November 25, 2019 | By Harnek Singh
by: Harnek Singh*
“Millions of Sikhs across the world have in the last few weeks marked Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th Parkash, the birth anniversary of the founder and first Sikh Guru. He rejected all forms of discrimination and exploitation under any pretext and founded a new egalitarian social order. Equality for women, rejection of the caste system, respect for diversity while seeing God in all.”
These are the opening words of the Sikh Manifesto 2020-2025 that has been developed by Sikh activists while living out what Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught us about achieving a fair, just and thriving society for all.
The Sikh Manifesto sets out critical issues raised by members of the British Sikh community that will help raise awareness with political parties and those hoping to be elected MPs on 12 December 2019. It is an invaluable reference document that will be used not only in the next few weeks, but over the next five years to monitor progress and judge the performance of MPs and the next UK Government.
The Sikh Manifesto is about empowering the UK Sikh community to engage with the UK political system. The Sikh Network will continue to monitor progress against the Sikh Manifesto over the next five years and discuss and agree changes in strategy and approach to help deliver against the issues set out. The Sikh Federation (UK) will lead on lobbying and engagement with the mainstream media and government on many of these issues. The Sikh Manifesto will test the commitment of the main political parties and individual politicians to the British Sikh community.
The ten-point Sikh Manifesto is unlike the manifestos of the political parties. All Sikh organisations can relate to all or part of the Sikh Manifesto as a briefing document. It is based on the widest possible consensus and collates the most important areas in which challenges remain for British Sikhs and where progress is required.
The first Sikh Manifesto 2015-2020 was widely viewed as a crucial development reflecting the political maturity of British Sikhs. This second Sikh Manifesto demonstrates a broadening of our reach, in terms of the influencing and lobbying of those in power and a deepening of our roots, in terms of coverage of the grassroot issues of importance to Sikhs.
Much progress has been achieved since the publication of the first Sikh Manifesto. The manifesto reflects issues of importance to the Sikh community that politicians need to understand and act upon.
Three new sections have been introduced in the refreshed Sikh Manifesto – Sections 4, 6 and 7 that expose hate crime, discrimination and human rights violations. Seven of the ten sections in the first Sikh Manifesto have been refreshed to reflect developments in the last five years and continue to be priorities to achieve or work towards.
Individual Sikhs, Gurdwara management committees and Sikh organisation representatives are encouraged to read and understand the Sikh Manifesto. The aim should be to discuss each of the sections directly with their Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) from each of the main political parties.
PPCs are being asked to confirm in writing, public statements and video messages on social media their commitment to support the Sikh Manifesto in general and specific sections if they wish to secure Sikh votes. This will allow progress to be discussed and tracked with those elected as MPs.
The Electoral Commission has highlighted that Sikhs participate in the British voting process more than most other communities. However, to make the Sikh vote count Sikh voters are being encouraged to bear in mind the prior commitment of the party or the candidate to the issues and concerns raised by the Sikh community through the Sikh Manifesto.
150 constituencies that have 1,000 or more Sikh constituents have been pinpointed. Those elected in these constituencies are expected to ensure all issues important to the British Sikh community, as set out in this Sikh Manifesto, are raised and acted upon. A balanced scorecard has been developed and will be used to objectively judge the performance of MPs elected in each of these constituencies.