London/New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS) In an apparent move to woo the sizeable British Indian community from veering towards the Conservatives, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled a specific Race and Faith Manifesto that plans to teach students about the “historical injustice” and Britain’s role in slavery and colonialism.
The manifesto unveiled on Tuesday ahead of next month’s elections calls for a new body to oversee the legacy of colonialism and a race equality unit at the Treasury. It also contains policies on how to combat anti-Semitism in Britain.
The manifesto says the party will also force businesses to report on the pay gap faced by their black, Asian and ethnic minority employees.
Corbyn said: “Our Race and Faith Manifesto presents our unshakeable commitment to challenge the inequalities and discrimination that has faced too many communities.”
The manifesto says: “Understanding the breadth of Britain’s history is crucial to tackling the injustices and racism in our society and around the world that persist today.
“The legacies of colonialism and slavery remain evident in modern day Britain, where Black and Asian people face structural racism in the economy and are hugely underrepresented in positions of power in Britain — in politics, academia and the judiciary.
“The contribution from people around the world to British history remains insufficiently reflected in our education and culture. It is vital that future generations understand the role ethnic minority Britons have played in shaping and building the fight for equality and freedom for all.
“Around 4 million Indian (including those from modern day Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh) soldiers of Muslim, Sikh and Hindu backgrounds served in World Wars I and II, with reported deaths over the two conflicts estimated at 1,21,000. In Africa, 3 million people were pulled into the efforts of the world wars, with a recorded death toll of 1,50,000, we should honour their sacrifice.”
The manifesto says the party will “consider ways to formally recognise and commemorate the contribution by soldiers across Africa, India, China, the Middle East and Asia to the world wars.”
“We will strengthen our communities’ rights to practice their religion free from persecution. We will defend the right to wear religious and other dress and symbols of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and many others. We will protect the practices which are crucial for many, such as the production of ‘kosher’ and ‘halal’ meat,” it says.
The Conservatives said that it was “staggering” that the Labour Party has sought to “lecture people” despite facing a huge backlash over its handling of anti-Semitism claims within the party.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was “staggering” that Labour Partry “sees fit to lecture people about race and faith” and pointed to the party’s record on anti-Semitism.
Patel said Labour Party’s proposal of not charging for visa and immigration services would cost more than 1.5 billion pounds.
Tweeting the news about the Labour Party being ready to teach colonial history, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said: “So glad somebody is listening!!”
Earlier this month, the Chair of the Labour Party, Ian Lavery, had disowned Corbyn’s views on Jammu and Kashmir.
In a letter, Lavery had said that he “recognises” that the language used in the Labour Party emergency motion on September 25 had caused offence in not just sections of the Indian diaspora, but also in India.
Chalking out the “official position” of the Labour party, Lavery had said, “Kashmir is a bilateral matter for India and Pakistan to resolve together by means of a peaceful solution…”
He added that Labour Party’s official position on Kashmir remained the same as was stated by its National Policy Forum in its annual report for 2019.
Upset over the Labour Party’s perceived anti-India stance, especially over Kashmir, many among the Indian diaspora in the UK have begun openly campaigning against the Corbyn-led party, in favour of the Tories.
The Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP) in Britain has started campaigning in Hindu temples across Britain against the Labour Party.
The Indian diaspora, mainly the BJP supporters, is active on social media, campaigning for the Boris Johnson-led Conservative party in the 48 marginal seats that will go to the polls on December 12.
OFBJP UK’s President Kuldeep Singh Shekhawa has claimed that British Indians’ votes could swing up to 40 seats and affect the election.