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Priti Patel is UK’s first Gujarati woman MP – 8.5.2010

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The House of Commons, 2010, the mother of modern parliaments, for the first time got a Gujarati woman — Priti Patel (Conservative) — as a member on 7.5.2010.

Apart from Priti, who triumphed by a massive margin at Witham, candidates of Indian origin in the British elections augmented their presence in the House. As the Opposition Conservative party gained at the expense of the governing Labour party to become the largest single formation, so did the British Indians in its ranks.

In two significant upsets, Alok Sharma in Reading West and Paul Uppal in Wolverhampton South West unseated Labour.

The former erased a 12% deficit from the 2005 elections to storm into the Commons. As anticipated, Valerie Vaz of Labour claimed a maiden victory at Walsall South to join her brother Keith of the same party who retained Leicester East in the British Parliament.

These Goan siblings become the first brother-sister amalgamation in the Commons since the 1950s.

With their victories, Valerie and Priti became the first women of Indian descent to enter Britain’s directly elected national legislature.

Patel’s success was no surprise as she had been granted a rock solid Tory constituency. Also, as expected, Virendra Sharma of Labour held on to Sikh-dominated Ealing Southall, as did Shailesh Vara of the Conservatives in Cambridgeshire North West. Both widened the gap between them and their respective rivals.

But really noteworthy is Marsha Singh’s achievement, who has uninterruptedly represented Bradford West — often referred to a little Pakistan — since 1992.

Ceaselessly, including on this occasion, his opponents have thrown contenders of Pakistan extraction at him. But the electorate has remained undeterred, rewarding him now with an increased majority.


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