IN LINE with the efforts of the ruling Conservative party-led coalition, Britain's opposition Labour party has stepped up its campaign to woo the 615,000-strong Indian-origin voters in time for the May 7 general election.

As part of the efforts, Labour's senior-most Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz hosted an event in London on Wednesday (February 18), planned as a celebration of the party's appeal among immigrant communities.

The party awarded well-known NRI entrepreneur and one of its most prominent donors Lord Gulam Noon with a Lifetime Achievement Award at its pre-election fundraising 'One Nation Diversity Dinner'.

“Lord Noon is a renowned British-based businessman and entrepreneur who has founded and operated a number of major food production companies,” his citation read.

“At the end of the day, Labour is my party and I want them to win,” said the Mumbai-born businessman, fondly referred to as 'curry king' in the UK.

Labour leader Ed Miliband praised Noon's dedication and hardwork.

“It says so much about our country and the way opportunities open up to people and the way in which we celebrate our diversity, because our diversity is our strength,” he said.

Vaz's sister Valerie – MP for Walsall South, Southall MP Virendra Sharma and Feltham and Heston MP Seema Malhotra make up the party's four Indian-origin Mps.

The party has also put up over 40 ethnic minority candidates in the upcoming general election this year.

“Labour has led the way on diversity. Labour has set the example by creating the benchmarks. Labour has fashioned the agenda on equality. And under Ed Miliband's leadership we have seen more ethnic minorities than ever before on the front
bench,” said Vaz, the chairman of the influential Home Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons.

Around 615,000 Indian-origin voters are expected to vote in the election this year.

A non-partisan campaign group, Operation Black Vote, has concluded that there will be 70 per cent more seats where black and Asian voters could decide the outcome in May this year than there were in the last election in 2010.

With the election less than three months way, all parties are re-doubling their efforts to garner these crucial votes.

In the last election, 68 per cent of the black and ethnic minority vote went to Labour, 16 per cent to the Conservatives and 14 per cent to the Liberal Democrats.

But while Labour has been the party of choice for most Indian-origin voters in the past, these elections are being viewed as an open field for all parties as they try and counter the anti-immigrant rhetoric.

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