Opposition launches Labour Indians to connect with diaspora

Describing India as a “superpower”, the Labour leader stressed that its strategic importance meant that the relationship transcends party political divides….reports Asian Lite News

Labour Party has launched a new diaspora outreach organisation to connect with British Indians and also to strengthen its interactions with India in a year when both countries are preparing for general elections.

The party’s shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, marked the launch of “Labour Indians” in the Houses of Parliament complex in London on Tuesday evening by giving an update on his recent visit to India and sharing his ambitions for the India-UK partnership if Labour were to win the next election.

Describing India as a “superpower”, the Labour leader stressed that its strategic importance meant that the relationship transcends party political divides.

“India is a superpower with a superpower entrepreneurial, innovative, scientific, industrial base and a superpower sized population,” said Lammy.

“Of course, India still has challenges. But I have no doubt that in this geopolitical moment it’s hugely important that the UK understands that India is this superpower force in the world. And, it should be the case that it actually does not matter who is the Prime Minister of India, who is the Prime Minister at Number 10 (Downing Street) because it’s so important strategically that notwithstanding political position, we have a very strong relationship,” he said.

Asked about some anti-India rhetoric associated with Labour under former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Lammy said the Opposition party had been on a journey and transformed itself under the leadership of Keir Starmer.

“It’s a journey where clearly, we look back on the Corbyn years as really very unsuccessful for our fortunes politically. I think some of the perception in the Indian community was formed by that period. My trip to India was about looking forward,” he said.

Lammy also committed the party to “finish the job” of a free trade agreement (FTA) with India, which is in its fourteenth round of negotiations kicked off by the Conservative government in January 2022 and now facing a general election deadline on both sides.

“Obviously there’s a lot of discussion about the trade agreement. It’s not my normal job to undermine the government in reaching that agreement, we want that agreement. But if the government are not successful in getting a trade deal, we do intend to finish the job and secure it. And, we also wanted to take the message across that we see the trade agreement as the floor, not the ceiling in the relationship with India because there’s a lot more we can do across all areas,” he said.

Lammy welcomed the role the new diaspora group can play in the India-UK space to bring the Labour Party closer not only to the British Indian community but also India.

“We hope to be different in the way we go about doing things. We want to be really, really inclusive,” said Krish Raval, Chair of Labour Indians.

He is supported by fellow British Indian vice-chairs, Councillor Shama Tatler and Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate from Wales Kanishka Narayan.

“Indian households had moved away from the Labour Party for various different reasons and it was hard knocking on those doors to understand why families previously strong Labour voters felt that way. We are moving in the right direction [under Starmer] but we need to be talking more to the communities who have been let down by the Conservatives,” said Tatler.

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