British Sikh hopes to become first turban-wearing MP
A British Sikh local politician has been selected by the Opposition Labour party as its candidate for the June 8 general election and hopes to become the first turban-wearing MP in the House of Commons.
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, known as Tan, will be hoping to hold on to the Slough constituency, where previous Labour MP Fiona Mactaggart won by a majority of 7,336 (15.2 per cent) in the 2015 election.
"I am humbled to be selected as Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Slough and hope to have the honour of serving the town where I was born and raised," said Dhesi, currently local councillor for Gravesham. His selection by the Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) on Friday attracted some controversy as it goes against the party's policy to select women for seats previously contested by women candidates. Mactaggart had announced her decision to step down earlier this month, along with a series of veteran Labour MPs who announced their decision not to contest in the next general election.
Dhesi is being backed by representative group Sikh Federation (UK), which has set up a steering committee to lobby for greater Sikh representation in winnable parliamentary seats in the elections.
"We know there remains some controversy about Tanmanjeet's selection, but this is a matter for the Labour National Executive Committee (NEC)," a spokesperson said.
"What we do know is Labour has selected a turban-wearing Sikh who has an excellent chance to become the first turban- wearing Sikh in the House of Commons and he will have our full support," the spokesperson said.
Preet Kaur Gill, a Labour Councillor in Sandwell, is hoping to become the first female Sikh MP after she was selected earlier this week to replace Gisela Stuart MP in Birmingham Edgbaston and will be defending a majority of 2,706 (6.6 per cent).
Earlier in April, the UK parliament had voted in favour of Prime Minister Theresa May's call for an early general election. The Parliament had voted 522 to 13 in favour of the election taking place on June 8.
May had called for a snap election in a surprise announcement as Britain prepared for delicate negotiations on leaving the European Union.
She had said that holding an election in June, rather than as scheduled in 2020, will give the country "certainty and stability" as it negotiates its departure from the EU.