UK Opposition leader evokes Gandhian spirit in speech on workers' rights

Addressing her first party conference in Brighton on Monday as in charge of the party’s foreign affairs brief, Lisa Nandy referenced her roots in India and power struggles.

Published: 28th September 2021 03:47 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th September 2021 03:47 PM   |  A+A-

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi (File Photo)


LONDON: Lisa Nandy, one of the senior-most members of the UK Opposition Labour Party, evoked Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian independence struggle during her flagship speech at the party’s annual conference.

Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary in leader Keir Starmer’s top team, was born to Dipak Nandy – a Kolkata-born academic well-known for his work in the field of race relations in Britain.

Addressing her first party conference in Brighton on Monday as in charge of the party’s foreign affairs brief, Nandy referenced her roots in India and power struggles.

“Friends, we meet today in a city which looks out onto the ocean, from an island shaped by waves of immigration. They include the many children of the Empire, like my dad, who came here from India in the 50s and through the struggle to create the Race Relations Act helped forge our national story,” she said.

“This is the country we can be. One that lifts our eyes beyond the horizon, to see that together – only together – will we change the lives of people here and across the world,” she said.

The 42-year-old stressed that Labour’s foreign policy will put people at its heart, to defend national security, protect the planet and uphold human rights.

She also attempted to galvanise the party membership, which includes workers’ unions, to bring energy behind defeating trade models that allow the market to be flooded with “cheap goods from China, built on low wages and bad conditions, hurting wages and jobs in towns across Britain”.

“Almost a century ago the seams of my family were threaded together when the Indian independence campaign, supported by my grandparents, had devastating consequences for Lancashire textile workers. When the cotton stopped coming, the mills stopped running and the workers went hungry,” said Nandy.

“But members of my family, who worked in those mills, were among those who welcomed Gandhi to Lancashire. Because they knew, as I know, as the first mixed race woman to ever hold this office, that solidarity has power and our struggle is one and the same,” she said, in reference to Gandhi''s famous visit to Lancashire in 1931 when he met mill workers facing hardship.

“So we will stand up to the oligarchs who subvert our democracy, avoid the taxes that fund our schools and hospitals and use the things that matter to us, the football clubs that stand at the centre of our communities, as playthings,” she added.

The Labour Party conference, held annually in the seaside town of Brighton, is seen as a major test of the leadership of Keir Starmer and his top team.


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