Rosena Allin-Khan puts herself forward to replace Tom Watson
Tooting MP Rosena Allin-Khan
January 8, 2020
Tooting MP Rosena Allin-Khan today announced her bid to become the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, but insisted the local community would remain “the front and centre” of her work.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service she said: “With my A&E shifts I do those around my MP work, usually night shifts or over a weekend or during the recess, and I’m so committed to Tooting I very often work seven days a week.
“The community see that. That is how I have held my seat and turned a marginal seat safe, and I believe Tooting know that I’m always going to go back to them. As Deputy Leader I would be taking so many of the messages I hear from Tooting and using that to inform the national debate, which would be exciting.”
When questioned about the Labour Party’s perceived ‘London bubble’ and calls for a leader who lives outside of the capital, Allin-Khan said her background experiencing “adversity” would allow her to understand and fight “for the entire country”.
She said: “I grew up understanding what it was like to feel as though you have no opportunities. I was told girls like me wouldn’t be able to go on and achieve anything. I came from a single-parent background where my mum had to work three jobs to put food on the table. I knew what it was like to have to watch what you bought in the supermarkets and we only had one heater in the house growing up, we didn’t even have central heating.
“That set of circumstances gives you a fire in your belly to fight for everyone across the country never to have to go through that. I always promised myself growing up that if I ever got out the other side that I would spend my life ensuring that no other child has to live like that.
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“On December 12 I saw the door close on a generation of young people’s hopes and dreams. I know that it was a Labour government that made it possible for me to go to medical school, for that girl from Tooting to study medicine and then serve her community as a doctor. I can take that around the country, because that’s what it is going to take. That is what the Deputy’s role needs to be. Someone who is going to roll their sleeves up and go into Scotland and Wales and up and down the country, which I’ve already started doing, and really listen to people.
“When you have experienced adversity, it knows no boundaries, especially geographical ones, and I certainly can fight for anyone and as Deputy Leader, it would be my role to serve the entire country.”
Tooting is one of the most pro-remain constituencies in the country, with nearly 75 per cent of residents voting to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum, and Allin-Khan is known for being a staunch remainer.
However, she acknowledged that the government’s new 80 seat majority, means that the UK will exit the EU at the end of the month.
She said: “I campaigned for a People’s Vote because I genuinely believed that it was the best thing for our country and for our community. We have been unsuccessful in that aim, and now we are leaving and so the job becomes to hold the government to account to stop a hard Brexit as far as possible, which doesn’t honour worker’s rights, which affects our environmental standpoint, which affects our security, and most importantly we must ensure that Boris Johnson doesn’t have a free reign to damage our country and our communities. And that’s what the Labour Party must do now, and what I would do as Deputy Leader.
Likening the role of the Deputy Leader to her experience as an A&E doctor she added: “I see now as the perfect time to look at what I believe needs to be done to rebuild our party and I identify that I have a set of life skills as a doctor, as someone on our front-line NHS service, who has the ability to listen to people.
“You know, when someone comes to me with an ailment, I don’t prescribe the solution for them or medication for them without a thorough history and examination, and those skills can be applied now to what we need to do in our party, and I believe I’m the person to take it forward.
She said she would work with “whoever is elected leader” to promote unity within the party, adding: “The Deputy’s role needs to be a complementary role, not in competition. It can’t be a leader in waiting role.”
If Allin-Khan wins she will be another high-profile Tooting MP, with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also hailing from the constituency.
“I just think that Sadiq and I are two people who love our community, love our party,” she said.
“Tooting is where I’m born and bred, Tooting is where I’m raising my young family, Tooting is where I work in our NHS. Tooting is just the most incredible community.”
The other candidates who have confirmed they are standing to replace Tom Watson as Deputy Leader are Angela Rayner, Khalid Mahmood, Richard Burgon and Ian Murray.
It is thought Dawn Butler and Conor McGinn are also likely to stand.
Sian Bayley, Local Democracy reporter