December 1, 2016 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London: Last Friday the Sikh Network, set up two years ago to develop, produce and co-ordinate delivery of the Sikh Manifesto before the 2015 General Election released the findings of the UK Sikh Survey.
As per a press release by the Sikh Federation UK, the UK Sikh Survey indicates the Sikh Federation (UK) has been successful is ensuring Sikhs register and turnout to vote in large numbers, with an estimated turnout of 82% at the last General Election compared to 56% for all BME voters.
“The survey also for the first time provides information on the extent to which the Sikh Federation (UK) has encouraged Sikhs to become members of political parties and finds Sikhs are five times more likely to become members of the mainstream political parties”, the statement (copy available with the Sikh Siyasat News) reads further.
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“Although at the 2015 General Election there were 41 minority ethnic MPs, 14 more than in the previous Parliament, there were no Sikh MPs for the first time since 1992”, notes the statement, which further reads: “[i]ronically the one Sikh MP, Paul Uppal lost his seat in Wolverhampton South West in May 2015 as the Sikh Federation (UK) successfully campaigned to have him unseated for failing to adequately represent the Sikh community on key issues and because he was a poor MP”.
“Whilst much of the public focus at the time was on Paul Uppal losing his seat to Labour’s Rob Marris the Sikh Manifesto was effectively used to also unseat other Conservative MPs in Ilford North and Brentford and Isleworth despite a national swing towards the Conservatives and away from Labour. However, the Sikh Manifesto also resulted in the Labour MP being removed in favour of the Conservative candidate in Derby North to demonstrate Sikhs took note of the relative support for the Sikh Manifesto irrespective of the political party”.
“The UK Sikh Survey however highlights political parties are failing to connect with large numbers of Sikh voters. Despite the large number of Sikhs who join political parties the survey indicates the proportion who identify with a party ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ strongly is at 35% and lower than the national average of 41% in 2015. However, the proportion who felt no identification with a political party is a staggering 39% and much higher than the national average of 15% in 2015. Overall this suggests around 10% of Sikhs associate so strongly with political parties that they chose to become members, but on the whole the political parties are struggling to get the vast majority of Sikh voters to identify with them”.
“Sikhs have no MPs in Parliament and there are only three Sikh Lords, two Conservatives and one cross-bencher. Only 1 in 9 or 11% of those responding to the UK Sikh Survey indicated that they felt the UK Parliament (Commons and Lords) effectively represented them as a Sikh, although a quarter were not sure. 77% of those responding to the UK Sikh Survey indicated their political engagement and interest would be increased if there were more Sikh MPs & Peers”.
“Over 72% of those who responded to the UK Sikh Survey believe their local MP has been either ineffective or not very effective since the May 2015 General Election on Sikh issues set out in the Sikh Manifesto”.
Commenting on findings of the UK Sikh Survey 2016, Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK): “The UK Sikh Survey provides invaluable information to the Sikh community, politicians and political parties.”
“Sikhs can be proud they are turning out in record numbers to use their right to vote and joining the mainstream political parties in large numbers. However, the survey suggests political parties and politicians are failing British Sikhs”, said he.
Bhai Amrik Singh further stated that: “Political parties are out of touch and do not appeal to many in the community especially those under the age of 50 and many individual politicians are neglecting to take up many serious issues that impact on the Sikh community.
“Politicians need to raise their game and the parties need to make sure there are also Sikh representatives in Parliament in the Commons and Lords that will make sure these issues are properly addressed.”