CHANDIGARH: General elections in the UK are barely two months away and 35% Sikh voters are yet to make their mind regarding who to vote. However, 31% have decided to cast their vote in favour of the Labour party, findings of a recent survey have revealed.
British Sikh Report 2015 survey?done with a sample size of 1000?also shows that 67% Sikhs want the UK to remain with the European Union and for 81%, National Health Service (NHS) remains the most important issue in the UK. While economy is very important for 78% of them, 77% give great importance to education.
The report further reveals that 16% intend to vote for the Conservative Party, while only 1% intend to vote for Liberal Democrats; 9% may not vote at all. The minor political parties too have some following among British Sikhs; 3% intend to vote for UKIP and 4% for the Greens. Meanwhile, 24% of Scottish Sikhs intend to vote for the SNP, making up 1% of all British Sikhs intending to do so.
Apart from the electoral choices, the report also throws light on some other important issues pertaining to Sikhs as 74% wish to see labeling of meat as Halal or Kosher and 62% wanting the British government to grant asylum to all people fleeing religious persecution and 73 % wish that Sikhs fleeing religious persecution abroad be granted asylum.
British Sikh Report chairman Jasvir Singh told TOI said the usual perception was that migrant communities were supporting the Labour Party, but 16 % Sikh respondents intending to vote for the Conservatives was surprising against the backdrop of the pro-Labour perception.
According to the BSR team, this report is the only strategic document of its kind, aimed at governmental bodies and national institutions alike, which draws attention to the aspirations of the British Sikh community across a range of areas.
The study was compiled by a group of professionals and academics from diverse backgrounds in their twenties and thirties who believe that such an initiative is long overdue. It was ensured that team had editorial independence and no organization or group, who may have vested interests, could have undue influence on the questionnaire or survey.
67% Sikhs want the UK to remain with the EU
46% are in favour of the UK remaining in the EU as long as there are reforms in the EU
42% British Sikhs say the UK is made a better place to live by immigrants as opposed to 32% who think that the UK is made worse by immigrants
44% Sikhs talk positively about the royal family
Half of the British Sikhs (49%) believe that the community is portrayed positively in the mainstream media compared to 35% who believe that British Asians are portrayed negatively
56% British Sikh incomes have remained the same or have declined since 2010; 88% say their costs of living have gone up
54% would like to know which farm the meat comes from
38% specifically want to know the method of slaughter
The questionnaire also asked respondents if the January 2014 disclosures about British government sending a member of SAS to help the Indian government in the run up to Operation Blue Star in 1984 would be a significant factor in their decision about which political party they vote for. Significantly, 51% respondents in their 50s said that it would not be a factor. The responses reflected that 35% respondents in their 20s, who were not born at that time, replied affirmatively to the poser, followed by 33% respondents in their 50s. Those in their 30s and 40s were only 28% and 29% respectively for whom it was a deciding factor.
In fact, this was the only question which asked for comments of respondents and almost all the responses reproduced in the report expressed anguish at the events of 1984 and a desire to know the truth is also reflected. However, apparently this does not remain the single most important factor to pick the party of their choice in the elections
The British Sikh Report also throws significant light about the self identity in Sikhs living in Britain. According to the report’s findings, 65 % Sikhs identify themselves as British Sikhs or British; 50 % Sikhs living in Scotland define themselves as Scottish Sikhs