A lack of Sikhs in Parliament is bad for representation

If the last election heralded a rising number of women (by almost a third) and minority-ethnic representation; a footnote to the election is that Parliament will hold no elected Sikhs for the first time since 1992.

The only serving Sikh MP in the previous Parliament, Conservative Paul Uppal, lost his seat to Labour’s Rob Marris in Wolverhampton South West by 801 votes.

Now a representative body for British Sikhs, The Sikh Council UK highlighted a “significant concern” for the community.

A total of 20 Sikh candidates stood in the previous election (six Conservative, five Labour, five UKIP, two Liberal Democratic, one Green and one National Liberal Party) – but none were elected.

Sikhs are politically active community with an estimated two in three people voting in the 2010 general election. With an estimated 600-800,000 Sikhs in Britain (and roughly 500,000 eligible to vote) this lack of representation is problematic.

Representation matters across all levels of society – without a sense of accurate representation, how will some feel their voice matters? As Mr Uppal told the BBC: “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.”

Other Sikh groups did not see an issue as others highlighted political commitments to a “Sikh Manifesto”.

Gurinder Singh, spokesperson for The Sikh Council UK highlighted how some in Sikh communities are shifting their vote away from a traditional Labour vote: “Out of all the BME communities, research shows that the Sikh and Hindu communities are moving away from the Labour Party at a slightly higher rate than other communities at successive elections with the trend likely to have continued this time too.”

A poll of 1,000 Sikhs prior to election found 40 per cent of Sikhs were undecided voters. If Labour continues to haemorrhage minority-ethnic votes, some will turn to other parties in the hope of political representation.

No Sikhs in parliament is bad for the nation’s political diversity.