Total posts in this category: 13


Elections and Immigration – The Elephant in the Room: Why non-UK citizens from 72 countries or territories are allowed to vote in UK elections

Posted April 16, 2015

Last night I was called a racist during an election debate organised by Eastern Eye where BBC’s D.J. Nihal was quizzing a panel representing the three main parties, Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats. It came about because I asked a question about who was entitled to vote. The charge was that I was being racist to Asians and it was hurled at me by an Indian lady. Since I am also of Indian origin it was somewhat curious.

The three panellists Nihal was grilling were Michael Gove for the Tories, Ivan Lewis for Labour and Baroness Kramer for the LibDems. Nihal, who did an excellent job, much better than some of the better known political journalists, started by talking about immigration. This was understandable for, as he put it, most of the people in the room were either immigrants or children of immigrants. On the way there I was again made aware of the feelings on immigration when my taxi driver, who was white, said he would vote UKIP and then reassured me “It has nothing to do with race”.  In response to Nihal all three panellists made the point that they wanted immigration fairly regulated.

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Race isn’t a black and white issue in grassroots football

Posted December 2, 2011

Evening Standard

Game on: APSA London, in green, and Bowers & Pitsea line up in east London. Image courtesy of Evening Standard

Sepp Blatter has probably never seen a match in the Essex Senior League, but if he did it might give him some insight into racism in football.

The match between London APSA and Bowers & Pitsea, just up the road from Upton Park, starts off well.

The match programme has a full-page advertisement: “Let’s kick racism out of football.” And the two teams appear to be doing just that. London APSA, largely Asian, have a white goalkeeper. The visiting team from Basildon have several black players, and the referee is black.

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Time to explode the great immigration myths

Posted May 19, 2011

Evening Standard

The great myth about immigration is that there has never been any proper debate on the issue.

Not true. In the 40 years since I first arrived from India, immigration, like taxes and the royal family, has formed a constant backdrop of national discourse.

I came months after Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech. Then, immigration was a codeword for coloured immigration. But, as yesterday’s figures from the Office of National Statistics show, the group showing the largest population increase between 2001 and 2009 were 533,000 “other whites”: east Europeans and people from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. This should help us stop seeing the issue as a purely ethnic one.

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Has Britain lost the values that drew me here?

Posted February 6, 2011

The Mail on Sunday

The week before David Cameron proclaimed the death of multiculturalism, my wife and I got lost driving through East London, not far from where the Olympics will be held. I leaned out of the car window to find a sign that was in a language I could not at first recognise. It was certainly not English.

Then I realised it was Bengali, the language of my parents. Although I speak Bengali, I have never been taught the written language.

For a moment, I had the bizarre thought that we had strayed into the east end of Kolkata – and, as in Kolkata, there was also an English sign and we eventually found our way. But that whole episode illustrated the multicultural mess we are in.

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The two faces of Empire

Posted October 1, 2009

History Today

The Second World War is well established as the classic fight between good and evil. We all know who the goodies were, yet the war saw many people choose to favour the baddies. They argued that they had to do so as the goodies had skeletons in their cupboards that made them not much better than the baddies and sometimes worse. These choices were made largely in Asia by leaders of countries fighting to be free of Western colonial rule. Given the mountain of material the war has inspired, you would expect historians to tackle this subject with some frequency. Yet it has merited little attention, particularly in the West.

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