Tower Hamlets activist is second person hoping to be selected as Labour Party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Brent Central
A second contender has come forward in the battle to be picked as the Labour Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Brent Central.
Amina Ali would be the country’s first ever Somali MP if she was selected for the seat and went on to snatch the sought after constituency from the Liberal Democrats at the next General Election.
The 43-year-old, who is a welfare adviser at Tower Hamlets Law Centre, entered the world of politics as a teenager and went on to co-found Somali Friends of Labour in Tower Hamlets.
A former BBC journalist she is currently the vice chair of Tower Hamlets CLP, chair of Limehouse ward, founder Muslim Women for Labour and chair of Tower Hamlets Fabian Society.
A divorcee with two young children, Ms Ali told the Times she decided to throw her hat into the ring after she was approached by a Labour Party member.
She said: “I didn’t take the decision to go for Brent Central lightly, I looked at the constituency and I could see it is a constituency with needs.”
Born in Middlesbrough to Somali parents who came to the UK in the 1950s, Ms Ali grew up in a politically active home.
Her father was a union activist and her mother formed the first ever Somali community group.
At the age of around seven the family moved to Tower Hamlets and as Ms Ali has relatives in Brent she is no stranger to the borough.
She said: “I have known Brent for a long time and I know the issues people here face.
“I have spent a year knocking on doors in the borough and the more I hear the more alarmed I am.
“People living in Brent are worried about what is happening as the government cuts unfold.
“The biggest issues in Brent are housing, unemployment, especially youth unemployment, education and regeneration.
“The closure of Central Middlesex Hospital will also have an affect on people in Brent.
“Brent has a lot of hard-working people who are being affected by the cuts.
“Whoever gets the Brent Central seat has to make sure it’s all about the people and their concerns because I feel the people of Brent have been let down.”
In 2006, Ms Ali was shortlisted as Labour’s PPC for a by-election in Middlesbrough but was pipped to the post by Andy McDonald.
The selected candidate will be vying against Sarah Teather for one of the most fought over seats in the country.
Ms Teather, a former children’s Minister, had previously held the Brent East seat and her political rival Dawn Butler had held the Labour-stronghold seat of Brent South.
But boundary changes brought in for the 2010 General Election resulted in the new constituency of Brent Central being formed from a large section of both Brent East and Brent South.
Ms Teather overturned a notional majority of 7,000 with an 11 per cent swing to win the seat against Ms Butler, a former GMB worker, who was embroiled in the MPs expenses scandal in 2009.
Ms Ali said: “At the time the Labour Party were not listening to people and what they wanted and that’s the mistake that was made – a mistake people should learn from.
“Labour took its eye of the ball and a large number of their voters did not come out to vote.
“Whoever is selected for the Brent Central seat needs to realise we can’t afford to let constituencies like this go to non-Labour candidates.
“Brent Central needs a fighter and a leader and I am a fighter and a leader. I am also a unifying candidate as I will speak to everyone in Brent and not just the Somali community.
“I am here for everyone in Brent.”
Earlier this week health campaigner and Hackney councillor Patrick Vernon OBE became the first person to publicly announce he was hoping to be selected to stand for the seat.