By: Chandrashekar Bhat
Labour leader Keir Starmer and London mayor Sadiq Khan have reaffirmed the party’s commitment to diversity while highlighting the contribution of south Asians to the UK’s growth.
At a fundraising gala dinner hosted by Labour in London on Wednesday (1), they said inclusiveness made Britain a strong country where aspiration was rewarded.
Starmer emphasised the “growing” role millions of people with South Asian roots in shaping Britain, “expanding our economy, strengthening our society, defining our culture.”
“Your creativity, your innovation, the contribution you made to our economy and public services, have become such a huge part of the British story”, he told the gathering where more than 300 business leaders and party supporters were in attendance.
He also said British Asians should get greater political representation.
“We’ve got a record number of South Asian MPs in the polls, a record number. And now we’ve got a huge number of south Asian candidates – Sikh candidates, Hindu candidates, (and) Muslim candidates. But we need more. Labour must always look like the communities it represents,” he said.
Making up close to seven per cent of the population, British Asians play a crucial role in the electoral fortunes of parties in the UK, particularly in England’s Midlands.
In the 2019 general election, 30 contestants having their roots in India or Pakistan were elected to the Commons. They included Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the Conservative party.
“My Labour Party will build a new Britain, a country where aspiration is rewarded, where working people succeed, and where the contribution of Britain’s South Asian communities are front and centre of our national story,” said the Labour leader whose party is widely predicted to win the next general election.
Khan, the two-time mayor of London who will be the Labour nominee for the role for a record third time, said immigration into the UK made the country “richer, not poorer”.
“Our capital and our country have undoubtedly become stronger, more dynamic, and more successful, thanks to the efforts and enterprising spirit of the South Asian diaspora,” Khan, whose parents migrated to the UK from Pakistan, said.
“Today, Asian businesses generate tens of billions of pounds for our economy, and help to create jobs, opportunities, and wealth in every borough of our capital city and every corner of our country”, he said.
Shadow cabinet members including Rachel Reeves and Angela Rayner attended the event where Tamils for Labour and Labour Friends of Bangladesh were also represented.