Indian-origin MP in race to be UK speaker


Dhanda, a 37-year-old clean-shaven Sikh, threw his hat in the ring to succeed Michael Martin, who will step down June 21 after a controversial intervention last month in favour of disgraced MPs found to be claiming dubious parliamentary expenses.

If successful, he would be the first British Speaker — a centuries-old office — from an ethnic minority brackground.

Dhanda, who bemoaned the lack of Indian-origin ministers when he was replaced in a reshuffle last year, has written an email to all MPs ahead of the June 22 election saying the new speaker should be the “the interface between Parliament and modern Britain.”
“Parliament is in crisis. Just a few days ago we saw the election of two members of the BNP (anti-immigration British National Party)to the European Parliament. But I don’t believe that the British people are racist,” he said.

“It’s too late for evolution and time for us to be brave. I believe that if we firmly shift the pendulum of power back to the public they are more likely to put their trust in us again. To put these changes in place we will need a Speaker who is comfortable in, and able to communicate with modern Britain.”

Dhanda admitted that he was not “an obvious choice” but added: “Until I see someone more likely to win who will fight for the causes I spell out here, I’ll be in this contest.”
The Punjabi MP, whose parents came to Britain in the 1960s, has strong working class roots: his father was a lorry driver and mother a hospital cleaner. Dhanda became a trade union organiser and local councillor before being elected to the Commons in 2001 and made a junior minister in 2007.

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