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    More Ealing Southall fun and games

    by Sunny on 13th July, 2007 at 10:05 am    

    I was at the Gurudwara yesterday morning in Park Avenue, Southall, and Cllr Gurcharan Singh, who recently defected to the Tories, randomly turned up. It wasn’t the time for him to solicit votes so he left not long after. Earlier in the day the Tory candidate Tony Lit had also been there to get the Gurudwara’s backing. Today the Times reports that two more councillors (from surrounding areas) have defected to the Tories. Does this mean Lit is close to victory?

    Ermm, probably not.

    1) The two new councillors count for little since defections always take place during election season. The Conservatives had never really seen Ealing Southall as a target seat in the past so it’s unsurprising that a few crumbs from David Cameron enticed a few opportunists to jump ship. It does however create media momentum and a buzz about the election, which works in their favour. It’s very debatable whether this will translate to extra votes.

    The Sikh vote is seen as crucial to this by-election, leading some election-watchers to make bad assumptions. The two major Gurudwaras in Southall (Havelock road & Park Avenue) have come out in favour of the Labour candidate Virendra Sharma for various reasons, despite his Hindu background. When he was Ealing mayor earlier, he had then formed a close relationship with the Gurudwara committee and helped them on occasion (I’m told). So they like him.

    2) I said earlier that the Conservatives had made a mistake by getting Gurcharan Singh to defect to them because he brought his divisive factionalism and Khalistani politics with him. It was actually better for Labour that he left.

    Ministry of Truth has just posted a letter issued by the Gurudwara committee earlier this year when a demonstration, organised in light of the riots in Punjab, in which Gurcharan Singh had a hand, disrupted normal proceedings.

    One of the apparent organisers of the demonstration, a Mr Gurcharan Singh, had come and met a representative of the executive committee on the 18th of May and advised us that the demonstration would be a peaceful one.

    However, subsequent events, which I will now detail, showed that this was a pre-planned politically motivated attempt at character assassination as well as an attempt to destabilise the Sabha.

    Uh oh. In other words Gurcharan Singh’s crew tried to character-assassinate the head of the Gurudwara committee in Southall. Does Tony Lit know that one of his newest councillors is hated by the very committee that overlooks the two main Gurudwaras in Southall? Someone should get on the phone, quick.

    3) Yesterday afternoon, while listening to the ardaas (like an address to the congregation), the announcer seems to have endorsed Virendra Sharma (my ears perked up too late unfortunately). I doubt it will have much effect on local voting but if the Tories think that their candidate’s religion is going to play better against Sharma, then they’re in for a rude shock.

    Just because a few hardcore activists on Sikh websites and elsewhere are claiming they won’t vote for Sharma because he is a Hindu (which, of course, should be the last criteria), doesn’t mean much. Most voters won’t see everything through their narrow political/religious prism.


    In many ways this election is a win-win for Labour. If they lose now, they get rid of Sharma and inject some new blood into the area and reclaim the seat at the General Election (when boundary changes make it much easier for them). If they win, then they win I guess.

    It is more a double-edged sword for the Tories. They’ve woken up to the ethnic minority vote and got their hands dirty (building experience for next time). And they have a dynamic new candidate on their hands who may be good for another seat even if he loses here.

    But whether Tony Lit will want to do the hard slog and run to be selected as the Conservative candidate in seats around the country is another matter.
    They can’t just parachute him in to another seat come the General Elections. And if they win then sooner or later their local Conservative association will be dogged by fierce factionalism and in-fighting given their recent recruits.

    My feeling is that the Liberal Democrats will come out further than expected. They’ve firstly been leafleting and campaigning like mad. Secondly, their candidate, if not an old fogey or a young candidate, is a veteran and came second place last time with 11,000 votes. As long as Respect don’t bite too much into their anti-war vote, they should fare well.

    I’m fairly certain Sharma will win, but it will be a close by-election.

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    Filed in: Party politics

    23 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. The Wardman Wire » Ealing Southall: Is voting by “families” and “congregations” is acceptable in a democracy?

      [...] Sunny Hundal over at Pickled Politics: The Sikh vote is seen as crucial to this by-election, leading some election-watchers to make bad [...]

    2. Ministry of Truth » Ealing Southall - Yet More Embarrassment for Lit/Cameron

      [...] identical to those being posted on a number of Sikh forums, and in comments on several blogs (as here on Pickled Politics) by members of the Sikh Federation, which amongst other things, actively campaigns against the [...]

    1. Rumbold — on 13th July, 2007 at 10:35 am  

      Have you seen the ad below this article Sunny?

      “Vote local vote Lit”

      They will not be very happy with you down at Labour HQ.

      I am being to see your point about these defections. The only reasons that the ex-Councillors from the Borough of Hounslow joined the Conservative Party is that they had lost their seats due to the increasing unpopularity of Labour; just look at the makeup of the council now.

    2. Rumbold — on 13th July, 2007 at 10:36 am  

      Correction: I am beginning to see your point

    3. Neet — on 13th July, 2007 at 11:13 am  

      I’m glad to see that the majority of Sikhs will not influenced to vote on merely a candidate’s religion. But I also think it is quite distasteful for Gurdwara ardaas to include any kind of party political message.

    4. Matt — on 13th July, 2007 at 11:20 am  

      With all of these defections I can’t see anything other than a Conservative win even when I take off the rose-tinted spectacles?!

    5. Sunny — on 13th July, 2007 at 11:58 am  

      Heh, Matt. Funny man.

      Rumbold - ahem… the Tories wanted to advertise with us for their candidate so I ran the ad. It means I get to buy the Picklers a round of drinks at our next meetup.

    6. Rumbold — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:03 pm  

      It was not a criticism Sunny; I just thought that it was funny- what will Tom ‘most pointless resignation ever’ Watson say?

    7. leon — on 13th July, 2007 at 1:57 pm  

      It means I get to buy the Picklers a round of drinks at our next meetup.

      *raises eyebrow, starts looking in diary for next available date for a meet up*


    8. Robert — on 13th July, 2007 at 2:26 pm  

      In many ways this election is a win-win for Labour.

      I see your logic, Sunny, and I’m sure you’re right for Labour in Ealing Southall.

      But surely the wider national picture means that this simply isn’t true for Labour as a whole. Its Brown’s first by-election (the one in Sedgefield really doesn’t count) and even going from and 11,400 majority to “a close by-election” is good news for the Tories. That’s what matters to the national media. And it is also what matters to the Tory bloggers who will very soon be commenting on more of your “spin”…

    9. leon — on 13th July, 2007 at 2:36 pm  

      Because the Tory bloggers never use spin to defend or further their party…

    10. Tristan Mills — on 13th July, 2007 at 2:56 pm  

      I hate the way there is this religion based politics. Its as bad as the Tories assuming that the family will vote in the way the father/husband votes.

      I’d urge people in the Gurudwaras to vote how they see fit, not how the committee recommends (if the two coincide then fair enough of course).

      Religion and race politics is ugly and unedifying.

    11. John — on 13th July, 2007 at 4:24 pm  

      Sunny is right to describe former Cllrs Kad and Gill as “opportunists” - the Tories are their third party in five years.

      Both Gill and Kad joined the ‘Hounslow Independent Alliance’ after being expelled from the Labour Party after the investigation into the notorious Heston and Cranford Planning Committee record of dodgy decisions.

      A report that can be seen on the Local Government Ombudsman site says ” The area committee decided not to take (enforcement) action. In doing so, they took into account irrelevant matters and factually inaccurate information. They gave little weight to the Council’s policies and planning guidance. Some members of the committee had received no training in planning issues. One of the reasons given for their decision was factually inaccurate.

      A review of the Council’s records revealed that in recent years this area committee had refused a higher proportion of officers’ recommendations to take planning enforcement action than the Council’s other area planning committees, and that concerns about this committee’s planning decision making had been raised in a report to the Council’s Executive Committee by its Scrutiny Committee in 2003.”

      Clearly Cameron will take anyone these days.

    12. Unity — on 13th July, 2007 at 4:32 pm  

      I see that John’s got in ahead of me with the skinny on our latest ‘defectors’.

    13. Jasvir Kaur — on 13th July, 2007 at 5:06 pm  

      The Ealing Times

      Question Time for candidates

      CANDIDATES in the Ealing Southall by-election will be challenged in a question time event next week.

      They will be grilled to find out where they stand on a range of issues such as job cuts, privitisation and civil service pay.

      The event which is organised by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), is part of their Make Your Vote Count campaign.

      It will be at Ealing Town Hall on Monday, July 16, at 6.30pm and everyone is welcome to attend.

      2:07pm today


    14. Jasvir Kaur — on 13th July, 2007 at 5:06 pm  

      At the Question Time the range of issues mentioned are job cuts, privatisation and civil service pay. Sikhs should be raising a number of other issues with all candidates. For example here are 7 for a starter:

      1) Do they think it would be good to see a turbaned Sikh in Parliament and how best could this be achieved?

      2) If elected will you highlight human rights violations of minorities (e.g. Sikhs) in India?

      3) Should there be an upper age limit for MPs and what should this be?

      4) Is it appropriate for elected MPs in the UK Parliament to maintain ties with foreign political parties, for example, Congress or RSS, in India?

      5) What are your views on the Sikh organisations proscribed/banned in the UK in March 2001 and the absence of terrorist Hindu organisations?

      6) Do you support the right to self determination?

      7) Should human rights violators from countries like India be prosecuted if they enter the UK under the Criminal Justice Act?

    15. leon — on 13th July, 2007 at 5:18 pm  

      I note we haven’t seen a deluge of Tory drones gloating about great all this is. Can I take it from their absence they’ve finally realised just what they’re getting themselves into?

    16. leon — on 13th July, 2007 at 5:20 pm  

      4) Is it appropriate for elected MPs in the UK Parliament to maintain ties with foreign political parties, for example, Congress or RSS, in India?

      Now that question really does open up a can of worms…

    17. KSingh — on 13th July, 2007 at 6:50 pm  

      There is still plenty of trouble with the remaining Labour councillors ,Sonika still wants the ‘Old Guard Out’

    18. thomas — on 16th July, 2007 at 2:35 am  

      …and is it appropriate that newly internationalised trade unions cross-subsidise election campaigns in their constituent countries (ie USA, UK etc); are we seeing an unheralded and unmandated globalisation of electioneering taking place under our noses?

      Has the media revolution really broken down the barriers of debate to the extent that all of humankind can theoretically talk on the same page, or that these important (and motivating) issues of the day (ie climate change, terrorism etc) are becoming so dramatic and urgent that they must be lifted out of the public domain?

      If so, does this explain the current socially engineered stratification of society and its necessary corollary - exposure of the flaws inherent in democracy?
      If not, have the established institutions of goverment fallen into the trap of muddled thinking and lack of foresight?

      How can we have confidence that government has a handle on forces behind change and that it is acting in our best interests?

      Does the parochialism of by-elections swamp out awareness of the bigger forces at work in the world?

      What platform is actually provided for debate and discussion to enliven, engage and educate the wider public?

      I predict the answer will be provided by the proportional turnout figures, but the result will also be interpreted by the Westminster chatterers as a reflection upon their relative merits rather than as evidence to critique prevailing political cultures.

    19. Sukhi — on 16th July, 2007 at 4:20 pm  

      Excellent article Sunny. Good to see the Khalistani bigots and communalists squirming.

      1) Do they think it would be good to see a turbaned Sikh in Parliament and how best could this be achieved?

      Yes it would be nice. The best way to achieve it? By a keshdari Sikh gaining a seat in a viable and electable constituency through his commitment to mainstream politics and party. Not by chauvinistic ‘positive dicrimination’ in a constituency like Ealing Southall, in which Sikhs represent only 23% of the population, and turbanned orthodox Sikhs even less than that.

      5) What are your views on the Sikh organisations proscribed/banned in the UK in March 2001 and the absence of terrorist Hindu organisations?

      Just because there are Hindu extremist organisations which have not been proscribed by the British government has no relevancy to the existence of proscribed Khalistani terrorist bodies which are banned by the European Union, the USA and Canada. They must stay banned, subject to intelligence and scrutiny, and all those individuals and organisations who support them and campaign for their de-proscription should be monitored and highlighted.

      So at question Time, Khalistani activists should be asked why they seek to introduce poisonous strains of religious nationalism and hatred in the most multi-ethnic and multi-religious constituency in the whole of Great Britain. They should also be asked why they treat this as a Khalistani fiefdom when in reality over 75% of the constituency is not Sikh, and religious nationalist politics and chauvinism, their rhetoric, troublemaking and fundamentalism are reviled and despised by the majority of Sikhs in Britain. They should be asked politely why they continue to spit into the well of multicultural Britain.

      These are the questions you need to be asked.

    20. Jagdeep — on 16th July, 2007 at 6:05 pm  

      What a farce this by-election is! Hilarious. Ripe material for a satirical play or TV series I think. Good to see it dredged up some of the old ideological buffoons and that they have been made mincemeat of. Their marginality is definitive.

      Just a shame Sonika Nirwal didnt get the nomination. I hope she finds a constituency soon.

    21. Chris Paul — on 16th July, 2007 at 11:10 pm  

      Rumbold (1) is wrong about the Hounslow “defectors”. They stood against Labour because they were de-selected and lost to THREE successful Labour candidates.

      The community party they stood for was set up by an NF veteran with a prison record for ABH (Bricking a policeman from a moving train).

      So that’s their stepping stone to the Tories. And AFAIK they don’t even have a vote in ES.

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