April 17, 2015 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London, UK: Many Sikhs are saying Labour has taken the Sikh vote for granted for far too long and the Labour leadership is holding back in making promises. With 20 days left over half of Sikh voters remain undecided in who they will back.
The above message is what is coming back loud and clear from dozens of meetings Sikhs have been holding up and down the country with prospective parliamentary candidates using the Sikh Manifesto.
Generally Labour candidates have welcomed the Sikh Manifesto and indicated their support for many of the issues, but the Labour leadership has still to declare its full hand.
According to a Theos think tank report Sikh support for Conservatives doubled from 10 to 20% between 2005 and 2010. 36% of Hindus voted Conservative in 2010. For the first time ever more Hindus are expected to vote Conservative than Labour in 2015. Theos is a think tank working in the area of religion, politics and society.
A Sikh Federation (UK) spokesman said:
‘If Labour want to form the next government they need to stop the trend of more Sikhs supporting the Conservatives in 2015.’
‘Labour can no longer rely on the majority of the Hindu vote that is expected to increase again for the Conservatives. Leading Conservative Hindus are using the blame game within the Hindu community regarding the introduction of anti-caste legislation to attack Labour.’
‘The way the Conservatives handled the 1984 revelations in January 2014 seriously damaged their prospects to increase the share of the Sikh vote. However, the Labour leadership has remained silent for too long on this issue and sat on the fence. Labour has yet to capitalise on this by giving a specific unconditional commitment for an independent public inquiry.’
The Labour leader when challenged last week by Sikh media promised a Labour-led government would look into this further, but this may proof too little too late to gain Sikh support.
Meanwhile the Conservatives have been playing it clever by trying to avoid the 1984 issue, delivering a more appealing message to Sikhs and focusing on issues such as the possibility of a Sikh regiment and more Sikh ethos schools under the free schools policy.
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