leaving people in Beaumont Leys and right across Leicester worse off in the months and years ahead.

Of course smoking is extremely harmful and I would actively encourage people to give it up. But for any local residents who choose to smoke in spite of the health risks, the cost of a pack of 20 cigarettes will increase by 37p this evening. The cost of a pint of beer will also go up by 5p, which is 2% above the rate of inflation.

Our young people in Beaumont Leys have also been hard hit. Not only has today’s Budget done nothing to actively create jobs for younger people, but this Tory-led Government has frozen the national minimum wage for all under 21 year olds. Workers under the age of 18 will see their minimum hourly rate fixed at £3.68 whilst the minimum hourly wage for 18 to 21 year olds remains unchanged at £4.98.

As a local Councillor for Beaumont Leys and as a local resident I am bitterly disappointed for my family and friends, and for thousands of my constituents who are being hit hard, as this Government chooses to cut taxes for millionaires.

Our pensioners are being forced to pay more, our young people are left to fend for themselves, middle-income families are being punished for working hard and motorists are being ripped off yet again. This is a bad Budget for Beaumont Leys and a bad Budget for Britain.”

Cllr Sundip Meghani

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

Statement regarding EDL protest in Leicester on 4 February 2012

“I’m proud to support Leicester Unite Against Fascism. I’m also proud to be English, having been born and raised here in Leicester.

I condemn the so-called ‘English Defence League’ and everything that they stand for. I love my country England and I refuse to be made to feel a second class citizen because I happen to have darker skin.

Racism and fascism has no place in a civilised society, and I pray that all those people involved with the EDL find the enlightenment they desperately need, in order to change their hateful ways.

We the people of Leicester are united against these EDL fascists and they are not welcome in our city.”

Cllr Sundip Meghani

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