Gujuratis in politics Aug03

There is a large Gujarati population in Brent East and other North West London constituencies. Most Gujaratis believe in a liberal market economy based on free enterprise, law & order, family values, concern for high quality of education, health and social services. Many of the resident electors are successful businessmen, industrialists, professionals and community workers. A good number are councillors and have rendered years of service to their communities.


So why do Gujaratis vote Labour? Why do the Conservative and Liberal parties not have a fair representation of ethnic parliamentarians? Do most ethnic constituents abstain from voting? If so, why? In seats such as Brent East, there are more than 20,000 ethnic voters out of a total of 58,000. This should give the ethnic voters substantial influence in selecting a candidate of their choice and in determining the policies that can bring benefit to the area.


 Why have the major political parties not chosen Gujarati candidates to be their prospective parliamentary candidates in winnable seats for Westminster and Brussels? Why is selection for winnable seats still the prerogative of the ‘kingmakers’ in national offices of the political parties?


It is alleged that the Labour selects its candidates from its national party office whilst the Conservative Party gives substantial autonomy to its constituency associations. Whilst the Conservatives have succeeded in selecting more ethnic candidates in winnable positions for Brussels for the 2004 European elections, the Liberals have failed to select any ethnic candidate in a winnable position for Westminster and Brussels.


British political parties have not succeeded in ‘connecting’ with ethnic minorities. Many reasons have been suggested by political analysts:-

  1. They fear that a greater number of ethnic parliamentarians, including cabinet ministers, may upset many indigenous party members.

  2. The parties have failed to use effectively currently elected ethnic parliamentarians (MPs and MEPs) in establishing appropriate links with ethnic communities.

  3. It is alleged that there is discrimination in the selection process resulting in ethnic candidates gaining nominations for non-winnable seats only.

  4. There are not sufficient numbers of young men and women with appropriate academic and working backgrounds coming forward for selection.

  5. Whilst there are a number of Councillors in local government, they are either too old or not suitably qualified for parliament.


Ethnic participation in British politics can only be realised if members of the ethnic minorities take an interest in politics and vote without fail at elections. Gujaratis must join local constituency associations of political parties that offer them the best policies. They should participate in association activities, volunteer as officers and eventually put their names forward for selection as candidates for Parliament in Westminster and Brussels. They must choose prominent members in their community to represent them and young professionals and business people – both men and women – must be at the forefront of such an active campaign to be involved in politics.


Ethnic participation in British politics must be based on merit. Aspiring ethnic politicians must involve themselves fully in the activities of their local constituency associations. They must connect with and encourage all constituents, including ethnic minorities, to come out and vote at elections. They must do this by knocking on doors and getting themselves known locally. They must work and serve their community – all constituents irrespective of class, creed or religion. Only in this way can they claim to be true citizens and representatives of their area.


If sufficient people from ethnic minorities take an active part in local constituency politics and most of the others vote in local and national elections, there will be a sea change in British politics. When will these major British political parties begin to realise the potential of the ethnic vote? I hope the Conservative Party will take the lead so that success in London and beyond can reverse the majority against them in Westminster and allow them to win the next General Election!