Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali has today announced she will be running to become Labour’s next deputy leader. Ali, who has been an MP since 2010, told the BBC’s John Pienaar that she already had support within the Parliamentary Labour Party, including from Keith Vaz and Tristram Hunt.
She says that she wants to focus on voters who left Labour to support UKIP, and feels she can connect with them as a political outsider. She said:
“I’m going to start with going after UKIP voters who left Labour. We have to talk to people who rejected us. We have to listen to them.”
“I grew up in a working-class community. Some of my neighbours were not very friendly. I’m used to rejection so I think I have something to offer… I know what it feels like to be an outsider trying to get in… I think a lot of our voters feel like that – that they just couldn’t get through to us.”
Ali said she feels she has a “huge amount to offer” and wants Labour to be “more radical and imaginative”, adding: “What have we got to lose?” She also said she wants to wait before backing any candidate for leader, and may use her nomination to help someone struggling to get on the ballot and ensure as wide a debate as possible.
At this election, Ali increased her majority from 11,574 to over 24,000. She has held briefs in the Shadow International Development and Education departments during this parliament, and resigned from her role in September 2014 to abstain from the vote on military action in Iraq.
She is the sixth person to enter the race for deputy leader (the maximum number of candidates that can make it onto the ballot) and, following the withdrawal of Chuka Umunna from the leadership contest, the only person from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background to be running for either of the leadership roles.