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