Vanisha Solanki: Why I’m standing to be a Labour London Assembly candidate

I took the step to stand for the London Assembly to bridge the disconnect between Londoners and City Hall. Not enough people know what City Hall does, and many feel like they have no say in how decisions taken there affect their own lives.

I’m standing because we need a younger voice that can truly understand what affects young people and how we need a real strategy that inspires, motivates and gives genuine hope to young people. Too often, decisions about young people are made entirely by those who have little understanding of the issues. I also believe radical socialist Labour values are desperately needed to force change – we need to hear the voice of workers more loudly, and Londoners must be heard in the policy-making process.

I’m standing because I am confident that I am uniquely placed to represent the whole community. I am a product of the area; my family are here, my friends too. The decision for members in Havering and Redbridge is to pick a candidate who can part ways with tired old politics, who is inclusive and represents Labour members and residents rather than factions. To pick someone who can and will unite the local membership.

I was appalled to see how poorly ethnic minorities are represented in both boroughs at regional and national level. I want members to vote for me because they think I am the best, but I also believe that we need to have a more inclusive and diverse representative and show young people and minorities there is space for you too.

I’ve beaten Tories. I stood to be a councillor in a Tory stronghold, and we took them apart. I have energy, ideas, experience and passion, and although I’ll support the mayor Sadiq Khan, I will also be someone who provides strong scrutiny. I will demand services and investment for Havering and Redbridge.

My priorities have been built by having round table meetings with members and building a truly grass roots team, I haven’t been interested in chasing big name backers or machine politics. The Labour Party is about its members, listening and working with them to build a movement – that’s what I’ve focused on.

I’ve loved every bit of the campaign so far, even when I’ve faced challenges such as having a call where I was essentially told I should be stepping aside. That just made me more determined. I’ve built my own website, written my leaflets and no production company was involved in my videos, just me and a phone! My campaign is not carefully stage managed – what you see is what you get, genuine, straight-talking and honest, with a burning desire to help people.

These are my priorities:

  1. Fighting for better skills and better pay;
  2. Pushing for genuinely affordable homes;
  3. Tackle youth crime and burglaries;
  4. Fight for accessibility across all our tube and train stations; and
  5. Backing a green new deal.

I’ve seen my parents struggle to build a small catering business and put me and my sister through university. I’ve seen inequality destroy hope with my residents. I’m born in Redbridge, have family in Havering, I am truly local and for me it will mean more to represent my community in City Hall.

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