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Rob Marris becomes chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs

July 2, 2015 | By

London, UK: In May Rob Marris was returned as the MP for Wolverhampton South West. His victory for Labour bucked the national trend and it has been widely acknowledged it was down to the public support and campaign from local activists of the Sikh Federation (UK).

The local Sikh community rejected Paul Uppal, despite attempts by him to show on the eve of the election he had some Sikh support. In the eyes of many Sikhs he had proved a huge disappointment as the one and only Sikh MP, especially for lacking the courage to take up any human rights issues on behalf of Sikhs that would result in criticism of India. Sikhs across the UK also recognised how much of a loss it had been in the last five years not to have Rob Marris leading on Sikh issues as Chair of the APPG.

Rob Marris

Rob Marris

Soon after Rob Marris’s victory a most telling remark was made by a senior Indian High Commission official in London who summed up the situation when he said: ‘We have lost a good friend in Paul Uppal and are not looking forward to dealing with the challenges that will be presented by Rob Marris.’ To British Sikhs this statement from the Indian authorities is like an endorsement for the credentials of Rob Marris and a vote of no confidence in the credentials of Paul Uppal.

The APPG for British Sikhs held its AGM on 30 June and Rob Marris having returned to Parliament once again became the Chair of the APPG replacing Fabian Hamilton. Chris White the Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington and Emma Reynolds, the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government agreed to become Vice Chairs of the APPG.

The APPG was established 10 years ago by the Sikh Federation (UK) and Bhai Amrik Singh, its Chair, said:

‘We were delighted to see Rob back not only as an MP, but Chairing the APPG. We shared proposals with the APPG in May and are pleased many of these have been adopted at the AGM.’

The APPG agreed that its priority would be three items in the Sikh Manifesto:

  • Separate ethnic monitoring of Sikhs and a separate ethnic tick box for Sikhs in the Census 2021 (Section 2)
  • The allocation of a suitable site in central London for a permanent monument to highlight Sikh sacrifices in the First World War (Section 6)
  • Exerting pressure on France (and Belgium) to stop discrimination against turban wearing Sikhs (Section 7)

Sikh Federation UK’s Chairman S. Amrik Singh Gill said: ‘The APPG agreed to hold an annual celebration of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Gurpurb in the House of Commons in late November. This will be a unique opportunity to celebrate what the Sikh faith offers to the world and will be directly supported by the Sikh Federation (UK) and five of our largest Gurdwaras as well as the annual celebration of Vaisakhi in the House of Commons in April.’

‘It has not been lost on Rob as to which individuals and Sikh organisations campaigned against him or were used by his opponent prior to the General Election’, he added.

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