Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) write:
Last week Lord Singh the 86-year old peer who has positioned himself successfully in the wider public and the government as the only voice of the Sikh community for almost the last 40 years..
- Why the ageist reference? According to Sikh teachings, it is not age, but ability and commitment that count.
- Referring to ‘the 86-year-old peer’ is better than a previous SFUK description ‘a dinosaur’. What is it about the SFUK and references to age?
- The SFUK in its different forms has been around for nearly 40 years. Why is it that this one individual has done more to promote an understanding of Sikh teachings in the government and wider public than the whole of SFUK put together?
Lord Singh has also been overshadowed in Parliament for the last 18 months by the energetic Preet Kaur Gill, the first Sikh woman MP who became a shadow Minister within months of being elected and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the first turban wearing Sikh MP. Lord Singh is no longer the only Sikh politician that government, fellow Parliamentarians and the media turn to.
This childish ‘you’re not the only one,’ is simply school playground jealousy. The more Sikh MPs, the better.
However, what Lord Singh failed to disclose in the debate is he is the one and only life-time Director of the NSO. It now emerges he may not have declared this for the last seven years in the Register of Lords’ Interests, since he became a Lord in October 2011.
I am not a lifetime director. All power lies with the elected Executive. They can sack me any time. It is an honorary post for which I do not receive a penny. In last month’s AGM, I specifically requested a diminution in my responsibilities.
Our website will confirm that membership of the NSO requires a commitment to live and propagate Sikh teachings. I believe, that as the first turban wearing Sikh in Parliament, this commitment is seen whenever I stand up to speak. It is appreciation of this commitment to uplifting Sikh teachings that enabled me to get cross-part support for the Amendment.
Why I stated in the debate that the government should consult with myself and the NSO in discussing any reservations about the amendment.
It was I who raised the issue at Second Reading. It was I who subsequently requested a meeting with the Minister, Baroness Williams and her advisers. It was I who had discussions with Lord Kennedy and Lord Paddick.
At the conclusion of my meeting with Baroness Williams it was agreed that they would come back to me. Instead of doing this as courtesy requires, they, ‘in the innocent belief that they are all the same’, then spoke to the SFUK who were naturally unable to respond to the points raised. But for them speaking to the wrong people, the Amendment would have received unanimous approval at Grand Committee. The Government have already apologised for this.
My comment that SFUK does not speak for all Sikhs
I mentioned this because it is true. If it were not true, SFUK would not have lost power in gurdwaras in Leicester, Southampton and their former stronghold in Wolverhampton.
The APPG for British Sikhs
I said the APPG for Sikhs and SFUK were one and the same, because this is true. The Chair is a SFUK sympathiser who appointed them to be its secretariat. There is only one other Sikh member. Four Sikhs in the House of Lords were excluded from its inaugural meeting.
Lord Singh of Wimbledon Director Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO)