Why aren’t more British Indians critical of Priti Patel?

The Home Secretary’s divisive and xenophobic politics would suggest her as a likely nemesis of most minorities. Yet many British Indians don’t seem to have a problem with her

5 min readSep 1, 2020


Like my wife, Priti Patel was born in the UK to Gujarati parents emigrating from East Africa. Both my wife’s and Patel’s paternal grandparents were also born in Gujarat, India. It’s a history that many British Indians, particularly those whose families emigrated from East Africa, will share; the immigrant narrative in search of opportunities and social mobility for your family.

As a minority, there is often a sense of pride in seeing someone of your background represented in public life. In that regard, and for many British Indians, Patel represents a visibility that many minorities yearn for in securing positions that haven’t been afforded to those before them.

Although unlike many sons and daughters of immigrants, Priti Patel does not appear to embrace this aspect of her heritage, or her identity as a woman of colour. She is a member of arguably the most racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic British government in over 30 years. Her party wears its prejudice as a badge of honour in courting the support of those on the far right. As Home Secretary, Patel is content to see herself weaponised against her fellow minorities.

Her own rhetoric, and statements from her department, relentlessly demonises migrants. She is dismissive of systemic racism towards black people and, like her party and the government, appear lukewarm in contrast when condemning white supremacists. When minorities talk of allyship, she really isn’t the one.

With her policies and xenophobic remarks, Priti Patel is not a representation many minority communities would warmly welcome. So why aren’t more British Indians critical of Priti Patel?

Photo licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When recently discussing this with my mother-in-law, she opined that the lack of opposition towards xenophobic and racist government policy, particularly in her generation, was largely down to ignorance. She conceded, much to my wife’s chagrin, that she and her peers were more attuned to Indian current affairs and…