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Labour changes Kashmir stance, seeks India relations 'reset'

Historically, the Labour Party has taken a robust stance on human rights violations and the Kashmir conflict more vigorously than other British political parties.

News Arena Network - London - UPDATED: July 5, 2024, 07:55 PM - 3 mins read

Newly inducted Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Labour party leader Keir Starmer.

Labour changes Kashmir stance, seeks India relations 'reset'

Newly inducted Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Labour party leader Keir Starmer.


The sweeping majority for Britain’s Labour Party under Keir Starmer heralds a new chapter in the UK-India relations, previously strained by the Kashmir issue.

 

Historically, the Labour Party has taken a robust stance on human rights violations and the Kashmir conflict more vigorously than other British political parties.

 

In 2019, under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour Party passed an emergency motion on Kashmir at its annual conference, criticizing India's decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August that year.

 

The motion highlighted a humanitarian crisis and called for self-determination for the Kashmiri people. India’s response was unequivocal, branding the move by Corbyn-led Labour as “uninformed and unfounded.”

 

The motion stirred controversy within the Labour Party, leading to a backlash against several Labour MPs of Indian origin and others with significant Indian voter bases, as the resolution was perceived as anti-India.

 

The situation was further compounded when Corbyn was suspended from the party in 2020 amid an antisemitism row, prompting him to contest as an Independent and win from Islington North, a constituency he has represented since 1983.

 

Now, with Starmer at the helm and as Britain's new prime minister, there is a palpable shift in approach. Starmer's manifesto includes a pledge to establish a "new strategic partnership" with India.

 

“Labour will build and strengthen modern partnerships with allies and regional powers. We will seek a new strategic partnership with India, including a free trade agreement, as well as deepening cooperation in areas like security, education, technology, and climate change,” states the manifesto.

 

David Lammy, Labour Party leader and now foreign secretary, echoed this sentiment last month, pointing out continuity in the approach towards India.

 

Speaking at the India Global Forum in London, Lammy described India as an economic and technological superpower, vital for the future of Asia. He remarked, “India contributes significantly to British prosperity. Last year, India was our second-largest foreign direct investment contributor. Over 950 Indian companies employ over 100,000 people in the UK. However, India is only our 12th largest trade partner, and we believe it could be much more.”

 

Lammy spotlighted the need for a “reset and a relaunch” of the India-UK relationship, criticising the Conservative Party for consistently “over-promising and under-delivering” on India. 

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