Sikh groups are looking to shape the 2015 General Election result by targeting 50 key seats as part of a major campaign in support of a ten point manifesto.
The target seats are mainly marginals (please see Notes section below) in which significant proportions of the voting population are Sikh.
Candidates in each of the constituencies are being asked to set out their position, and those of their party, on the manifesto issues.
The campaign and manifesto are being launched today (Saturday 31 January) in London by the Sikh Network and supported by the Sikh Federation (UK).
“The manifesto topics are of such importance to the British Sikh community that the response of parties and candidates to them will determine how many in the community vote,” said Bhai Amrik Singh, Sikh Federation (UK) chair.
“We are making the most of our voting clout through targeting seats and publishing a manifesto for the first time. We are looking for firm commitments from each political party on the big issues.”
This manifesto publication follows a major campaign to engage the Sikh community in its development. 10,000 delegates attended the September 2014 National Sikh Convention in Wolverhampton over three days, where the issues were debated and the manifesto content developed.
Tens of thousands of Sikhs marched in London in June 2014 to commemorate the 1984 Amritsar massacre and support calls, repeated in the manifesto, for an independent enquiry into UK Government involvement.
“For the purposes of supporting the Sikh Manifesto we have drawn a line at the 50 target seats,” added Bhai Amrik Singh.
“There are however other marginal seats, such as, Nuneaton and Manchester, Withington where the local Sikh vote although relatively small will matter. In addition, there also numerous safe seats, such as Birmingham, Selly Oak; Ealing Central & Acton; Huddersfield; Leicester South; Ealing North; Birmingham, Ladywood; East Ham and Barking that each have thousands of Sikh voters who cannot be ignored.”
The manifesto includes calls for:
- A statutory code of practice on items of the Sikh faith in order to prevent discrimination in the workplace and public spaces
- An independent inquiry into the actions of the British Government in relation to the Amritsar and Delhi massacres of 1984
- Allocation of a suitable site in central London for a permanent monument to Sikh’s who lost their lives in the First World War
- More effective Sikh representation in the Houses of Parliament
Representatives from all 250 UK Gurdwaras (temples) and UK Sikh organisations are expected to attend the manifesto launch. Party leaders, MPs and candidates from the 50 seats have also been informed of the launch. Those at the launch will hear from speakers from each of the main parties.
Party leaders have responded with messages of support for the manifesto.
Labour’s Ed Miliband said: “I think the Sikh Manifesto 2015-2020, written by the Sikh Federation UK demonstrates the commitment of British Sikhs to be actively involved with the political process, and is a great way of empowering the British Sikh community.”
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said: “The British Sikh community’s energy and devotion in campaigning to drive forward our shared values of fairness, compassion and tolerance is a priceless contribution to the modern Britain we live in today. The Sikh Manifesto 2015 – 2020 is a further example of this conscientious commitment. I warmly welcome the Sikh Federation’s ambition to encourage the British Sikh community to engage with politics at all levels and I congratulate the Federation for all the hard work it has already done to increase the awareness and importance of social and political activism within the British Sikh community.”
A message of support from the Prime Minister, David Cameron is expected on the eve of the launch.
Notes to editors
The British Sikh community will be launching the Sikh Manifesto 2015-2020 at Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Havelock Road, Southall, the largest Gurdwara (temple) in the UK, between 11.30am and 1.30pm on Saturday 31 January.
This will be followed by an event at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, High Street, Smethwick, the second oldest Gurdwara in the UK, on Saturday 14 February between 1-3pm and concluding with an event in the Attlee Suite in Portcullis House on Thursday 26 February between 3-5pm.
The target seats:
|1.||*Wolverhampton South West (Con)||691|
|2.||Brentford & Isleworth (Con)||1,958|
|3.||North Warwickshire (Con)||54|
|5.||Derby North (Lab)||613|
|6.||Walsall North (Lab)||990|
|7.||Walsall South (Lab)||1,755|
|8.||Bradford East (LD)||365|
|9.||Warwick & Leamington (Con)||1,513|
|10.||Birmingham, Edgbaston (Lab)||1,274|
|11.||Dudley North (Lab)||649|
|12.||Feltham & Heston (Lab)||4,658|
|15.||Wolverhampton North East (Lab)||2,484|
|16.||Ealing, Southall (Lab)||9,294|
|19.||Southampton, Itchen (Lab)||192|
|20.||Stockton South (Con)||332|
|22.||Hampstead & Kilburn (Lab)||42|
|23.||Wolverhampton South East (Lab)||6,593|
|24.||West Bromwich East (Lab)||6,696|
|26.||Coventry South (Lab)||3,845|
|27.||Cardiff North (Con)||194|
|28.||Hayes & Harlington (Lab)||10,824|
|31.||Ilford South (Lab)||11,287|
|32.||Derby South (Lab)||6,122|
|33.||West Bromwich West (Lab)||5,651|
|35.||Nottingham South (Lab)||1,722|
|36.||Leeds North East (Lab)||4,545|
|37.||Southampton, Test (Lab)||2,413|
|38.||Ilford North (Con)||5,404|
|39.||Birmingham, Perry Barr (Lab)||11,908|
|40.||Norwich South (LD)||310|
|41.||Coventry North West (Lab)||6,288|
|42.||Birmingham, Yardley (LD)||3,002|
|45.||Coventry North East (Lab)||11,775|
|46.||Leicester East (Lab)||14,082|
|47.||Harrow West (Lab)||3,143|
|48.||Erith & Thamesmead (Lab)||5,703|
|49.||Leicester West (Lab)||4,017|
|50.||Luton South (Lab)||2,329|
In Wolverhampton South West, for example, Paul Uppal has a majority of 691 and there are around 6,000 Sikh voters.