Mandeep Singh is a London based Amritdhari Sikh with 30 years of experience in the financial sector. He has worked in senior roles and been responsible for investment assets worth over $6billion. Here he shares some thoughts on the upcoming election in relation to Sikh principles and ethos.
A balance needs to be struck between socialist and conservative ideals. This is the most traditional Labour Party in two generations, against a most traditional Tory party.
Whilst there are differences in the approaches of the two parties, essentially it boils down to;
A) The Tories ideology is to shrink the state and its cost, to put more money back in your pocket and rely on businesses to generate wealth that trickles down the chain. It is “Laissez–faire” politics, geared towards the individual. The current reduction of the state is being conducted with the backdrop of austerity, making this a very traditional Tory government.
B) Labour’s ideology on the other hand, is to grow the state, increasing its cost. But this state provides a certain levels of employment and infrastructure to support the more down trodden – it is more community/collective driven.
As far as the economy is concerned – having seen elections since the 1970s and all the events since then – the economy is cyclical and there is a downturn every 12-14 years irrespective of which party is in power. In every decade since the 1970s there has been a crash and none of the parties have had any control over this.
1970s: The oil crisis – we remember having to sit in the car as our father lined up in long queues to get petrol. Also, impact of Falklands War.
1980s: The first major stock market and housing crash.
1990s: Dot com bubble crash followed by another market and housing crash. Also, impact of the first Gulf War.
2000s: The impact of 9/11, second Gulf War and 2008 credit crisis.
2010s: Continuing impact of austerity.
It really just boils down to how you feel or are led to believe through the media which approach will best fit your ideals.
We only have the choice of two main approaches in this country, or the Lib Dems in the middle. When the Tories get in, they change everything Labour did, and when Labour get in, they reverse Tory policies. We are stuck in this swing politics. This unfortunately does not allow for any meaningful length of stability and allow industries and infrastructure to mature, e.g. rail, to nationalise or not?
Taking the example of Ireland and many western EU countries where rail has remained nationalised, political stability has allowed those rail services to be efficient and better run than in the U.K, where regular changes and tendering for contracts has not allowed this to happen.
The question for Sikhs should really be How does this then align with Guru?
The follow on question for us is “Do you feel it is more important to help the downtrodden by growing the state and paying more for it, or by shrinking the state so you have more in your pocket to help directly and letting wealth spread down?”.
Why are we asking this question? Because from our understanding this is what Guru did. From the downtrodden Guru created kings and rulers, through the Guru Khalsa, who spread dharma (righteousness). The Khalsa (initiated Sikhs) were and are sovereign.
The next question is “How does either party serve the purpose of Guru Khalsa?”.
Naturally, many Sikhs have aligned with Labour for the ideology of the state helping more people. This does align with Gurmat – e.g. Langar (communal kitchens), creating dharamsals (centres of learning), centres for medicine, building of a mosque, etc.
The Tories also believe in hard work and reaping the benefits for the progress of society and nation. This also within Gurmat – creating centres of commerce around a base mainly near flowing waters, centres of education/dharma etc.
No one really articulates this from a Guru centric perspective and we end up voting based on our feelings and perceptions.
From our perspective, the elections are really just a best fit scenario for us and a bit of a con. They are a distraction from capitalism and large corporations having their way. The majority view wins and suppresses the minority view, who must sit in opposition ‘to keep in check’ the ruling party, creating a distraction of politics. This is essentially divide and rule by any other name by keeping us occupied.
For capitalism to work and thrive, democracy is the oil. People say this is freedom. This depends on how you define “freedom”. Is living in debt, stuck in the rat race, answering to someone else and sucking away your precious time really ‘freedom’?
Guru tells us “bhaiee parapat maanukh dhehureeaa Gobind milan kee eh theree bareeaa” – This human body has been given to you, this is your turn to meet the Lord of the Universe.
You got this human form with great difficulty. Now is the time to meet paramatma – the supreme soul. It is your turn to play this game.
How do you apply this?
In ithihaas (Sikh history) we see that leadership was based on merit – a meritocracy. Examples of Bhai Mani Singh and Jassa Singh alhuwalia come to mind.
Compared to the yardstick of these Khalsa (initiated Sikhs), how does either Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn measure up?
Just some thoughts in trying to align the election to Guru…