By Tan Dhesi
HAPPY Gurpurab to my fellow Sikhs in the UK and around the world. As we celebrate the 550th birthday of our beloved, Guru Nanak Dev ji, I’m reminded by the beautiful teachings of our faith: that before all else, we are one as human beings, and that we are equal.
Yet in these turbulent times of political chaos and disunity, we find ourselves being pitted against one another based on our differences.
In September, I stood up in parliament during Prime Minister’s Questions to speak up for Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and indeed anyone who has faced the horrific abuse that has been encouraged by the politics of division in our society. This abuse has been perpetuated by politicians like Boris Johnson, who called Muslim women “bank robbers” and “letterboxes”.
I asked him when the promised inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party would commence – he avoided the question then, and I’m still waiting for a response.
As someone who has endured namecalling my entire life, I can fully appreciate the pain that Muslim women must feel when they are targeted simply for the clothes they choose to wear – and by the prime minister, no less.
These words have real-life consequences: vulnerable Muslim women have faced an increase of hate crime as a result, and indeed, my fellow Sikhs have faced abuse following these Islamophobic remarks, due to our attire or turban.
As we know, ethnic minority communities have always been scapegoated by the far-right, and by politicians who seek to divide us, to hide the true problems of inequality plaguing our society.
Today it is more important than ever for our communities to stand together. An attack on one of us is an attack on us all. If we don’t challenge and speak up for one another, it leaves us all open to such discriminatory attacks.
Brexit has left the country divided over the past three years while the Conservatives failed over and over again on the topic, but Labour has a plan to bring people together and to give us all the final say.
We’ll bring people together by transforming the economy so it works for all of us, sharing wealth and power. Labour is the only party that when in government will undo the serious damage done to our country by nine years of a Conservative government.
When I look around, I see communities struggling, children and families having to survive off foodbanks, the disabled being stripped of their benefit payments, people suffering from in-work poverty even after working two jobs, and the NHS struggling to meet the rising demand because of the reckless cuts.
All the while, Conservative politicians provide tax handouts for the rich. It is our belief and part of our faith to uphold the rights of others in society, and that includes looking out for each other.
My colleague, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, is an incredible individual. Jeremy has campaigned for the rights of others as a politician throughout the past 30 years.
Earlier this year to mark 100 years of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, he called for a “full, clear and unequivocal apology for what took place.” This is an important gesture and would be welcomed by myself and many others in our community. What’s more, this tragedy should be taught in schools, in the hope that everyone can learn from those failings so that it never happens again.
The Sikh community have made vital contributions to this country and around the world. Our community has an important part to play in the General Election this December. We need to ensure our vote makes a difference, not just for our community but for everyone else too.
Labour has radical plans to create a fairer country that cares for the many, and not the few. Labour will end damaging Tory cuts and rebuild the public services we all rely on. And we’ll invest in our health service to ensure we have more nurses and doctors, cuts to waiting times and an end to privatisation.
You can’t trust Boris Johnson with our NHS. He plans to sell it off for parts to American conglomerates, which would be the worst decision ever made. We have a once-in-a-generation chance to transform the country. It’s time for a real change – vote Labour on December 12.
The author is Parliamentary Candidate for Slough Mosaic Initiative.