UK Politics

No Sikhs in new Parliament

Image caption Paul Uppal was the only serving Sikh MP in the last Parliament - but lost his seat

No Sikhs have been elected to Parliament for the first time since 1992.

The only serving Sikh MP in the previous Parliament, Conservative Paul Uppal of Wolverhampton South West, lost his seat to Labour.

The Sikh Council UK, a representative body of British Sikhs, said the outcome was a "significant concern" and a "step backwards" for the community.

A total of 20 Sikh candidates (six Conservative, five Labour, five UKIP, two Liberal Democratic, one Green and one National Liberal Party) stood as parliamentary candidates - but all were unsuccessful.

Spokesman for the council, Gurinder Singh, said: "Sikhs are a community that are well settled in every geographic part of the UK and are well represented in every aspect of UK society other than as elected representatives."

Britain is home to between 600,000 and 800,000 Sikhs, with about 500,000 eligible to vote. Sikhs form part of a politically active community with an estimated two in three people voting in the 2010 general election.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Uppal said he persuaded PM David Cameron to celebrate Vaisakhi

In the tightly contested marginal seat of Wolverhampton South West, Mr Uppal lost his seat to Labour's Rob Marris by 801 votes.

Mr Uppal feels the lack of Sikh representation means it could become more difficult for the community to push forward important causes.

"It's an issue of sadness for the community as a whole.

"There were many Sikh issues I worked on. When I was newly elected, I suggested the PM celebrate Vaisakhi at 10 Downing Street to recognise the contribution of British Sikhs in this country.

"The fact that there is no Sikh MP in government is actually quite sad. We won't have a voice in the centre of power.

"You need someone from a Sikh background to convey the correct message; it's a shame that we don't have that presence."

'Not dismayed'

Mr Uppal is also concerned that the wider political establishment will suffer because of the lack of a Sikh voice in Parliament.

"With all the best will in the world, unless you have someone who genuinely has that community experience I just think the political process is the poorer for it."

Friday's election result saw a record number of ethnic minorities voted into parliament, 42 in total; but it is of great disappointment to many that none of them come from a Sikh background.

However, Harmander Singh, principal adviser to campaign group Sikhs in England, does not think the lack of representation necessarily matters,

"I do not believe that because there are no Sikh MPs that Sikhs' issues will be lost," he said.

"There are appropriate political mechanisms to get all issues examined".

He added: "I think all MPs are swayed by party issues, but on a personal basis they take all constituent issues importantly. I am not dismayed by the lack of Sikh MPs in Parliament".

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