UK’s Labour party MPs push to recall Kashmir resolution that angered India
The resolution, reiterating the party’s longstanding human-rights focused position on Jammu and Kashmir, was termed by New Delhi as “uninformed and unfounded.Updated: Oct 05, 2019 18:20 IST
Sections of the Labour party have launched a bid to ‘recall’ a resolution on Jammu and Kashmir passed at its annual conference last week, which raised hackles in the Indian community and prompted a near-boycott of the party and its MPs in recent events here.
The resolution, reiterating the party’s longstanding human-rights focused position on Jammu and Kashmir, was termed by New Delhi as “uninformed and unfounded.” Elements in the party are now exerting to assuage feelings, likely in view of the forthcoming elections.
According to senior Labour MP of Indian origin, Keith Vaz, the resolution “has been misguided and unhelpful”, adding that it was “agreed without the approval of the National Executive Committee of the Labour party, or the leader of the party, Jeremy Corbyn. It has created unnecessary distress and division within the party and the country”.
Virendra Sharma, another senior Labour MP, agrees with Vaz that the process by which the resolution was passed needs to be investigated by the NEC. Sharma, a prominent pro-India voice in British politics, is among Labour leaders facing a backlash from the Indian community for the party’s stand on Jammu and Kashmir.
Vaz said in a statement: “People have strongly-held views on Kashmir. Although many have settled in the U.K., they have friends, family and emotional links to the region. It would be wrong to allow this matter to distract from the amazing relationships they share in the towns and cities all over Britain”.
“I have therefore written to the chair of the NEC, Andi Fox, and to Corbyn, asking them to recall the motion and hold a proper debate at the NEC to adopt a common party position that does not divide our communities”, he said in a statement.
Labour MPs has been conspicuous by their absence in recent official events, including those commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary in London, amidst suggestions that the resolution was passed due to electoral compulsions.
The Hindu Forum Britain, which describes itself as a non-partisan umbrella body of Hindu organisations in the UK, said it is excluding all Labour MPs from its forthcoming annual Diwali reception in the British parliament.
It said in a statement: “The HFB believes that this resolution was uninformed and based on misinformation and its adoption is an attempt to win over votes of a certain section of the UK community”.
Labour leaders visit temples and gurdwaras across the country during elections to woo the 1.5 million strong Indian community that is increasingly influential in several constituencies, particularly in London and the Midlands.
The Labour party has been haemorrhaging support from the Indian community in recent elections. It has long been the preferred party of Indian immigrants, but large sections of the aspirational, second and third generation Indians have gravitated to the Conservatives.
The row over Labour’s resolution also links to the incidents of violence during anti-India protests outside the Indian high commission on August 15 and September 3.
Sadiq Khan, Labour’s mayor of London, who faced criticism after the incidents, wrote last week that he is “deeply upset” in an article in ‘Asian Voice’, a leading British Asian publication.
Vaz joined Khan and Corbyn in deploring the violence that led to a diplomatic row between New Delhi and London, leading to Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressing regret during a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Vaz said: “I deplore the attacks that have been made on the staff, visitors and building of the Indian High Commission in London. We live in a Parliamentary democracy and so there is freedom of expression, but this provides no excuse for damage to the sovereign territory of another country. These attacks must cease”.
“Issues of sovereignty are a matter for the Indian Government; border issues are matters for the Governments of India and Pakistan. This is a political and not a religious issue. Third-party involvement from countries, especially a former colonial power that originally caused this problem, are unhelpful and unwise.”