Lack of Indian-origin Labour candidates draws criticism

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party (Photo: Rob Stothard/Getty Images).
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party (Photo: Rob Stothard/Getty Images).

THE Labour party’s failure to select enough number of British Indian candidates to contest in the upcoming general elections has attracted severe criticism.

Labour Friends of India (LFIN), the representative diaspora group of the party, on Wednesday (13) noted that the relation between the Indian community and Labour has already been strained over the perceived anti-India stance of the party on Kashmir.

The lack of appropriate representation in its candidates list is likely to make matters worse, the LFIN cautioned.

The group lobbies for closer relations between the party and south Asian country, as well as its diaspora in Britain.

The latest statement has come from the outfit ahead of the Thursday (14) deadline for the parties to finalise their nominations for the polls on December 12.

An LFIN statement said: “We express our regret that the Labour party has selected just one candidate of Indian heritage in 39 safe Labour seats, and no Indian heritage candidate in 100 target seats”.

“Furthermore, despite NEC (National Executive Committee) panels shortlisting or even selecting candidates in areas with a large Indian community such as Leicester, Ealing, Ilford, West Bromwich and Derby, no Indian-heritage candidates were selected.”

There are five Labour MPs of Indian origin who are up for re-election in the polls.

Labour’s only new Indian-origin MP is expected to be Nav Mishra.

The group has highlighted the retirement of British Indian Keith Vaz. This shows there will be zero per cent rise in the number of Indian-origin Labour MPs in the new House of Commons.

Sundip Meghani, who was in the running to contest Vaz’s seat from Leicester East, was ignored in favour of Claudia Webbe.

According to LFIN, British Indians are the largest ethnic minority group in the UK with over 1.5 million people, which accounts for 2.3 per cent of the total UK population.

The Labour party has received support from the Indian community, with over 50 per cent of the Indians residing in the UK voting Labour in 2017, according to the Runnymede Trust.