Croydon Central open primary: Hamida Ali

Hamida Ali – recently selected as a Labour party council candidate for Woodside ward – says, “Tackling inequality is what drives me.”

Hamida Ali

Hamida Ali

Ali, who is an Equalities Officer at the BBC, would put equalities at the forefront of her parliamentary campaign. She is prominent in Croydon Labour Women’s Forum.

Ali says that she “helped organise a long-standing campaign to ‘Save the Family Justice Centre (FJC)’ working with local women’s organisations”.

Ali also states that she “led a successful campaign to clear-up” the Jubilee Bridge subway where a large pigeon was recruited to embarrass Tory councillor Phil Thomas when he turned up to listen to residents.

Ali says that following her campaign the, “Portas Town initiative invested £10,000 in a new mural for the Jubilee Bridge subway as a result.”

Ali says that she helped write the Crown Prosecution Service’s Racist and Religious Crime Policy Statement, developed training for its Homophobic Crime Public Policy Statement and established both the Metropolitan Police Authority’s Stop and Search Scrutiny Improvement Panel and Domestic Violence Board.

INSIDE CROYDON’S QUESTIONS

We put questions to all the candidates. This is how Hamida Ali answered

What do you see as the single most important issue facing Croydon today?

The combination of a Tory council in Croydon and a Tory MP in Croydon Central for the best part of a decade really shows in the town centre. Only when we had a Labour administration in the Town Hall and a Labour MP in Croydon Central was there a far-sighted vision for the vibrant place of opportunity that Croydon should be today.

The Tories abandoned Labour’s plans and instead they’ve left Croydon under-developed, under-housed and under-skilled – looking only to the Westfield and Hammerson partnership for salvation.

Corporation after corporation has left the town, taking their investment with them and the scars of the riots are still visible with compensation promised to business owners and other victims not forthcoming. When I speak to people on the doorstep many of them lament the decline they have seen in the last 10 years.

I want to put Croydon back on the road to recovery. My priority would be to secure new investment for both the town centre and our district centres around the borough. More capital investment to address our critical housing shortage would help create jobs. We should be taking every opportunity – such as Crystal Palace’s promotion to the Premier League – to renew our identity in London as a destination for growth and optimism – for everyone.

Should voters get the chance to decide on the UK’s membership of the EU?

I’m strongly in favour of our membership of the EU. It’s too easy to forget that the EU was born out of a common desire to secure lasting peace within Europe – then not known for centuries – through greater political and economic co-operation. Importantly that endeavour has been successful but beyond those first principles, our economy benefits from inward investment and trade and we benefit from more job opportunity and better working and consumer rights.

A referendum has been promised – not by parties but now through the statute book. If our relationship with Europe changes further, those shifts will trigger a referendum and people will have another say. However, at a time when our economy is flat, borrowing is up and when prices are rising faster than wages I think we have other priorities.

Neither is our membership of the EU something that seems to be front of mind to those people I speak to on the doorstep in Croydon. I think their anxieties are closer to home concerned about issues that our membership of the EU only helps to address.

What is your favourite work of art?

Possibly the trickiest question of all! How do you define art? Even when taking a fairly literal interpretation it’s so hard to choose – I’m as interested in the modern and abstract as the traditional and representational. All that said I enjoyed studying the renaissance period at school including artists who were so skilled across a number of disciplines – so I plump for Michelangelo’s Pieta because of his amazing ability to give marble the likeness of just the opposite. Who knows though, if there was greater public access to the 2,000 items in Croydon Museum‘s Art Collection I might have picked one of those…!

Why did you not seek selection in Croydon North last year?

I did consider it although I had been principally thinking about selection in 2015. Following the desperately sad death of Malcolm Wicks MP, I was conscious that the by-election would be of considerable interest to many people and ultimately decided not to pursue it. However, it did help me decide to put myself forward for Croydon Central.

Tony Blair or Tony Benn?

Both! Politically I would be somewhere between the two – to the left of Blair but to the right of Benn but I have an admiration for both men. For Benn – because of his unfailing record on tackling discrimination and standing in solidarity with those who experience inequality and prejudice. His defence of democracy and accountability of power, his decades of living by principle, and speaking truth to power make him a truly inspirational figure for me.

For Blair – for his leadership to three consecutive governments after 18 years of Tory government – latterly led by the least inspiring figure of a prime minister imaginable.

Those years in power gave us the opportunity to institute the change we all wanted to see including much needed investment in the NHS, transformation of our schools that were falling apart, introduction of a minimum wage and investment in tackling violence against women. It’s not an unqualified endorsement because I didn’t support the war – nor do I agree with some of his reflections of his period in government after leaving office but I did find his early leadership in particular, impressive.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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