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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightArticlechevron_rightThe Indianisation of...

The Indianisation of UK politics

The Indianisation of UK politics

Indian-origin British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak speaking in parliament (file photo)

British Indian Rishi Sunak is probably going to be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The Conservative Party had almost no non-white politicians until 2001. But that has changed. When David Cameron became leader of the Conservatives in 2005, he announced a new A-List of candidates. At least 10% had to be ethnic minority. This has greatly increased the number of ethnic minority Conservative MPs.

Suella Braverman (nee Fernandes) is the Attorney-General. Mrs Fernandes was born in London to parents of Indian stock. She has announced that she is seeking to be leader of the Conservative (Tory) Party. She is seen as unlikely to win.

Shailesh Vara was active in the Tory Party from the 1980s. The party was not perceived as welcoming by non-whites back then. He was born in Uganda to an Indian family and came to the UK in the 1970s. He qualified as a solicitor when there were very few non-white lawyers. Mrs Thatcher campaigned for him when he stood for Parliament in Northampton in 2001. He did not defeat Labour that time. But he won the seat in 2005. Mr Vara was made a junior minister in the Northern Ireland Office. He was made vice chairman of the Conservative Party but was demoted from his ministry. It had been assumed that his ministerial career was over. He had been passed over for promotion a few times. However, in July 2022 he was made Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Therefore, he has finally been appointed to the cabinet.

Priti Patel the Home Secretary was born in the UK to an Indian family. However, she does not associate herself with the UK Indian community.

There is another prominent Briton of South Asian stock who is seeking the British premiership. He is Sajid Javid. Mr Javid is a British Pakistani. He was formerly Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister).

The Labour Party was the traditional political home of British Indians. However, as the community experienced embourgeoisement, its members were drifting over to the Tories. Nevertheless, Labour has plenty of politicians of Indian ancestry. Lisa Nandy stood for the Labour leadership and narrowly lost out. Miss Nandy is half Indian and half white.

The minor British parties such as the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats also have some politicians of Indian descent.

Another European country has had a Prime Minister of Indian blood. The Republic of Ireland had Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach (Prime Minister). Dr Varadkar was born in Dublin to an Irish mother and Indian father. Varadkar is also the first openly gay PM of any European country. His boyfriend is another physician. Varadkar is now Deputy Prime Minister. He gave the premiership to another party as part of a coalition deal.

There have been part Indian politicians in the UK for over 200 years. Lord Liverpool was PM 1812-27. The second longest serving PM in British History was an eighth Indian.

The UK is only 5% ethnically Indian. But this is growing rapidly. The average age of a British Indian is 25 whereas the average age of the whole UK population is 40. More Indians are immigrating to the UK. Indians in the UK tend to have more children than average.

All this could change the relationship between the two countries. The United Kingdom could become more pro-Indian in foreign policy. London might apologise for the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. The United Kingdom might choose to pay reparations to India.

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TAGS:Indian-origin UK politiciansRishi Sunak Priti PatelSuella BravermanDavid Cameron A-List
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