The Labour party is revamping its strategies to engage with British Indians, due to worries that the party’s backing among the largest ethnic group in the country has declined in recent times.
The Labour party, led by Keir Starmer, has implemented various initiatives to rebuild ties with the British Indian population. These include the recruitment of two outreach volunteers, restructuring the Labour Friends of India organization, and arranging a visit to India for two prominent shadow ministers.
Recent data suggests that the Labour party has experienced a decline in support from individuals of Indian heritage. According to a survey obtained by the Guardian, in 2010, 61% of British Indians declared their support for Labour, but by 2019, that number had decreased by half to 30%.
According to a member of the party, it has been a long-standing mistake to assume the support of Indian voters. However, it is now evident that they are turning to other options and the party must take action to address this issue.
A representative for the party stated that the Labour party, under Keir Starmer’s leadership, is once again dedicated to serving the needs of working individuals and is actively reaching out to people of various backgrounds and beliefs, including those from the Indian community.
Party supporters are implementing various actions such as creating a fresh organization named Labour Indians to coordinate community gatherings and direct messages towards British Indians on social media.
The chair of the group, Krish Raval, stated that their main objective is to organize events and spread information through social media in order to reach a wide range of stakeholders and secure a win for the Labour party.
Two individuals have been selected to assist the team, and a portion of their responsibilities will involve educating Labour candidates running for parliament on matters relevant to India.
On Sunday the shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, and the shadow business secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, will travel to Delhi and Mumbai on a five-day trip also designed to demonstrate the party is not hostile to Indian interests.
The UK is home to the second largest population of Indian immigrants and the largest minority ethnic group.
For many years, approximately two-thirds of British Indians have shown their support for the Labour party, consistent with other minority ethnic communities.
However, this trend has seen a significant decline in recent years. According to a recent survey conducted by the think tank UK in a Changing Europe, only 30% of voters chose the opposition party in 2019, while the number of those who voted for the Conservative party was only slightly higher at 24%.
According to experts, the change has occurred due to both socioeconomic and religious factors.
The survey data indicates that as British Indians have experienced an increase in wealth, their beliefs have shifted towards conservatism. Additionally, the growing influence of the Hindu nationalist party, Bharatiya Janata (BJP), in India has contributed to a stronger conservative stance among the Indian community in the UK.
According to the UK in a Changing Europe survey, the majority of Hindu voters in the 2019 election backed the Tories, while this was not the trend for Muslim, Sikh, or Buddhist voters.
Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party further intensified these ongoing patterns, as he openly expressed his backing for an autonomous Kashmir – a stance that is widely opposed by Indian Hindus. In the year 2019, members of the BJP actively worked to promote the Conservative Party in 40 constituencies throughout the UK, leading to allegations of interference by the Indian government in British politics.
Prominent members of the Labour party express concern that the potential appointment of Rishi Sunak as the UK’s first Hindu prime minister could contribute to a growing trend.
Last year, the consultancy Public First conducted focus groups with first, second, and third-generation Indians. The results revealed the issue that Labour is currently facing.
A participant noted that Sunak’s stance demonstrated a shift in favor of British Indians, while another remarked on the positive inclusion of the Indian community in the customs of 10 Downing Street.
According to James Frayne, one of the co-founders of Public First, their research revealed that certain groups have a more favorable view of Rishi Sunak compared to the average swing voter group, which is mostly made up of white British individuals.