SIKHS from across the north of England came to Huddersfield to hear former foreign secretary David Miliband talk about Afghanistan.
He spoke on issues including the Afghan war and Iran’s nuclear weapons programme as well as piracy and terrorism around the Horn of Africa.
And he paid tribute to Huddersfield soldier Lance Cpl Graham Shaw who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this year.
The election campaign event was organised by the Sikh Cultural Society for the North and held at the Sikh Leisure Centre in Springwood.
Mr Miliband, the Labour candidate for South Shields, Tyneside, said: “It would be the easy thing in meetings like this not to mention Afghanistan, but it would be disrespectful not to mention that to you.
“If Pakistan and Afghanistan are not stable it is hard for Britain to be stable as well.
“As well as fighting this election on domestic issues, we are fighting for a progressive international community.”
Mr Miliband also offered tribute to families who have lost loved ones in the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts.
Golcar man Lance Cpl Shaw was killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in February.
He said: “The whole country thanks you for the sacrifice that your son or daughter has made and grieves with you.
“The work your son or daughter was doing was of remarkable quality and has made a huge difference. They are making a real difference and should know they have contributed to a campaign that is vital to keep us safe.”
So what did the public make of Mr Miliband’s speech?
Yuvraj Singh, 35, of Bailiff Bridge, said: “It was good but he was in a bit of a hurry. The community members wanted to ask questions but because he’s on a schedule they couldn’t.
“For the Sikh community I think Labour represents them best. I’ve had a bad experience with the Tories so I’ve already voted by post.”
Dr Nasim Hasnie, of Paddock, added: “I think it was a good speech with appropriate questions. I think he has a good understanding of the issues not only in the Asian sub-continent but all over Africa, and piracy, so he’s quite good and focused.”
Earlier he went Moor End Technology College to talk about community cohesion.
More than 50% of students at the school are from a Pakistani background and children from more than 80 different nationalities study there.
But unfortunately only one of the 19 youngsters invited to meet him had heard of him.
But some said they had been learning about politics in their GCSE citizenship class.
Year 10 student Theo Johnson said he’d never been into politics and probably wouldn’t vote even if he was 18.
“I don’t think it would make a difference,” he said.
But classmate Alice Coates, 15, said it was a privilege to host the top Labour man in their school.
She added: “We’ve been learning about Labour and the Conservatives and we wrote a letter to our MP Barry Sheerman.”
Mr Miliband – who was joined by former Home and Education Secretary David Blunkett and Labour party candidate Debbie Abrahams – said he wanted to hear about what was “going right” at the college and what people would like to see in the Colne Valley.
Mr Miliband told the youngsters: “You’re not a trial here. We’re not here to tell 13-year-olds how to vote.”
Mr Miliband also visited politics students at Huddersfield University’s Creative Arts Building and international students at the International Study Centre.