09:10AM, Friday 16 June 2017
Having made his Parliamentary affirmation yesterday morning (Thursday), Slough’s new Labour MP Tan Dhesi has officially become Britain’s first turban-wearing Sikh MP.
Speaking to the Express at Westminster, the married father-of-two shared his ambitions as the town’s new representative. He said becoming the country’s first turban-wearing MP was ‘history in the making’.
“I think I was the first in British history and also the first in European history,” he added.
Mr Dhesi’s election attracted reporters from across the globe.
“It’s never happened in Europe before, that’s why there was so much attention,” he said.
He added this helped put Slough as a town on the international stage.
“It’s excellent for the town because it gives us a platform,” he said.
However, he was keen to emphasise that although proud of his faith, he is here to represent all of Slough’s many communities.
“The key thing here is I’m a strong and articulate voice, not just on Sikh issues,” he said.
“For me it’s about being a voice for the whole of Slough.”
In this year’s general election the former Mayor of Gravesham in Kent won the Slough seat with a majority of nearly 17,000.
The town’s former MP Fiona Mactaggart achieved a majority of 7,336 in 2015.
Reflecting on his party’s unexpected success, Mr Dhesi said: “Nationally I think we had a better campaign, we had a very good manifesto.
“I think as the election campaign went on we became stronger.”
He said his party’s grassroots campaigning and efforts to connect with marginalised and disillusioned voters helped his campaign in Slough.
Mr Dhesi, who works in construction, says the main issues in Slough he wants to focus on are housing, securing good quality jobs and the push to complete the Western Rail Link to Heathrow.
The 38-year-old visited Wexham Park Hospital on his campaign trail and said one of his priorities is to fight for the integration of healthcare and social care.
He spoke about the inferno which destroyed Grenfell Tower in West London on Wednesday and said he attended a Parliamentary briefing on the incident.
“People deserve safe housing. That should be the standard, that should be the norm,” he said. “That should apply to everybody.”
Mr Dhesi thanked Slough residents who have run donation drives for their generosity.
The MP says in the past week he has been kept very busy setting up his Parliamentary office and hiring new staff, and has asked his constituents to be patient.
“It’s still the same pace of the election campaign,” he added, saying he has not had much sleep since the count.
He says he hopes to start helping Slough residents with casework as soon as he can.
“I want to follow in the footsteps of other excellent constituency MPs,” he said.
“It’s about serving the whole community.”
Mr Dhesi, who previously pledged to move to Slough if he was elected, is expecting to set up a constituency office in Chalvey in a few weeks.
He added he is slowly stepping down other work commitments to focus on his new role.
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