February 18, 2020 11:42 AM

Rosie Duffield: Why I’m backing Rosena Allin-Khan for deputy

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan is my friend, and I know she would make a fantastic deputy leader of the Labour Party. You might think I’m only saying that because I’m biased – yes, she’s my friend, but that’s not why I’m supporting her. 

 I’m supporting her because I’ve seen for myself the determination, relentless hard work, and tireless campaigning energy she would bring to the job.

I was delighted to see her get the necessary support from local Labour parties to make it onto the ballot over the last few weeks – despite the fact that Rosena is the underdog, she simply doesn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘impossible’.

Rosena didn’t have an easy start in life. She was brought up by her mum in a single-parent household, and they didn’t have much. She failed her A-levels first time around because of problems at home and was told she’d never amount to anything. But that didn’t stop her.

Thanks to reforms introduced by the last Labour government, she was able to go to Cambridge to study medicine aged 24 and fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. She still works shifts in A&E alongside her work as an MP.

That determination to never give up has influenced everything that Rosena does. She won a local council seat that had been held by the Tories for decades, winning it by just 16 votes. She came through a rigorous selection process to become the Labour parliamentary candidate for her home of Tooting, and she’s since won three consecutive elections to hold the seat in 2016, 2017 and 2019. She’s also supported me in elections – campaigning to help me hold my seat when it looked under threat from the Tories.

Every day in parliament, I see her fighting tirelessly for her community and the people she represents. That she manages to do all this whilst still working shifts as a doctor in our NHS and also travelling round the world to undertake humanitarian work is a testament to her energy, as well as her ability to function on very little sleep!

Perhaps more importantly, though, she is the candidate with the best ideas in the race to become the next deputy leader of Labour. Our party is in a parlous state of health, and we need to start listening before we can start rebuilding. Rosena has proposed a series of detailed, innovative ideas for how we start the healing process.

She has put forward robust pledges to start dealing with the scourge of antisemitism within Labour, she has published a grassroots revival manifesto with detailed suggestions of how Labour can improve its campaigning operation, and she truly cares about the wellbeing of councillors and activists. I’ve seen her roll up her sleeves and get stuck in with campaigning – the energy she brings with her is relentless.

All of the evidence suggests that these ideas have huge amounts of support across the country, a recent poll shows that Rosena is the candidate who people see as most in-touch with voters. They also believe Rosena is best-placed to replace the previous deputy, Tom Watson, and as someone who can help Labour start winning again. I became an MP by winning a seat, Canterbury, that had never previously been held by Labour, so I know how important it is for the party to have a leadership team who understand what it takes to win.

Yes, Rosena is my friend, but she’s also the best candidate to become the next deputy leader of the Labour Party and that’s why she has my full support. I hope you’ll support her, too, so that we can all start taking Labour forward, together.

Rosie Duffield 

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