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I was delighted to find out at the end of Black history month 2019, that I had been named as one of the UKs 50 most inspirational Black women in the UK by African Glitz
Celebrating the work of black women working at grass-roots levels, the dynamic list carries names of women who are not often portrayed in mainstream media but whose contribution to various black communities in the UK is very visible.
I combine a strong political career with being a mentor and am passionate about helping those with disabilities and endometriosis – I was diagnosed in 2010 with severe endometriosis. Former civic mayor of the London borough of Barking and Dagenham, I have been a Labour councillor for the borough since May 2010 and the first of three black women to be elected there, and as deputy leader of the UK delegation to European Committee of the Regions in Brussels, I am the first BME person to be in the leadership team.
I am humbled to be honored in this way and it just spurs me on to keep doing what I do.
My book has been launched! Please click on ‘my book’ at the top of this website page to find out more and how to purchase a copy.
It’s been over a month since the local and European elections in the UK and an opportune time to reflect on the results and how this bodes for Labour’s success in the general election in less than a year’s time.
I was privileged to be one of the MEP candidates for the London region for Labour and spent the past year campaigning with the London Labour across the region. The memories of meeting with party members and talking to voters across the capital is one’s I will never forget. Whilst campaigning with Labour party members, I was frequently asked my predictions for which party would win the Euro elections in the UK overall. It became clearer to me, especially during the short campaign where I worked full time on the campaign during the last month that Labour would have good results in London but that UKIP would beat us nationally and so I stated as such. The media coverage that was given to Nigel Farage and the euro-scepticism that was in the air all boosted his campaign. Turnout was disappointingly low at 36%. Labour did exceptionally well in London and we had good results in the West Midlands, North West and North East. However it was a disappointment that we did not pick up more than one seat in the largest region in the South East, East of England, East Midlands or Wales. Gaining these seats would have ensured Labour’s win in both the Euro and local elections last month and given a strong boost for the campaign next year.
The European parliament has an opportunity going forward to strengthen its legitimacy and develop more openness and transparency in how its primary institutions the European Council and Commission operate. Labour MEP’s will need to work hard to counter the Eurosceptic groups in the parliament and reach out to its constituents about the work they do and how it makes a difference to ordinary people’s lives. This will certainly be easier in London where Labour now has half the MEP’s.
Labour’s results were the best since 1971 and in order to win next year, the target seats in London should get the necessary support from the London Labour party and its local activists, as it’s here that we are most likely to gain the seats needed to have Ed Miliband as our prime minister next year. Labour had 37% of the vote in London, gained 203 new councillors, controls 20 out of the 32 London boroughs and is now in control of the Local Government Association for the first time in a decade. In Barking and Dagenham, where I re-stood as a councillor, even I was a little surprised that we took all 51 seats of the council again, as we did in 2010. We have been a strong campaigning force and realised after winning in 2010, that there was no room for complacency. We kept our Labour doorstep sessions every two weeks, which allowed us to keep that connection with our voters, hear their concerns and deal with them over the past four years, which gave the Barking Labour party a credible record of listening and acting on the priorities that mattered to our residents.
Labour needs to talk about the issues that will resonate with people including, jibs, growth and wage freezes. They also need to tackle the difficult issues such as immigration, but in the grounding that diversity is a source of our strength to us as a nation and with solutions to tackle the Labour makes effects of increased pressures on housing and school places. Labour can win just after one term out of power, if we keep working hard on the doorstep and show that we take a real interest into finding sustainable solutions that will make a real difference to people’s lives.
Well the European and local elections are now over and I have had a little time to rest. I was disappointed not to win a seat in the European elections, but delighted that I was part of a fantastic London Labour party campaign machine, where I was able to contribute to a triumphant result in London. The Labour party gained two extra MEP’s, with a swing of over 15% to become the first party in London. Congratulations to Claude Moraes, Mary Honeyball, Lucy Anderson and Seb Dance who will now represent us in the European Parliament. I will always treasure our memories on the campaign trail over the past year. Thank you to all my supporters, well wishers, family and friends. Without your support I could not have got through the hectic schedule that being a European candidate brings.
Labour also increased its share of the vote in all the other UK regions in the European elections and are now also the largest party in the local government association (LGA), which is fantastic news.
I stood for re-election in Barking and Dagenham and was delighted when the residents of Alibon ward voted for me to serve them for another four years. UKIP stood candidates in each ward in the borough but we saw them off just as we saw off the BNP in 2010 with a further 5% swing to Labour. I look forward to working hard in my ward and with my fellow councillors across the borough, during these tough times to make it a better place to live and work for everyone.
The countdown begins, only four days to go until the local and European elections on Thursday 22nd May. Please ensure you vote on Thursday as it’s your way of getting your voice heard for who will represent you in your local councils and European parliament. Last week I was very busy on the campaign trail with the London Labour European team in Haringey, Waltham Forest, Islington, Southwark, Lambeth, London School of Economics, Westminster, Tower Hamlets and Battersea as well as meeting with Andy Burnham MP to talk about the damaging changes to the NHS this Tory led government is imposing on us. I also represented the Labour party at the European Parliamentary debating event at London Sivan Kovil Trust – a leading Hindu community organization in Lewisham.
This the final week of the European campaign trail, I will be campaigning in Lewisham, Lambeth, Dulwich and West Norwood, various parts of West London and Barking, Newham and Tower Hamlets. If you wish to join in on any of the sessions then do drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org, I would be delighted to see you.
I was thrilled last week when I won a Grassroot Diplomat Initiative award under the Policy Driver category for my long-standing work on equalities and diversity issues, which still has a long way to go for improvement. Minority women are still underrepresented in the field of politics, maths, engineering and science . The awards were hosted by TV Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos. In partnership with The May Fair Hotel, the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Awards recognises the achievements of UK-based diplomats and politicians who are representing civilian interests at the highest level in areas of policy, social and business.
1 Glynnis Kinnock MEP Fundraiser
5 Campaigning in Dulwich and West Norwood
3 MEP Candidate hustings hosted by the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO) at Europe House, London from 2pm-5pm.
4 Kings College Labour students society debate on Europe and interview on Colourful radio
5 Ilford North and Milton Keynes South fundraiser
7 Brent Central fundraiser
15 Three seats campaign day, Tower Hamlets, Barking and Dagenham and Rainham
21 Hornchurch and Upminster fundraiser
22 European campaign day in Newham
25 Launch of the Labour Black Network, Portcullis House
26 Guest speaker at the Leyton and Wanstead fundraiser
27 Guest speaker at the West Ham Labour party meeting
28 Ealing Labour European fundraiser
29 Campaigning in Twickenham
4 London Labour pub quiz
6 Campaigning in Tower Hamlets with John Biggs AM and mayoral candidate
11 John Biggs fundraiser, Tayyabs restaurant in Whitechapel
16-19 Visit to the European parliament in Brussels and speaking at ‘My MEP is just like me, Gender Equality and Diversity in European Political Life’ on the 18th, Hosted by MEP Claude Moraes, European Parliament A3G2
25 Brunel University politics society European debate
After two rounds of the Clegg vs Farage European debate, I am inviting all women to come and hear a positive debate about how the European Union has benefitted women. This will take place at the GMB Offices, Euston, and you can find out more about the event here.
I was on BBC Radio London last week Sunday 30th March, taking part in their Europe debate on the weekly Dotun Adebayo show. You can listen to it here
I recently wrote an article about how the welfare reforms are having an impact on mental health and well-being and you can read the article on the 2020health website.
I will be campaigning with Eddie Izzard on the 15, 16 and 18 April with a European fundraiser with him on the evening of the 16th.
I have spoken at two debates about Europe this month, one hosted by the Havering Fabian Society and one by the London School of Economics, Labour and Cooperative society. I think these debates are healthy and many more of them should be organised. I am a pro-european, but think we should have discussions about how we can reform Europe to make it work better for ordinary hard working Londoners. I addressed the Redbridge Young Labour AGM about the importance of young people and Europe and the Romford Labour party and the Enfield Labour womens forum about the importance of the European elections.
I have been invited to a MEP candidate hustings being held by The National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO) in March. The hustings will be attended by a diverse range of young women (16-25 years old) from across the United Kingdom. The young women will be part of a project funded by the Directorate General for Communications of the European Parliament that will be facilitated by NAWO. Through working to create a manifesto of demands that reflect their needs and aspirations, in addition to direct contact with MEP candidates and increased engagement with the work of European Parliament the young women will be encouraged to use their vote in the upcoming elections of May 2014.
I will be heading back to the European Parliament next month, to continue my capacity building sessions with the European Women’s Lobby, European mentoring project where I shall be receiving training on communication skills. I will also have a catch up with me mentor, Mojca Kleva MEP since she had her baby and find out more about how she is juggling motherhood and politics. I will finalise arrangements for her to come and help me campaign here in London and for me to return the favour in her country, Slovenia. I will be a guest speaker at an event the European Women’s lobby is organising at the European parliament on the 18th February, hosted by Claude Moraes MEP called ‘My MEP is just like me, Gender Equality and Diversity in European Political Life’.
Today I joined in with the last leg of the three seats Labour challenge and campaigned on the doorstep with over 30 Labour party members and activists in Ilford North, Redbridge with the parliamentary candidate, Wes Streeting. The challenge went off to a flying start yesterday, with teams going out and campaigning in Brighton and Hove and Crawley, with over 1,500 contacts being made over the whole weekend. The challenge will continue over the coming months, with a number of fun road trips being organised, to help campaign for three Labour candidates in a weekend in key target seats. You can keep up to date with the campaign sessions being organised via their twitter account @lab3seats #lab3seats. I will be out on the Labour doorstep again on thursday with London MP’s, AM’s and MEP candidates in Finchley and Golders Green wirth the parliamentary candidate, Sarah Sackman.
I had a nice break over the festive season, but now it’s back to work with only four and a half months left until the local council and European elections on May 22nd. This week I will be attending the North East London, Joint health overview and scrutiny committee, where we will be discussing how Barking, Havering and Redbridge Trust deal with major emergency incidents, changes to cancer and cardiovascular services, where I have been raising issues about increased transport costs and travel times, the experiences of patients at Barts Health NHS Trust and an update on the NHS 111 service, which has been receiving complaints since it took over the NHS direct service.
I have my councillors surgery on wednesday from 7-8pm so if you have any issues or concerns do feel free to drop by and then i’ll be heading off to the Redbridge Young Labour AGM to speak about why Europe should be on young people’s agenda. A recent ICM poll showed that young people understand that leaving Europe, would jeopardise your job prospects at home and abroad.