After a humiliating defeat in the recent elections in Britain against the conservatives, the Labour party in the United Kingdom seems to be in a path of course correction as party’s leadership has now declared a significant change in its Kashmir stance.
Labour party leader Keir Starmer, in a major policy change, has declared that his party intends to repair relations with India and British Indians, saying it will not meddle in Kashmir or in any of India’s constitutional affairs.
In a joint statement released by Labour Friends of India and Sir Kier Starmer on April 30, the new leader of the Labour Party declared that Kashmir is a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan.
“We must not allow issues of the sub-continent to divide communities here. Any constitutional issues in India are a matter for the Indian Parliament and Kashmir is a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve peacefully. Labour is an internationalist Party and stands for the defence of human rights everywhere,” the statement said.
“Britons of Indian-origin contribute so much to the UK and to the Labour Party. I’m committed to working closely with Labour Friends of India to rebuild trust with the community,” Starmer added.
Starmer, in the joint statement also said that a Labour government under his leadership will be determined to build even stronger business links with India and to co-operate on the global stage on issues such as climate change.
“I look forward to meeting the Indian High Commissioner in due course to open a renewed dialogue between the Labour Party and the people of India,” Starmer said.
Anti-India stand by Labour party
The Labour Party’s stand on Kashmir has been extremely controversial which has upset many pro-Indian voices in the country. Led by controversial leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party has often taken an anti-India stance and has also extended its support to various propaganda pushed by pro-Pakistan elements in the United Kingdom.
The Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn on September 25 last year, in its party conference in Brighton, had passed a resolution that supports “International intervention in Kashmir and a call for UN-led referendum.’ The motion was submitted by UK Labour’s British Pakistani politician Uzma Rasool.
The resolution passed by the Labour party had asked Corbyn to meet the high commissioners of both India and Pakistan to ensure there is “mediation” and restoration of peace and normality to prevent a potential nuclear conflict.
Indian Foreign Ministry had even taken notice of the resolution and had immediately condemned it, calling it ‘pandering of vote bank interests’ by Labours politicians from Pakistani-Muslim dominated regions.
The Labour party’s stand on Kashmir was contrary to India’s position on Kashmir. India has categorically told the international community that its move on Kashmir was an internal matter. India has always maintained that any dialogues with Pakistan will be bilateral only.
Not just that, a number of Labour Party members and even MPs were found participating in anti-India marches organised by Pakistani-sponsored British groups. On two occasions, such marches had also attacked the Indian High Commission building in London, drawing sharp criticism from the Indian government.
Even Pakistan sponsored terror organisation such as JKLF had released a statement extending its support to the UK Labour party ahead of the December 12 elections in the country, indicating how Labour party was hand-in-hand with pro-Pakistan voices in the UK.
Indian diaspora’s campaign against Labour party
Following the anti-India stand of the Labour party, the Indian diaspora had campaigned against the Labour Party in the recently held elections in the United Kingdom. After massive outrage by the Indian diaspora and over fears of losing British-Indian votes, Jeremy Corbyn’s labour party had later backtracked on its resolution.
In a complete turnaround, the Labour Party’s chairperson, Ian Lavery, has called Kashmir a ‘bilateral issue’ soon after and had said that it should be resolved by India and Pakistan.
With Labour Party taking an anti-India stand, the Indian diaspora had supported the conservatives leading to Labour party’s humiliating defeat in December 12 elections last year.
India dealing with the west from the position of strength
The course correction from the Labour Party in the UK comes as a major step towards mending the relationship with the Indian diaspora in the UK after the past leadership under Jeremy Corbyn had upset the Indian government and its diaspora in the UK by taking an anti-India stand.
The backtracking by the Labour party with regards to Kashmir issue is the testimony to the growing might and political clout of the Indians and its diaspora across the west, especially in the United Kingdom. This is also a testimony of how India can do business with the first world countries without seeking validation from them.