London, 30 March 2015. The Sikh Manifesto was launched on 31 January at Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall and followed by launch events on 14 February at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Smethwick and 26 February in the UK Parliament. Sikhs up and down the country have in the last eight weeks been pro-actively using the Sikh Manifesto when contacting and meeting sitting MPs and candidates.
The UK Parliament has been dissolved today and an intense campaign lasting just over 5 weeks has formally started.
Actions that Sikhs will take at the local and national level in this period will be critical, but Sikhs are well placed locally and nationally with the Sikh Manifesto to make a huge impact.
In the next 48-hours the Sikh Federation (UK) will be releasing dramatic information from two pulse surveys conducted in early January and late March of the voting intentions of the Sikh community in 60 key constituencies currently held by Conservatives or Liberal Democrats that Labour hope to gain to become the largest party and form the next government.
Labour and the Conservatives will want to take note of what the results of the two pulse surveys of 1,500 Sikh voters show and reflect on next steps to influence the Sikh vote.
The Times reported on 12 March 2015 that ‘British Sikhs could hold the balance of power in the general election. There are 500,000 Sikhs who can vote in Britain and . . . Sikh votes could make or break a party.’
Bhai Amrik Singh the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: ‘The pulse survey will demonstrate both parties have it all to play for as far as the vote of the Sikh community is concerned.’
The Sikh Manifesto has already achieved so much, not least increased awareness by Sikhs, non-Sikhs and politicians across the political spectrum of Sikh demands. The Conservative-led government and opposition politicians have already taken certain positive actions and made specific pledges with the Sikh vote in mind.
These range from an announcement about the possibility of a Sikh regiment in the British army, the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Punjab and opening new offices in Chandigarh, the promise of more Sikh ethos schools, tackling grooming and forced conversions working with the Sikh community and general support from politicians of all parties for a site in central London for a permanent monument for Sikh sacrifices in the First World War.
At the weekend the Sikh Federation (UK) held a meeting of Gurdwara representatives in the North East. There was an excellent response to the Sikh Manifesto from Gurdwara representatives from Newcastle, Sunderland, Darlington, Middleborough, South Shields and Stockton on Tees.
Events are being held in Wales (Cardiff) and the South West (Bristol) next week and the North West (Manchester) the week after. An event in Scotland (Glasgow) to coincide with a meeting with the Scottish National Party leadership will also follow.
Extensive behind the scenes work over the last 18 months and increased local lobbying with the Sikh Manifesto in the last eight weeks suggests the Labour leadership will be making specific pledges to counter the early running by the Conservatives, recovering from revelations in January 2014 relating to military assistance provided by the Thatcher led government to attack the Sikhs’ holiest shrine in Amritsar in June 1984.
The Conservative leadership is also believed to be considering specific pledges raised with them last summer as they realise the importance of the Sikh vote.
There is intense speculation the Labour leadership will back the call for an independent public inquiry into UK involvement in the June 1984 Sikh Genocide.
Other issues in the Sikh Manifesto where there is expected to be movement from the two main parties before 7 May is separate ethnic monitoring of Sikhs, a statutory Code of Practice relating to the 5Ks and Sikh turban and a permanent monument on central London to highlight Sikh sacrifices in the First World War.
The only question for the two parties is when and how these announcements will be made to extract the maximum benefit.
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)