Lovely to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon with local Labour members playing rounders and enjoying a picnic.
On polling day, I joined Labour Party candidates standing for council seats in Dover, Medway and Gravesham. Across the country, Labour won more than 600 local council seats in Stoke-on-Trent, Plymouth, Dover, Medway, and many other areas that we will need to win, if we are to form a Labour majority at the next General Election.
Talking to voters in these seats, it's clear that people right across the country have turned their back on the Conservatives, looking to Labour to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, tackle NHS waiting lists, and improving safety in our communities.
The road to Labour in Government runs through our local councils, and I am hopeful this local victory will be the springboard to Labour’s general election victory.
Labour will revolutionise mental health treatment – putting prevention front and centre.
If ever there was an argument that prevention is better than cure, it is with mental health.
We know that the longer mental illnesses are left untreated, the harder and more costly they are to treat.
This mental health crisis is wrecking the British economy.
Last year, 18 million work days were lost to mental illness - more than industrial disputes, more than injuries.
It costs the UK economy at least £117 billion a year.
And who does the cost-of-living crisis hit the hardest? Those already living with mental illnesses.
The next Labour Government will guarantee treatment within a month, recruit 8,500 new staff, put a specialist in every school and a hub in every community.
Labour will transform our mental health services:
Prevention as our watchword.
Better mental health for all.
Watch my full speech here:
It is an honour to have been unanimously re-selected by all the local party branches and affiliated organisations to stand as Labour’s candidate for Tooting in the next general election.
I want to say a huge thank you to all the members and affiliates who took part, and who continue to put their trust in me to represent our community.
Serving as the Member of Parliament for the community I grew up in is an honour. From helping local residents with casework, playing a part in winning the council, defending our NHS and serving as the shadow Minister to Mental Health - I have the best job in the world. My job is made even greater by the fantastic support local members show me all year round, so I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to them all!
The next election is make-or-break for our party, we simply must win. I’m looking forward to working hard to make this happen.
The NHS is being dismantled, I see it every time I work a shift. More people than ever are relying on foodbanks, and the cost-of-living crisis is having a devastating impact on people locally and across the country. I will be absolutely committed to doing everything I can to put Labour into Government and make the changes this country so desperately needs.
Thank you again to everyone who voted.
Fresh off the back of our trip to South Wales yesterday, Luke Pollard MP and I continued to take the fight to the Tories today, this time in Reading.
We kicked off the day with a doorknocking session in Reading West, another Tory-held marginal seat where it is essential Labour wins at the next general election. We were delighted to be joined by my colleague, Matt Rodda, MP for Reading East, who took us to a community-run cafe to show the empowering work that local people are doing on a daily basis.
Reading is a great example of what Labour can do in power - the town's carbon emissions have been reduced by 70% in the last 12 years and the Council is currently investing £88 million in over 300 new social housing homes across Reading.
Today, my friend Luke Pollard MP and I visited the lush landscape of South Wales in order to continue our fight to put Keir Starmer in 10 Downing Street.
We visited Barry Island (cue many Gavin and Stacey references!) in the Vale of Glamorgan seat and Chepstow in Monmouth - two vitally important areas that Labour needs to win to form a government. Labour took control of both Vale of Glamorgan & Monmouthshire Councils after the May elections and I greatly enjoyed campaigning with local members, building on that momentum in order to elect two new Labour MPs at the next election.
Of course, a trip to Barry Island would not be complete without a wander down the beautiful seafront, complete with ice cream. Lloniannau!
Even before the pandemic hit, the case for investing in this kind of support was clear. Coronavirus has exacerbated the existing crisis in mental health. Many NHS and social care staff have been scared of going to work, and they have lost patients and colleagues. It has been heartbreaking to witness the toll this virus has taken on staff mental health.
Current support is not good enough, and without a tailored, fast-tracked service for staff who have faced death and despair every day for over three months, our frontline heroes will continue to be failed. We need to care for our carers. It is time for the Government to give back to those who have sacrificed so much to keep our loved ones safe. Unless our staff are protected, they cannot continue their vital work of keeping us all safe.
Rosena Allin-Khan MP: "I want to inspire Asians to own their identity”A CANDIDATE in the race for Labour’s deputy leadership has admitted the party “lost trust with voters” following its crushing defeat in the December general election.
Tooting MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan is up against fellow MPs Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler, Ian Murray and Angela Rayner in the race, triggered by Labour’s huge loss last year.
Suffering one of its worst results since 1935, Labour lost dozens of seats which they had held for decades, including a number of constituencies in the Midlands and northern England, which historically tended to support the party.
The loss was down to a lack of trust, Allin- Khan believes. “People, quite frankly, didn’t trust us to govern,” the MP told Eastern Eye. “We had a manifesto which I believe was full of good things, but voters didn’t trust us to deliver it.”
The party’s stance on Brexit was an additional factor – “we didn’t seem decisive enough” – and the level of anti-Semitism in the party and the way it was subsequently handled “closed a lot of doors”.
“I’ve been up and down the country talking to individuals, wondering why Labour lost, and I’ve been told by activists that people didn’t think we had our own house in order,” she said.
Today, she said, the most common concern of voters is the NHS, the level of safety on the streets and housing. “We need to show that the hopes and dreams that people have for themselves are the ones that we (Labour) have for them,” the mother-of-two said.
Next month’s contest will also see the unveiling of a new Labour leader, after Jeremy Corbyn announced he would be stepping down following the general election last year. Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey are in the running to lead the opposition party.
Allin-Khan, however, will not be voicing her support for any of the candidates as she believes the party needs to “heal all divisions (and) unite” after it fared so badly in the election.
“When I’m working in A&E and I see kids coming in with lung infections because of mouldy housing or I see kids who have to go to food banks (…) they don’t care if Labour is left, right or centre,” she explained. “So, the most important thing to move forward is to unite and I can show that by not nominating someone for leader.”
On her role in the deputy leadership race, Allin-Khan said she was determined to use it as an opportunity to help “ethnic minorities own their identity and be proud of it”. “That is what I want people to feel I embody when they look at me,” she explained. “For me, being in this race, if that is the one thing I get out of this…that other young British Asians can look at me and say, ‘if she can do it, I can do it too’, then that is my job done.”
Allin-Khan admitted she had faced prejudice due to her mixed Pakistani-Polish heritage and has received criticism that she “isn’t fully Asian”. In response to the comments, the MP is keen to highlight her mixed heritage does not make her Asian background any less “important, valuable or special.”
“I identify with being an Asian woman, in the same way that I am proud to be Polish,” she said. “Some people in the Asian community wonder how Asian I feel because I’m mixed race, but I’m proud to wear my sari and embrace my heritage.”
Some have even suggested that she change her forename to Rosie and take her husband’s surname to downplay her ethnicity. However, Allin-Khan is proud of her roots and is keen to emphasise it.
“I went double barrelled because I didn’t want to lose the Asian part of my surname and that for me, is very important,” she said. “I am proud to say that this is who I am – a Polish and Pakistani, proudly British Muslim woman who loves the Labour party.”
Born and brought up in Tooting in a working-class household, Allin-Khan described her young life as “tough”. Her mother worked three jobs to keep the family financially afloat, and Allin-Khan recalled there only being one heater in the house that they had to move from room to room to keep themselves warm.
Allin-Khan failed her A-Levels, citing the difficulties at home as a factor. Despite the setbacks, she still had a desire to study medicine. However, she was told “it wasn’t for girls like (her)”, as it was financially prohibitive, and she didn’t come from the “right background”.
Allin-Khan, who still works part-time as a doctor, knew she had to keep fighting if she wanted to pursue her dream career. “I think my upbringing led me to believe I had no choice but to sink or swim,” she said.
After resitting her A-Levels, the then-24-year-old accepted a place to study medicine at Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge, which was funded by scholarships. “I really believe that where you start off in life doesn’t need to dictate where you end up,” the A&E doctor said.
Although she credited her own resilience for her success, Allin-Khan believes the Labour government gave her an opportunity to fulfil her potential when things looked bleak. “The Labour government turned my life around,” the 43-year-old claimed. “I redid my A-Levels, did a degree and went to Cambridge to study medicine and I’m afraid those possibilities aren’t going to be there for a new generation of kids under this Tory government.”
Allin-Khan, the MP for Tooting since 2016, admitted the biggest challenge of her involvement in politics is racism. She often faces abuse on social media and is mostly targeted for her Muslim beliefs.
“When I look at the order in which my abuse comes, it is Muslim first, then my Asian heritage comes second,” she admitted. “My gender is third. Without a doubt, the amount of abuse is a huge challenge.”
It is a concern that young BAME women may be deterred from entering politics due to the abuse other politicians have faced, she said. In response, Allin-Khan regularly engages with schools and community groups to encourage young people to “keep going and not to lose faith”.
There is also a level of racism in the House of Commons, she said, highlighting that she is the first Muslim person ever to make it on to the deputy leadership ballot. Although it is encouraging to see more women and ethnic minority politicians in parliament, Allin-Khan believes there is “still a ceiling on what we can achieve”.
Recently, Allin-Khan approached a “prominent BAME politician” to ask them to consider nominating her in the deputy leadership contest. However, the politician responded: “I’m only in the game of backing winners and you don’t look like you’ve got any chance of winning.”
“We can’t have that attitude towards people, and I’ve said in my grassroots revival plan that our BAME communities can’t be an afterthought when it comes to supporting people to hold public office,” she said. “We need to be seeing ethnic minorities at the top of our party, on the front benches.
“I’ve smashed that ceiling, but I plan to throw the ladder down and say people ‘come up behind, you can do this.’ But I know it isn’t easy.”
My pledge to rebuild confidence in LabourI never imagined that one day I’d become an MP, or now a candidate to become the next Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Growing up, I was regularly told that ‘girls like me’ from ‘backgrounds like mine’ wouldn’t amount to anything. I never planned to go into politics - I always wanted to be a doctor. The last Labour Government gave me that chance, allowing me to study Medicine aged 24 after failing my A-Levels the first time around because of pressures at home. This shaped the person that I am today and has given me the fire in my belly to ensure that no other child feels that there is a ceiling on what they can achieve.
When I work shifts as an A&E doctor at my local hospital, I see first-hand the issues facing our communities today. I treat young people who come to A&E after self-harming, I treat those who haven’t been able to access mental health services for years, and yes, I treat victims of violent crime.
To see a young person breathe their last breath is a pain that never leaves you. Teenage boys, once full of bravado on the street, with the words “Born to die” tattooed on their chests, victims of horrific stab wounds, laying there crying out for their mothers. The sound of a parent grieving for their child is universal - it can’t be forgotten.
As the MP for Tooting, I have worked incredibly closely with community groups and young people to try and tackle the rise of violent crime in our society. I’ve organised summits with representatives from local community organisations, charities, the police, the Chief Executive of Wandsworth Council and the Deputy Mayor for Policing, to start tackling this problem from a community perspective. Working with affected communities is paramount in order to resolve these critical issues once and for all.
As a keen boxer myself, I have promoted the work of local boxing clubs to tackle violent crime. Boxing is far more than just a sport - for many, it’s family. Clubs offer an opportunity for local young ¬people to make friends, engage with sport and receive mentorship. So much of gang culture and violence is about a sense of belonging. We have a duty to show young people that, if you can gain respect in the ring, you do not have to get respect from violence on the street.
One of the reasons I decided to run to become the next Deputy Leader of the Labour Party is because it would give me the platform to give a voice to the voiceless. Whether it’s children losing their lives to senseless violence, older people being unable to access safe and decent social care, or refugees fleeing violence and persecution, their voices must be amplified.
A platform alone isn’t enough though - Labour needs to be in power to affect real change for the most vulnerable in our communities. As Deputy Leader, I will rebuild our movement into one people can vote for. A party people can trust. The door may have closed on 12 December for a generation’s hopes and ambitions, but with the right leadership team in place in the Labour Party, it will not be closed for good. We need to win the next General Election, and we must listen to our voters ahead of the Mayoral election in May. As Deputy Leader, it will be my responsibility to rebuild trust, not just with the grassroots of our party, but with voters. Together, we can take Labour forward.
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan is MP for Tooting and candidate for Deputy Leader of Labour