When my grandparents arrived in the UK from India in the 1950's there was little to welcome them. They weren't allowed into certain jobs, mainstream society or even on the grass. Aside from the fledgling diaspora, the only other support came from the Labour Party. They offered a hand of friendship and an arm of protection. In return, the Indian community gave their votes, loyalty and heart - for generations. In our family, as well as a blotchy mess, you exit the womb two things: A Sikh and a Labour voter. I saw through the God gobbledegook years ago, and now I, and countless other British Indian's - both young and old - walk away from Labour.
The party we were brought up to believe in and trust no longer exists. It is behaving in a way we can't understand or support.
The antisemitism row isn't just a Jewish problem. It is perceived in some quarters that Labour has tolerated some under its banner to round on a minority and unleash hatred, bile and attack, the likes of which has not been seen in mainstream British politics since the 1930's. This sinister behaviour is becoming worse and more entrenched in the identity of Corbyn's Labour. Unchecked, it could appear as de-facto policy. The behaviour of Momentum this week at conference has torn to shreds the (already questionable) conclusions of Baroness Chakrabarti's report on Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Wound one minority, others feel the slice; some British Indians are watching and wondering, 'are we next?' It may be a groundless question, but fear has a tendency to bypass pragmatism and cool thought. It's almost unconscionable that Labour (officially or unofficially) could even contemplate an attack on a minority. They were our guardians, not our accusers. It seems that there may be cause for concern: Brexit has stoked old racial tensions; Labour's near-silence on race-hate crimes has been deafening and terrifying in equal measure. We expect token-gesture responses from the Conservatives, but from Labour we want heartfelt action and solidarity. There has been neither.
But silence seems to be something they have become rather good at. Many in the British Indian community were waiting for the Labour party to roar a response to the doctors' strike, teachers strike and BHS fiasco - fertile Labour ground if there ever was one - but nothing impassioned came from them. Just Stock responses and stock protests. Their minds - and hearts - were elsewhere. I just don't know where. My grandfather, who helped establish the Indian Workers Association trade union in the 1960's with support from Labour, would be itching under his turban in disbelief if he were alive now. But beyond Corbyn's apathy and otherness, his shadow Chancellor has truly ripped away the heartstrings. The British Indian community are hard-wired for entrepreneurship - it's a trait seared into them by the poverty-fire which flamed under their feet. So, for him to try and convince them of the merits of high business taxation, borrowing and nationalisation is a mission of kamikaze consequences.
Labour is being perceived by some as a party of extremism, isolationism, intrigue and fear. It is not a party for British Indians any more. But I ask Corbyn and his acolytes this: do you realise what you have lost? Do you realise who you have cast aside? The British Indians were among your most loyal foot-soldiers. They were your broken-glass-crawlers, die hard campaigners and effective - and passionate - evangelisers. You have pushed away a worthy and honourable group of women and men, and generations yet unborn, with your policies, tolerances and silence. And for what? For who? I fear it's for your own skewed notion of Britain. But that country - the way you want it to be - will never and should never exist.
But where do we go now? Where do my family, and many like us, put our cross on polling day? The Liberal Democrats are now nothing more than a grumble in the gut of democracy and the Tories still smell a bit iffy. Whatever Jeremy Corbyn may now say about migrants, workers-rights or the economy, a thick, fibrous umbilical between British Indians and the Labour Party has been severed.Suggest a correction