The Labour Party has finally come to its senses and all it took was one of the crushing defeats in its modern-history to get its act right. After Jeremy Corbyn’s mess, the party is now on a course-correction mode, looking to carefully huddle its pieces that were left broken in the suicidal campaign orchestrated by Corbyn.
The new Labour leader Kier Starmer has declared a 180-degree change in the stance of his party as he begins to repair relations with India and British Indians who had swayed to the conservatives in the general elections held last year.
The Labour Friends of India and Kier Starmer released a joint statement yesterday saying “We must not allow issues of the sub-continent to divide communities here. Any constitutional issues in India are a matter for the Indian Parliament and Kashmir is a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve peacefully. Labour is an internationalist Party and stands for the defense of human rights everywhere.”
Starmer said that he would ensure Labour did not use the dispute on the subcontinent to “divide our communities in the UK” and that a Labour government under his leadership would build “even stronger links with India, like we saw under previous Labour governments”,
The 1.5 million-strong British Indian Community, which had decisive votes in at least 40 constituencies, overwhelmingly supported the Boris Johnson led Conservative party in the elections held in November last year.
Consequently, the race to 10 Downing Street was won fair and square by Boris Johnson whereas Corbyn was left staring down the barrel when he bottled the elections with his far-left policies. Jeremy emerged as a sore loser when he tried to pin his loss on the Brexit campaign.
The then Labour leader had infuriated the Indian diaspora for taking a Pro-Pakistan stand when he brought in an emergency motion saying there was a “major humanitarian crisis taking place in Kashmir”.
His stance on Kashmir was clear in his August 2019 tweet: “The situation in Kashmir is deeply disturbing. Human rights abuses taking place are unacceptable. The rights of the Kashmiri people must be respected and UN resolutions implemented.”
The situation in Kashmir is deeply disturbing. Human rights abuses taking place are unacceptable. The rights of the Kashmiri people must be respected and UN resolutions implemented.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 11, 2019
British Indians rejected the idea that Britain has a neo-colonial role to play dictating the affairs of other nations, especially a sovereign nation like India. Ultimately, Corbyn and the Labour Party was dumped by the voters.
Unlike the Pakistani populace of Britain, the Indian community does not vote in blocs, and therefore when Corby riled the diaspora, he was snubbed and it came at the cost of losing the crucial seats which otherwise the Labours would have in its bag.
Regular jibes and accusations of anti-Semitism and sympathizing with terrorists were hurled at Corbyn’s side for his disastrous dream of creating a global ‘radical left’
It is an encouraging sign that Starmer has acknowledged the wedge that was driving British Indians away but he should also refrain from saying that Kashmir is a bilateral issue.
After the abrogation of Article 370, Kashmir is a non-issue. Period. And therefore if even a whiff of meddling in India’s internal matters comes from the colonial power hungover Labour Party, then the Indian voters will likely, steer away from it.
Rishi Sunak, Priti Patel, Alok Sharma are some of the few Indian diaspora members that hold key positions in the Boris Johnson-government, and hence it will take a lot on the part of Labour to even get a foot inside the door.
Starmer’s statement is a major step towards mending the relationship-ties with the Indian diaspora in the UK India but he should also own up to the hate campaign that was initiated last year and apologize for some of the Hindu phobic comments that were ushered.
Moreover, the Labour Party is still not unequivocal with Starmer’s change of stance. London’s vice-chair of the Labour Party, Seema Chandwani, differed from Starmer saying “he cannot meet with an unaffiliated unaccountable group of people and change the conference position on Kashmir unilaterally”.
I really hope that @NazShahBfd @Afzal4Gorton @TanDhesi speak out. You’ve been great on this and cannot feel fear now. @Keir_Starmer cannot meet with an unaffiliated unaccountable group of people and change the Conference position on Kashmir unilaterally. https://t.co/4KTqZi2bbl
— Seema Chandwani #StayAtHome (@SeemaChandwani) April 30, 2020
Whatever the outcome of the civil war inside the Labour Party be, India needs to keep its guard up and not take Labour Party for its words. After all, the Brits are famous for back-stabbing and who has more historical bragging rights on it than the Labour Party.
However, the might of Indian diaspora and the clout it enjoys in the UK has been cemented with both the parties rallying behind the community like pooches to earn its goodwill. And they say we were colonized.