UK Polls Set To Deliver More Diverse Parliament, Many British Indian MPs

The UK general election is expected to deliver the most diverse Parliament in the country’s history, including in the number of parliamentarians of Indian heritage likely to be elected from across the nation.

According to an analysis by the British Future think tank, the Labour Party is set to have by far the largest number of ethnic minority MPs if the party wins an overall majority and even more in a landslide scenario.

With around 14 per cent of MPs coming from an ethnic minority background this time, the analysis finds that the new Parliament will be closer than ever to reflecting the diversity of the British electorate.

“This election will see the biggest rise in ethnic minority representation and the most diverse Parliament ever,” said Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future.

“In the space of 40 years, we’ll have gone from zero to one in seven MPs being from an ethnic minority background. Britain is closing the gap between the diversity of Parliament and the electorate much faster than anyone thought possible,” he said.

The last general election in 2019 resulted in 15 MPs of Indian heritage crossing over the line, many of whom are contesting again alongside several first-timers.

Conservative Party MP Alok Sharma and Labour veteran Virendra Sharma are among the most high-profile British Indians not seeking re-election this time, from Reading West and Ealing Southall, respectively.

The latter constituency, with a large Punjabi electorate, has two British Sikh candidates contesting as Independents – Sangeet Kaur Bhail and Jaginder Singh.

Some of the key British Indian candidates to watch in Thursday’s polls include Praful Nargund, who is contesting for the Labour Party in Islington North – the seat of the party’s now-suspended former leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is contesting as an Independent candidate.

Jas Athwal is contesting in another Labour stronghold of Iford South, while Baggy Shanker in Derby South, Satvir Kaur in Southampton Test, and Harpreet Uppal in Huddersfield are contesting more marginal seats for the party.

Rajesh Agrawal, the Indore-born former Deputy Mayor of London for Business, is fighting to become a first-time MP from Leicester East and is up against a fellow British Indian Conservative candidate, Shivani Raja.

This constituency, representing a large Indian heritage electorate, will be keenly watched as its former long-term Goan-origin MP, Keith Vaz, is also in the race.

British-Indian Sikhs, including solicitor Warinder Juss from Wolverhampton West in central England and Gurinder Singh Josan from Smethwick, will be hoping to make gains for Labour, as will Bihar-born Kanishka Narayan contesting in Vale of Glamorgan – hoping to be elected as the first Indian-origin MP from Wales, and Sonia Kumar hoping to overturn a Tory majority in Dudley.

For the Conservative Party, Chandra Kanneganti in Stoke-on-Trent Central and Ameet Jogia in Hendon are facing a tough fight in a race consistently forecast in favour of the Opposition Labour Party.

“A diverse parliament brings different perspectives to its work, which can lead to more effective policy-making. MPs who come from different backgrounds can be role models for their communities, inspiring young people to vote and get involved in politics,” says Jill Rutter, British Future Associate Fellow who led the think tank’s analysis.

Of the sitting MPs, the British Indians most vulnerable to a Labour swing in the election include Tory MPs Shailesh Vara from North West Cambridgeshire, Gagan Mohindra from South West Hertfordshire and Claire Coutinho from East Surrey.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to hold on to his seat of Richmond and Northallerton in northern England, as are former Cabinet colleagues Priti Patel in Witham in Essex and Suella Braverman in Fareham and Waterlooville.

With a series of retirements and exits, largely from the incumbent Tories, the new Parliament elected on Friday will see around 158 new MPs in the House of Commons.
 

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