Sectarian Politics: Conservative MPs Sign ‘Hindu Manifesto’ in Run-Up to General Election

Theresa Villiers / Facebook

A group of Conservative politicians have signed a “Hindu Manifesto” document calling for new “hate crime” rules and “streamlining immigration policy.”

Several Conservative Members of Parliament have endorsed a Hindu Manifesto demanding candidates commit to it in return for political support from the country’s one million Hindus at election time. The document comes amid warnings of the dangers of rising sectarianism by campaigners including Reform UK leader Nigel Farage.

The manifesto from Hindus for Democracy UK calls for “anti-Hindu hate” including “microaggressions” to be recognised as a “hate crime” and requires signatories to promise they will seek to ban groups including Sikhs For Justice, a U.S. advocacy group for the creation of an independent Sikh nation of Khalistan carved out of India. It cites attacks by Islamists against Hindu temples in the UK and calls for the UK government to fund security schemes for Hindu religious buildings.

On Britain’s relationship with India itself, the manifesto calls for “streamlining immigration policy” to fast-track visas for Hindu priests to the UK and to facilitate Indian migrants bringing over their families after they’ve arrived. India itself as the homeland for Hinduism has a special spiritual importance for British Hindus which “underscores deep-seated cultural and religious ties” that should be understood and respected, the manifesto asserted.

More esoteric demands include a call to open more grammar schools – because Hindus excel in academia, they say, and there are not enough places at these highly selective schools to meet demand – and to erect a specific war memorial for Hindu soldiers who served in the British Empire’s armed forces.

An article by British broadcaster GB News builds upon earlier reporting on the Hindu Manifesto by the Times of India, the world’s largest-circulation English-language newspaper. The reports claims several Conservative Members of Parliament seeking re-election endorsed the paper, naming Bob Blackman, Robert Buckland, Laura Farris, and Theresa Villiers.

Hindus for Democracy claim 16 backers, mostly Conservatives, who are candidates in next month’s General Election.

Blackman is a senior Tory who sits on the 1922 committee, the Party’s internal organisational body which has a key role in choosing the Party leader. Buckland is a former 1922 committee member and former Lord Chancellor. Tory veteran Theresa Villiers has been a Member of Parliament for going on 20 years and has held a series of government posts.

The Critic in their review of the manifesto compares the vision for Britain outlined in the document to religious autonomy in the Ottoman Empire and says that Tory Bob Blackman “spends much of his time hobnobbing with Hindu nationalist politicians in an effort to appease the nearly 30 per cent of his constituents who identify as Hindu”. It further points out other religious manifestos for this election have been issued by groups representing the Muslim, Jewish, and Sikh communities in Britain.

I’m backing the #HinduManifesto2024. As MP for Barnet, I have supported the British Indian community and spoken up for…

Posted by Theresa Villiers on Monday, June 10, 2024

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has described himself as a faithful Hindu and has spoken of his faith during the general election campaign, but does not appear to have any involvement in the Hindus for Democracy manifesto initiative. GB News noted some questions raised over the wisdom of getting involved in the manifesto by some Conservative figures, albeit relatively minor ones.

The National Secular Society also raised concerns, noting “misogyny and caste discrimination” in the Indian community are also important targets for reform and claiming some Hindu groups that backed the launch of the manifesto have been “highly vocal” in opposing outlawing caste discrimination in Britain:

There are an estimated 50,000 – 200,000 people in the UK who are regarded by some as ‘low caste’ and at risk of caste discrimination. There is evidence of caste-based discrimination and harassment present in employment, education and in the provision of services.

The law already protects Hindus, and all other people in the UK, from discrimination and hate crime based on religion or belief. But there is no specific protection in either equality law or hate crime law against caste discrimination or persecution.

These developments follow a period of controversy in the British election campaign after Brexit leader Nigel Farage warned about the looming danger of sectarianism, primacy of religion in politics, in the United Kingdom. This issue has become particularly prominent after the Hamas terror strike against Israel in 2023 and with veteran British left-wing populist George Galloway winning a parliamentary election by indulging Muslim anger over Israel. Other candidates appear to be trying the same in the present election.

Mr Farage said of Labour “begging” Muslims for votes: “You might have noticed that Angela Rayner yesterday was campaigning in her constituency begging, begging! A group of Muslim leaders to please vote Labour. You’ll have noticed not a single woman in the room. So we’re moving into an age, in our inner cities and towns, I’m afraid and worried to say, of sectarian politics with women completely excluded.”


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