The Conservative Party Manifesto and the 2019 General Election

Saturday, 7 December 2019 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Conservative Friends of Sri Lanka (CFSL) is an official affiliate association within the Conservative Party and provides a voice for Sri Lanka within the Party. 

CFSL would like to clarify the statement made in the Conservative manifesto which appears to have aroused some concern and has, by some quarters, been deliberately misinterpreted in an attempt to distort the Conservative Party’s policy towards Sri Lanka. 

The text on page 53 of the Manifesto where Sri Lanka is mentioned is as follows: “We are proud of our peace-building and humanitarian efforts around the world, particularly in war-torn or divided societies, and of our record in helping to reduce global poverty. We will continue to support international initiatives to achieve reconciliation, stability and justice across the world, and in current or former conflict zones such as Cyprus, Sri Lanka and the Middle East, where we maintain our support for a two-state solution.” 

CFSL set about responding to concerns on this text as soon as the manifesto was released and has received clarification from senior officials in the Conservative Party that its position on Sri Lanka has not changed and can confirm that a “two-state solution” was NOT in reference to Sri Lanka. 

The Conservative Party’s Deputy Chairman, Paul Scully informed us of a statement issued last week which gave the following clarification: “The party’s position regarding Sri Lanka has not changed in this regard. To be absolutely clear, the two-state line in that section was intended to refer only to the Israel-Palestine situation in the Middle East (as is stated policy). The commitment on Sri Lanka and Cyprus were simply about continuing existing efforts to support peace and reconciliation in divided societies.” 

UK’s Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Dominic Raab has also confirmed that a “two-state solution” does not refer to Sri Lanka and the Conservative policy towards Sri Lanka has not changed. 

CFSL is now satisfied with the explanation given by the leadership of the Conservative Party and that a “two-state solution” was never being considered for Sri Lanka at any stage. We are aware of attempts, by those who claim to represent the British Tamil community, to misrepresent the Conservatives in an attempt to gain votes. We condemn such actions. It is also appropriate to draw your attention to the Labour Party’s policy on Sri Lanka, which is different in substance and tone.  In recent statements by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, they allege that the treatment of Tamils “should be recognised as an attempt at genocide” and that “the right of Tamils to determine their own future is central” to how Sri Lanka will be dealt with if Labour is elected into government. It’s clear that under Labour, UK would seek to have a hostile relationship with Sri Lanka.

British voters should be left in no doubt that voting for Labour in this election would lead to an adversarial and antagonistic relationship with the Sri Lankan Government.  The Labour party’s approach is at its core Tamil-centric only and barely understands nor acknowledges the grievances or interests of other communities in Sri Lanka, such as the Sinhalese, Muslim and other groups. 

We believe that this imbalanced approach at dealing with Sri Lankan issues is fundamentally detrimental to the mutual interests of all communities in both Sri Lanka and Britain: it does not foster peace and reconciliation, and it will weaken, not strengthen, bilateral relations between the two countries. 

The British people will be going to vote on 12 December and there will be many issues to consider, such as Brexit, sound management of the economy, addressing climate change and ensuring strong public services. 

CFSL advocates that you should cast your vote wisely to help ensure that Britain has a clear mandate to deal with a range of issues. When it comes to issues on Sri Lanka, we believe that it is only the Conservative Party that offers an opportunity to forge a powerful and balanced relationship with Sri Lanka, which would be beneficial to the peoples of both countries, foster reconciliation between communities and strengthen economic and trade relationships between UK and Sri Lanka. 

Conservative Friends of Sri Lanka advocates that you vote for the Conservative Party candidate in your constituency, to elect a Conservative Government with a strong majority so that it may deal with many challenging issues in Britain’s best interests and enable Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take this country forward to greater prosperity and success as UK leaves the EU.