MEND STATEMENT: Leicester Elections
Categories: Latest News
Thursday April 27 2023
As local elections draw nearer, MEND calls for all political parties to take caution and have a sensible approach to their campaigning activities and to not stoke tensions in the City.
Recently, both Labour and Conservative parties have invited MPs Virendra Sharma (Labour) and Bob Blackman (Conservative) to campaign in Leicester.
In the context of wider events in Leicester, the invitation of these two controversial politicians in particular, could be seen as divisive and irresponsible on part of both major political parties. Their invitation could further harm social cohesion and increase uneasiness among the diverse communities in Leicester, at a time where community rebuilding, trust, and unity needs to be at the core of local politics.
In our report into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, MEND demonstrates several incidences of Islamophobia by Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East. This included retweeting posts from well-known Islamophobe Tommy Robinson, and hosting anti-Muslim extremist Tapan Ghosh, who has a record of supporting the genocide of Rohingya Muslims.
Furthermore, Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall, was accused of causing disturbances and dividing the communities following divisive comments he made in a Parliamentary debate on Kashmir, wherein he called Pakistan a terrorist state. In 2021, he stepped down as patron of ‘Inspiring Indian Women’ following hateful and abusive comments made by the organisation directed towards Sikhs, including Labour MP Tan Dhesi following farmer protests in India.
Bringing these two MPs to Leicester in the current political context is indicative of pandering to the Hindutva vote and sidelining mainstream Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other voices in the City.
Following the disturbances late last year, parties must take precaution to avoid inflaming sectarian tensions. Both political parties are currently guilty of playing divisive politics for short-term electoral gain, at the cost of wider community cohesion. MEND calls for all political parties to be responsible in their approach, and ensure that all campaigning related activities remain inclusive.