Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi who became Britain’s first turban-wearing Sikh Member of Parliament gave his maiden speech on Tuesday and it set the net on fire. In a Channel 4 News video of the speech, Dhesi said, “Slough is a town of firsts. It elected the UK’s first ever black lady mayor [Lydia Simmon] and now, more than three decades later, it has elected the first ever turbanned Sikh in the British Parliament. Indeed, I believe the first ever to any European parliament. A glass ceiling has truly been broken and I sincerely hope that many more like me will follow in the years and decades to come.” It was a watershed moment for the Sikh community in Britain as Dhesi was elected to the House of Commons along with Labour’s Preet Kaur Gill, who is the first female Sikh MP. Dhesi, known as Tan, won the Slough seat with 34,170 votes, according to PTI. He had defeated his Conservative party rival by 16,998 votes. The general election had taken place on June 8.
He said, “The enormity of what has been collectively achieved has not escaped me. Amongst the literally thousands of goodwill messages from around the globe, one individual very succinctly put it: I feel really happy because finally there’s someone that looks like me sitting in Parliament. However, I was most overwhelmed during a recent trip up north when an elderly gentleman said, ‘I’m proud son because I didn’t think that I would see this in my lifetime.’ It is a sense of belonging when you get bullied at school for looking different, when you stand out from the crowd. It is a case of being respected and embraced by your fellow countrymen and women within the highest echelons of the establishment.”
Dhesi was elected the Mayor of Gravesham. At 32, he was the youngest Sikh mayor in Europe, according to reports. In his speech, he said, “When I served as mayor in 2011, integration was my mayoral theme. The message that I consistently took out to our community, to our schools…was that we should all be proud of our own distinct identity. For those of us, who are born and brought up in Britain are British nationals, we should also be proud to be British.”