15 January, 2013 13:38

Alpesh Patel’s Political Sketchbook: Leave the EU and form an Economic Union with India

This forthcoming week Barak Obama will make his second Inaugural speech as President. In his first such speech four years ago, he specifically mentioned Hindus – so important had they become to the future of US growth and capitalism. Indeed, it was the first time ever any American President had mentioned Hindus in their inaugural speech upon swearing the Oath of Office.

David Cameron announced this past week his plans to visit India next month. Writing on his blog before he took office (political blogs are far more revealing than political speeches – as many unguarded politicians have discovered to their cost) why he is visiting India when he wrote, ‘Our relationship with India goes deep. But I think it can and should go deeper. Our special relationship with America is well known. But as the world’s centre of gravity moves from Europe and the Atlantic to the south and the east, I think it’s time for Britain and India to forge a new special relationship for the twenty-first century.’

The problem is – actions speak louder than words. Explain to me how you plan a special relationship with India when your Home Secretary is rabidly ‘off the reservation’ with visa policy such that the presumption is Indian marriages are sham until proven otherwise. So how the heck do you expect Indians talent to come to the UK when you don’t want their spouses here? You think they can’t fly to Frankfurt and New York instead?

How do you plan a special relationship when major Indian corporate investors here have to jump through crazy loopholes so you can meet your immigration targets because you have an open border policy with Romania? What’s the Romanian track record on adding to British GDP? And where the hell is Lakshmi Mittal and Ratan Tata’s voice in all this. Making money is not all life is about.

Countries have ‘most preferred status’ with each other. UK does with the US for instance. No visas needed. But deeds speak very loudly when it comes to India.

The next election is two years away if you want to capture the British Indian vote, and funds, here’s your strategy – and the Party to steal this idea first, wins the race for this ethnic vote: double your visa staff in India, remove the sponsorship bureaucracy for family members coming to the UK (you don’t think the threat of prison is a deterrent in a cold, wet, expensive country?), have a prejudice in favour of Indian wanting to settle in the UK – has the community not done you proud as you mention at every single patronising opportunity how wonderfully colourful, peaceful, law-abiding we are, with such tasty food you’ve adopted and love. For God’s sake, we’re not children seeking a belly rub and a pat on the back. Some darn deeds to our fellow Indians wanting to settle here and help pull the country out of the hole it’s in may be in order. So leave the EU if you want David Cameron – form an economic union with India instead. Bet you’d win that referendum.

Let’s hope Britain recognises by deeds, not just words, the importance of Indians to Britain, the way President Obama, the most powerful man in the world did in the most significant speech of his life. We deserve deeds not words.

Alpesh B Patel


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