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 email@example.com, 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’.
I have had a busy year and am now looking forward to spending time with my family over the festive season. In April I was confirmed as one of the six new european candidates for the Labour party and the elections are only six months away now. I have enjoyed meeting Labour party members and talking to the public all across London about the campaign. Next year the campaign steps up a gear as I will be working really hard to ensure that the Labour party double the number of MEP’s in the European parliament and increase the number of Labour councillors across London. I will also be speaking at a number of events about the up-coming elections, you can find out where I’ll be on my out and about page.
I had a really useful time visiting the Council of Europe and European parliament in Strasbourg this month. I attended the plenary session and saw where women’s rights were voted down by Conservative and right wing MEP’s. I also attended the civil liberties committee, where Claude Moraes MEP is leading an inquiry into the sharing of our personal data in the USA. I attended two events with the Europeans lobby whilst I was there, one about how we can take stronger action against rape and one to watch a film screening about the experiences of migrant women across Europe. I had a catch up with my mentor, Mojca Kleva MEP and am looking forward to helping her with her re-election campaign in Slovenia in April and she will also return the favour and help me campaign here in London also. I also plan to visit the European parliament again in Brussels a number of times next year, to continue to learn more about the role of MEP’s in parliament.
I was delighted to find out that I have been shortlisted for a grassroot diplomat award for my work in equality and diversity. You can find out more about the awards here.
Seasons greetings to you and yours.
Me and my mentor Mojca Kleva MEP, discussing the importance of the European Women’s lobby mentoring project in the European parliament in Strasbourg. You can find out more about the project here.
I am looking forward to attending the final plenary session of 2013 of the European parliament in Strasbourg from the 9-11th. This will give me an opportunity to see how plenary sessions operate and how MEP’s vote on important issues. I will also have a catch up with my mentor in the European parliament, Mojca Kleva MEP about the life of an MEP and how she balances work and family commitments. I am being sponsored by the European Women’s lobby to attend as part of their European mentoring project which you can find out more about here.
During my time in Strasbourg I will be attending two events. The European Women’s Lobby will be hosting an event: “Promote Human Rights, Act against Rape!” that will take place on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day 10 December. This will be an opportunity to reassert that women’s rights are human rights and bring to the attention of members of the European Parliament that rape is a persistent violation of women’s rights, while demanding justice and support for victims of rape. I will also be attending the screening of a film called, This is My Home Now, which follows the stories of three migrant women living in Europe.
I have been busy over the past couple of weeks, attending a joint health overview and scrutiny session with Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Waltham Forest and Redbridge about the proposed changes to cancer services across East London. The proposal from NHS England, is to reduce the number of sites where certain specialist interventions are carried out. I stated that I did not have anything against the proposal in principle, but was concerned about increased journey time for my residents. I attended fundraising dinners in Romford, Brent, Barking and Newham to raise much needed funds for the European and local elections in May 2014.
I attended a consultation meeting hoisted by BAME on the new race equality strategy strategy the Labour party recently launched. Keith Vaz MP and Sharon Hodgson MP attended as well as Jennette Arnold AM and Simon Wooley from Operation Black vote. On 23 October 2013, the Labour Party launched a consultation on its race equality strategy. Realising One Nation: Developing a new race equality strategy for Labour is a consultation designed to kick start the process of developing the strategy, ideas and policies that will help a future Labour government to take down the barriers that exist for black and ethnic minority people in our economy, society and politics. Submissions are welcomed from individuals and organisations.
I am a committee member of the Labour Movement for Europe as well as the GMB Womens committee and both had meetings which I attended and fed into, where an exciting program of work is being developed by both for 2014. I attended a campaign briefing session for all European candidates across the UK, which was held in Euston, where we heard from Douglas Alexander MP, Glennis Wilmot MEP and Iain McNichol about the exciting plans for the European campaign strategy. I am looking forward to attending the London Labour summit later this month, where we hear more about the campaign strategy for London local elections and the general elections.
I have been continuously campaigning on the doorstep for Labour for the upcoming European and local elections which are only six months away now. I attended sessions in Forest Gate with London Young Labour, Croydon and a session in Redbridge with Mikes Gapes MP. There was a positive response on the doorstep for Labour in all areas.
The challenges that we face in London in relation to health are also problems that face Europe as a whole. In order to tackle these challenges head on, we need to work together with the member states so that we can find solutions to the common problems we face and reduce health inequalities all across Europe, as well as create a more cohesive approach to developing policy to address these. Read my article on the 2020 health website about why being part of the European Union is better for health outcomes here.