PM's speech at Diwali Reception

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Transcript of speech given by the Prime Minister at a Diwali reception held at Downing Street on 16 November 2010.

Prime Minister:

First of all, welcome you all to Number 10, Downing Street.  This is the second Diwali Reception that’s been held in Number 10, Downing Street and I hope it is the second of many.  I think this a great festival to celebrate.  It’s a little known fact, but actually the Diwali celebrations in Leicester are the second largest in the world outside India.  (Cheer from section of guests) Ah, Leicester, they’re here, right!  Well, it’s great to have you here and I think Diwali with all its references to friendship, to family, to fellowship - I think it’s something the whole country can celebrate, and it gives me great pleasure as Prime Minister to be involved in this celebration and to welcome you here.

I think as well as celebrating Diwali, which is so important to British Hindus, British Sikhs, British Jains, I think we should also recognise the enormous contribution that your community makes to our country.  I just look around this room and I can see we seem to have - half the Air Force are here.  I know we’ve got stars of sport - great cricketers here.  I know that we’ve got great Parliamentarians - I can see Keith Vaz, I can see Priti Patel.  We have people who’ve done amazing things in terms of entrepreneurialism and business.  We also have people who’ve made a huge contribution to the artistic and cultural life of our country.  I think when we look at what British Hindus, British Indians have contributed to our country in every single sphere they have excelled and we should celebrate that here in this room tonight for all that you contribute to our country.  Thank you.

Prime Minister:

Education, also health care we could mention - I could go on all night, but the point is a good one.  So I want to say a very warm welcome, a very big thank you and, above all, a very happy Diwali.  I’m going to get this wrong, but I think it is Shubh Diwali.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Enjoy.

Now, the High Commissioner and I are going to light some candles.

Indian High Commissioner:

Prime Minister, you are the head of this household, and traditionally you must light the first lamp.  And the light symbolises the victory of good over evil, it symbolises the victory of hope, it symbolises the victory of perseverance, and I think it is a sign of prosperity in the year ahead.  So may this New Year bring prosperity to all of us, and may you succeed in your endeavours.

Mr Prime Minister, Mrs Cameron, on behalf of the community and on my own behalf, a very, very happy Diwali - may this New Year bring you peace, prosperity and joy, and may we all succeed in overcoming all obstacles.  God bless you all.

Prime Minister:

Thank you very much indeed.