Neeraj Patil: Why I’m standing to represent local parties on Labour’s NEC

As an NHS A&E doctor for the last 25 years, I have been working with real people with real problems, usually at a time when they are at their most vulnerable. The people I meet daily are mostly those who don’t have much to do with the inner wranglings of national politics. They are genuine, decent people who trust us politicians to remember that we are in politics to look after their real needs and best interests. When we lose sight of that priority and get confused in political theory and schemes, our Great British public reminds us at the ballot box. We have lost the last four elections, the last one devastatingly, and for me, this is a sign that we had become confused about our priorities. We had lost our way.

I have seen first-hand how Covid-19 is consuming its way through the most vulnerable members of our society, and I have seen how the political mishandling of Brexit has eaten its way through our national character and self-esteem. We in the Labour Party have a responsibility to put our own house in order and reconnect with real British priorities if the electorate is to entrust their wellbeing to us again. We need a united party, led by Keir, that will hold the current administration to account and start to rebuild our broken ‘Red Wall’ if we want to get elected in 2024.

We must engage with real issues as a priority, issues that affect our British electorate first. At a time of unprecedented economic threats to our nation and the health of our fellow citizens, we have to put our citizens, our elderly and our young adults, first. When we are strong nationally, we become relevant internationally, not otherwise. Our foreign policy is vitally important, our determination to seek peace for the peoples of Kashmir and Palestine hugely valuable, but the single mother in Oldham who has just contracted Covid must, in my humble opinion, come first. I feel for her and her wellbeing, above all other broader policies.

I am standing for election to the national executive committee (NEC) with two aims. Firstly, to help refocus and reprioritise our efforts to support British citizens in what I fear will be the most difficult post-war decade in our history. Secondly, we are a broad church in which diversity of opinion should be an asset to us as we cooperate in the service of our citizens. We need to relearn how to communicate skilfully and without toxicity and above all we must strive for unity of purpose, across the whole of our party. We must get both right if we are to win the next general election. Divided parties lose.

I am accustomed to prioritising and acting effectively, often under the greatest pressure. I am a man who is raising a family and dealing with our new normal and the pressures it places upon all of us, and I am deeply concerned about the serial failures, poor character and simple incompetence of this Tory government. We have seen the impact of Tory policies, with deep savage cuts and almost Victorian austerity tearing into the fabric of our lives. The NEC must formulate our own policies to challenge and reverse this harm. I can bring 25 years of NHS experience, at all levels, to help face Covid-19 and its long-term effects, as well as contributing real-world ideas and improvements that will safeguard and improve our unique and most valuable NHS. With an ageing population and increasing demands on our health resources, our party’s health policies will be critical.

As a British Asian from a BAME background, I have seen first-hand how the Tories divided our Asian communities on almost every issue. During my tenure as mayor of Lambeth, I engaged and worked with all BAME communities for harmony and peace, as full members of the British public. Such division will further pull apart our BAME communities to the advantage of the Tories, undermining the great progress of our successive Labour governments in promoting racial equality and mutual respect. We so desperately need a Labour government in 2024 and this is only possible by finding clarity, strength and unity and this must come from the NEC. If entrusted with your support, as your NEC representative, I will work to rebuild our party to win in 2024.

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