30 Years
HomePraful Patel
Praful Patel

Praful Patel has been one of Britain's most dedicated workers for the protection of minority rights. He acted as an advocate for minorities who were wrongly being denied access to Britain by this country's unjust immigration laws. He handled some 300-400 cases a year, in a voluntary advisory service built up since he played a crucial role in protecting and assisting the British Asian communities in East Africa.

He has been active at all levels in the Labour Party, from ward secretary and delegate to the GMC, to parliamentary candidate in Brent North in 1987. He was a vigorous and hard working candidate in an unwinnable seat. Pete Toms, his former agent, pays tribute to his organising skills and energy. Together they ran an effective election campaign which raised Labour's share of the vote by more than 2 per cent, even though the Labour vote was falling generally all over London. He also did much to help fellow candidates Ken Livingstone and Paul Boateng win over the minority Asian communities in the other two Brent constituencies.


Praful Patel joined the Labour Party in 1958 when he arrived in Britain as a young man committed to colonial freedom and nuclear disarmament (he was one of the first Aldermaston marchers). Since then he has helped organise, canvass and mobilize support for Labour candidates in many local and parliamentary elections. He was born in Uganda where he founded the Ugandan Students Union and was Uganda's representative at the first International Youth Assembly in Delhi. He actively campaigned for self-rule prior to independence. In 1968, he resigned from the party to help lead the opposition to Callaghan's racist Kenyan Asians Bill. Then, and especially following the Ugandan Asian crisis in 1972, he became involved at an individual level, helping thousands of families to mend separated and broken lives. He served on the Ugandan Resettlement Board and the UK Immigrants Advisory Service. After Labour revised its policies, Praful rejoined the party in 1976.

In 1988, he was a founding signatory of Charter 88 and was co-opted onto the Charter's first Council. He was recently on the UK delegation to the first Indo-British seminar on human rights and democracy in New Delhi, as a specialist on immigration and race relations issues.

Praful Patel

Today, Praful Patel is in a unique position to further the links between a progressive Labour party - and government - and the Asian communities throughout the world that make up a valuable and cosmopolitan bridge between north and south. In his personal capacity, Praful Patel has organised visits to India for Labour representatives, including Neil and Gladys Kinnock, to recreate and renew the historic connections between the socialist movements of both countries.

'Fortress Europe'

He is a passionate advocate of co-operative, balanced development and the exchange of know­-how between north and south, with an emphasis on assisting poorer nations to create their own economies rather than remaining recipients of western aid-and-trade policies that can badly unbalance the local economy and damage the environment of the poorer nations.

His big fear is that the European Union will develop into a 'Fortress Europe' which restricts trade in its own interests instead of becoming a progressive, outward-looking force in the new world order, promoting investments and technology transfer. He has developed his own programme for progressive links between Britain-in-Europe and the south.

Praful writes for the press and takes part in television and radio broadcasts on the economic and social interests of developing countries and race relations in Britain.

In Person

Praful Patel is a secular Hindu - a committed vegetarian, teetotaller and non-smoker. He plays a vigorous role in the religious, cultural and charitable life of his own faith. For example, during the 1980s he produced an ambitious dance-drama, 'Nritya Natika Ramayana', with a cast of young Britons of all races, which toured India and Britain. The Prince of Wales attended the British charity premier. Ben Kingsley spoke the English commentary for the video of the show. Praful is also a close adviser for the international Swaminarayan Fellowship and its spiritual leader, His Holiness Shri Pramukh Swami Maharaj, with whose blessings he has actively promoted inter­faith dialogue and understanding.

Praful is a member of the Fabian Society, War on Want, Liberty and Amnesty International. He is also a regular contributor to Charter 88 and Greenpeace. Since 1991 he is a trustee of the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF). He is a former member of the DHSS Working Party on Asian Health and governor of the City Litt College.