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Shahina Jaffer – On the Labour Party shortlist of Candidates for Lambeth and Southwark seat in the Greater London Assembly elections due in May 2020

By Kaied Omar Ghiyatha, London UK.

We interviewed Shahina Jaffer, Candidate who was shortlisted to be the Labour party candidate for Lambeth and Southwark at the coming Greater London Assembly election in May 2020.

She said: I am a black woman socialist, living and working in Southwark. I know full well the impact that years of needless Tory austerity, de-regulation and marketisation have had on our schools, hospitals, housing and jobs. I thoroughly enjoyed campaigning as a council candidate in the 2018 local election in North Bermondsey when we increased the Labour vote there by 61%. If I am elected to the Greater London Assembly, I want to fight for Southwark and Lambeth, for the resources that we desperately need to build a fairer, safer and more inclusive society. I want my campaign to be about people in Southwark and Lambeth standing up for the key issues of more housing, less violence and improving the air and green spaces where we live.

Living in Bermondsey, I’ve seen first-hand how property developers have been enabled at the expense of working-class people. I have campaigned against rent increases and for affordable rents, fought for enforcement of social housing policy, and lobbied for better planning proposals. Ultimately, I believe the only solution to our housing crisis is through a massive expansion of Council housing.

As part of the community in Southwark and Lambeth, I have been devastated by the growing number of tragic deaths of our young people from knife crime. We have to look beyond policing for solutions to this crisis, I will campaign at City Hall to transform the youth and social services, schools and housing that can really make a difference.

Air quality is a massive issue for our health and wellbeing in London, but as a citizen I feel a sense of urgency. We need to be more pro-active with green investment in public transport, expansion of inner-city green spaces and safer cycle lanes. In one of the richest cities in the world, I want to demand increased corporate social responsibility and investment needed to tackle our environmental crisis.

I have been active in Bermondsey for the last five years, both in the Labour Party and in the local community. As an active black member of the Labour Party and Chair of my branch, I strongly believe in accountability and opportunities for new talent. That is why internal democracy and transparency is so important and why I support full open selection for all elected representatives.

As a working artist and activist, I have felt how art brings value into our lives. I have organised exhibitions across London and run inclusive art projects that broaden access to means of expression. I am an expert in finding ways to fund them. As a GLA member, I would be in a unique position to break down barriers, making art more accessible, and to acquire greater funding for initiatives that improve our quality of life in Lambeth & Southwark. I believe that going into City Hall to represent Lambeth and Southwark requires a full-time commitment, without the distraction of other political office, and I would dedicate myself to the role. I would be highly visible and engaged with all our constituencies.