Dadabhai Naoroji Awards - Leicester Political Trailblazers
Leicester City Liberal Democrats have received the prestigious Dadabhai Naoroji Award at the National Party Conference in Brighton last week. It is the first time the award has been presented in commemoration of Naoroji’s historic achievements of which there were many.
In India he laid the foundations of the Indian National Congress and was elected its President in 1886. If that was not enough, he then made political history by becoming the first British Asian Member of Parliament at the grand old age of 67, serving until 1895. Naoroji was helped by Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah who both played an active role in his election campaign. Later he advised and guided them, as they went on to become the founders of modern India and Pakistan.
The momentous achievements of Naoroji were used as the inspiration behind setting up this award. Originated by the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats, it was open to several hundred local party groups across England, Scotland and Wales. It was presented to the local party that best demonstrated a record of achievement in promoting diversity through ethnic minority representation across its ranks.
Chair of Leicester City Liberal Democrats, Parmjit Singh Gill, a former city councillor and MP, said in receiving the award:
Naoroji was elected as a Liberal in Finsbury Central in 1892 and it’s a great honour to be receiving this prestigious award in his memory. It’s a fantastic achievement not just for Leicester Liberal Democrats but also for the city, reflecting the strength of diversity that exists in its many quarters.
EMLD Vice Chair and the initiator of the award Councillor Rabi Martins of Watford said:
Liberal Democrats should be the first choice Party for people from Britain’s Black and Asian Communities, but too often we do not do enough to reach them. This award is designed to encourage local Liberal Democrat Parties across the country to do more to engage with these groups in their constituencies. I hope to see even more competition for this unique award.
Naoroji’s election victory was a significant political statement that only in Britain, with its profound sense of fairness, could there be an opportunity in the nineteenth century for an Indian to be elected to the British Parliament.
However, as BME political under-representation remains a perennial problem within the Party, let’s hope that this award will help not only the Liberal Democrats, but all political parties to address the woeful under-representation of BME MPs.