I am a fighter and a winner and I always say: don’t lose, learn (Picture: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Why I'm running to be deputy leader of the Labour Party


On the night of the general election I was truly devastated watching the results come in.

The whole evening was bittersweet for me – I was honoured to retain my Brent Central seat and pleased to see the hard work and dedication of local Labour activists rewarded, but the national result was heartbreaking.

In that moment I knew that I could not allow this to happen ever again. Our communities simply cannot afford another decade of Tory rule.

The prospect of another five years with Conservatives in power is devastating for me, but in difficult times I always try and remember in the words of Labi Siffre: ‘The further you take my rights away the faster I will run’.

The autopsy on why we lost will take time and there are no easy answers, but this should not stop Labour from developing a strategy to win again.

I am a fighter and a winner and I always say: don’t lose, learn. It is for this reason I am running for deputy leader and am determined to ensure that the recent election is the last time we lose.

After all, my own path to Parliament was not easy – I won the nomination for Brent South against the establishment candidate and served as an MP from 2005-10. When the constituency was later abolished, I stood for Brent Central but the Liberal Democrats won the new seat.

I did not give up or give in. I kept campaigning locally and listening intently to voters.

In 2015 I won it back with a 28.4 per cent swing – the biggest to Labour that year. So I have the experience and know first-hand how to recover from defeat: it is important to learn the lessons and implement a solid plan to win again. I can do just that and it is exactly what Labour needs.

Our greatest asset is our activists. I travelled the country during the election, visiting 41 seats, I saw people out in the cold, dark and rain canvassing for a Labour victory. Those activists need motivating and we can’t afford to lose them, or their enthusiasm. Instead, we must take community activism to the next level.

As deputy I will bring the party together as a united force, harnessing the talents of all, to make sure we prepare for power.

I came into Parliament from the trade union movement where I trained organisers and created the C.O.R.E programme – Campaign, Organise, Recruit and Educate. As deputy leader I’ll implement this strategy, which will be fundamental in our fightback into government.

We will Campaign, ensuring that from day one we reach out locally in all communities. Our motto must be: if it matters to them, it matters to us. This will build trust in Labour again. Labour needs to have access to the latest technology instead of clunky out of date programs.

We will Organise, ensuring that the Labour Party has trained coordinators to arrange campaigns in every area, not just cities but towns and rural areas all the way from the South-West to Scotland. I will help build the largest organising force Labour has seen, re-establishing trust in communities by gathering and working together all year round as we rebuild our party.

We will Recruit, to ensure we structure our party with diverse thoughts and ideas so that we move forward. We will look at new and emerging campaign techniques and technologies to ensure Labour is at the cutting edge of innovation, reaching out to new people and demographics.

And we will Educate. We need an educational programme designed by people with lived experience, with Labour values at the core. This comprehensive guide will include training on anti-Semitism, racism against African-Caribbean people (sometimes called Afrophobia), transphobia, misogyny, homophobia and any other type of bullying and oppression. There will also be mental health and disability awareness training.

This strategy will help us build as we campaign and as we win. We will succeed from the bottom up – as we win our councillors, mayors and all other elected positions. This momentum will all go towards building a national strategy so that we can rise again and get back into government.

Key to delivering this strategy will be discipline. We must show the public that we can unite once again take on the Tories. I have worked with people from across our party and have the temperament to bring people back together. In doing so, I will promote a strong message discipline, which we have lacked.

As the only candidate who has served under two Labour prime ministers, as well as in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, I am well positioned to unite the party, which is essential if we are going to win again. And, as the first elected African Caribbean woman to serve as a government minister, I understand the value of diversity.

As deputy I will bring the party together as a united force, harnessing the talents of all, to make sure we prepare for power.

There is no doubt we must learn from the past. But we now need to Campaign, Organise, Recruit and Educate for the future so we have Labour prime minister once again. That is what  #Dawn4Deputy is about and together we can do it.