LONDON/BIRMINGHAM: Nearly 250 British Pakistanis have become councillors in England after local council elections held on May 3.
More than 500 candidates of Pakistani origin contested the local elections held across England. Statistics gathered by these reporters show that almost 48 percent of those who contested the elections have been declared winners and a clear majority of the winners is from the opposition Labour Party.
Around 210 newly elected councillors are from Labour while the remaining are from Liberal Democrats and a very few from the ruling Conservatives -- also known as Tories. Of those British Pakistanis elected across the England councils, around 60 are women. Region wise, the highest number were from London where at least 85 candidates were elected from different boroughs. Out of 32 boroughs, at least one winner is of Pakistani origin in at least 21 boroughs.
Birmingham now has 22 councillors of Pakistani origin, while 16 candidates won from Manchester. Overall, Bradford is at top place where 27 councillors are British Pakistanis -- nine of them elected for the first time this month. In the London borough of Hounslow, a record number of 14 candidates won and all of them were from Labour Party, including seven males and as many females.
The victory of female candidates from Hounslow in itself is a record as it has the most number of females winning compared to any other council of England. Interestingly, before 2014, there was only one Pakistani-origin elected councillor from this council. The Borough of Walthamstow Council is at second position with 12 elected councillors. Eleven councillors won from the Redbridge Borough, all from Labour Party.
For Liberal Democrats, three candidates won each from London Borough of Sutton and from Birmingham. Woking proved a stronghold for Pakistani-origin candidates from where three were declared winners.
In Birmingham, the second largest city in the country after London, 101 seats were up for grabs after the recent boundary changes. For the first time, a record 22 candidates of Pakistani origin were successful, including four females, 19 from Labour Party and three from Liberal Democrats.
On 96 seats of Manchester City Council, 16 candidates of Pakistani origin, 10 males and six females, were successful.
In Leeds, from 99 council seats, nine seats went to Pakistani-origin candidates, including two females. In Bradford, known as Little Pakistan, one-third of the total council seats were on offer and on nine seats Pakistani-origin candidates were the winners including four females. Now 27 out of 97 councillors in Bradford are of Pakistani origin which is the highest proportion of councillors of Pakistani origin in any council in the UK. All winners in these local elections from Manchester, Leeds and Bradford are from Labour Party.
The results were same from many other smaller cities and towns. For example, in Slough Council, 16 councillors are now British Pakistanis with five elected recently. Similarly, in Oldham Council, 13 councillors are of Pakistani origin after six were elected this time. In neighbouring town of Rochdale, the total number of councillors of Pakistani origin is now 12 with five recent winners.
There are many councils across England where for the first time a British Pakistani candidate has won. In towns like Thurrock, Rushmoor, Redditch and in cities like Sunderland and Hull, first time, candidates of Pakistani origin won.
Out of 353 local councils in England, elections were held in 150 of them, including all 32 London boroughs, 34 metropolitan boroughs, 74 district and borough councils and 20 unitary authorities.
In all, 4,310 seats were up for grabs across England. In big cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Hull, Blackburn and Newcastle as well as in district councils of Eastleigh, Harrogate, Hastings, Huntingdonshire, Newcastle-under-Lyme, South Cambridgeshire and South Lakeland, elections were held on all seats. While in some councils, polls were held on half of the seats and in some one-third of the seats were on offer.
Unlike Pakistan, the political journey of most politicians in Britain starts at the council level, basic local government system. The likes of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, ex-MP Muhammed Sarwar, Khalid Mahmood MP, Imran Hussain MP, Sajjad Karim MEP, Rehman Chishti MP, Lord Qurban Hussain and Afzal Khan MP started their political career contesting in the local elections and were elected councillors as a first step. Across the United Kingdom, the total number of councillors stands at over 500.