News & Events
The Rt Hon. Prime Minister David Cameron MP visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 2 May 2015 in the run up to the general elections.
Below is a transcript of the speech he delivered to the assembly after visiting the upper sanctum and before meeting several of the worshippers.
This is the third time I’ve been to Neasden Mandir, and I want to thank you for the warmth and kindness you have always shown Samantha and me when we’ve visited.
Thank you for all your help in organising the Diwali receptions I’ve held at Downing Street these past five years, and particularly for the fantastic food and delicacies you’ve provided. I like to think I’m pretty good in the kitchen, but I certainly couldn’t have managed that myself.
And I want to send my good wishes to His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. I wish him the very best of health.
It’s great to be here. It’s always great to be here. I go around the country, I see our iconic buildings and statues – Stonehenge, the Angel of the North, Big Ben. And I’ll tell you what: Neasden Mandir is one of them; one of our great British landmarks. The first traditional Hindu temple built in Europe wasn’t in Germany, or France, or Spain. It was here in Britain – right here in Neasden – and I’m so proud of that.
I know this is a big year for you – the temple’s 20th anniversary. I think of everything that went into creating it: the 3000 tonnes of Bulgarian limestone, the 1200 tonnes of Italian marble, the 1500 sculptors in India, the countless hours of volunteering by young and old. It really was a labour of love – and it really is a thing of beauty, a marvel. And I know the celebrations here this summer will be equally spectacular. The swamis and trustees here certainly know how to organise the best show in town.
You know, I come here, and there’s a lot that stands out – the dedication of the volunteers, the music, the dance and language classes, the sheer size of the congregation. But for me what stands out most is this: the values. British Hindu values. If we want to make Britain better, we could do a lot worse than taking Hinduism as an inspiration.
I think of one of the Hindu goals of life, “dharma” – duty and right conduct. I see it around the country – in the fundraising you do for charities, like the Nepal Earthquake Appeal, which you’ve already responded to in such a big way; in the work you do as doctors, teachers, police, throughout our public services; in your communities – always looking out for one another, always putting family first; in our Government – with the work of excellent Ministers like Priti Patel; and in the vast contribution the Gujarati community makes to Britain. That’s something we can heed in Government and throughout public life. And I believe we are. Every single day we say “we will do our duty by those who need us”.
We’ll make the difficult decisions so we can increase the budget of the health service that cares for so many of us. We’ll continue driving up standards in education, and opening brilliant new schools – because we believe in giving children the tools they need to get on in life. We’ll commit to cutting taxes for the lowest paid – and in this Parliament we’ve taken three million people out of income tax altogether. We’ll make sure we protect our elderly – increasing their State Pension by a decent amount each year and protecting their Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes, TV licences and prescriptions.
All these things have one aim: to give you security at every stage of your life. And we can only do them because, like you, we believe you’ve got to be careful with money, and strong economic foundations are fundamental to everything.
But I’m not just in politics to make the numbers on the graph go in the right direction. I’ve got big ambitions for Britain, for everyone in this country. Last week I launched my 2020 vision – ambitions for Britain’s diverse communities over the next five years. For people from ethnic minorities – 20 per cent more jobs; 20 per cent more students; a 20 per cent increase in apprenticeship take-up; 20,000 Start-Up Loans for new businesses; 20 per cent of new recruits in the police, and on our way to 20 per cent in the Army too; and for our party, 20 per cent of candidates in retirement seats. That’s my 2020 vision.
It comes back to a clear belief that Britain will only be the best it can be if its people are all they can be.
I know that in these areas – in student numbers, in jobs, in apprenticeships, in Parliamentary seats – it will be the British Hindu community that leads the way. And I know that leadership will start right here in Neasden. So they’re my big ambitions for Britain.
But I want to end by sharing some personal ambitions with you. I want to visit some of the temples you are building in America. I want to see your iconic Akshardham monument in Delhi – I haven’t got round to visiting yet, but I will definitely make it there. I want to welcome Prime Minister Modi to Britain at the earliest opportunity. And yes – I met him in Brisbane, I was proud to be one of the first leaders to congratulate him. And I know how pleased you are to see a dynamic Prime Minister taking India forwards.
But I have an ambition that is more imminent. That can be fulfilled in five days. We have ahead of us the most important election in a generation. On it rests the future of everyone in this country. It’s the difference between carrying on building a strong economy – or letting all our hard work and sacrifices go to waste. Seeing our schools continue to be transformed – or letting them slide back. Backing businesses so they can create millions more jobs – or putting all of them at risk. Having the money we need to cut taxes, protect our NHS, provide free childcare – or putting them all in danger. That’s the difference between a Conservative Government and a Labour Government – and it would be felt by every community in our country.
So this is my ambition: in five days, Phir Ek Bar Cameron Sarkaar. And you can help deliver it, by voting for the excellent candidates we’ve got here today: Bob Blackman, Hannah David, Matthew Offord, Alan Mendoza.
So once again, thank you for having me. Thank you for everything you do to make Britain great.