Weak?

“Every branch had to nominate at least one woman and it’s been said that beyond council leader Sarah Hayward, there hasn’t been a lot of strength to choose from on the list of hopefuls in that regard.”

Richard Osley, Deputy Editor of the Camden New Journal, Weds 19th November

Last night, 7 Labour Party branches voted on who they would like to see on the short-list in Holborn & St Pancras. They voted for a woman, a man and an ethnic minority candidate. As I understand it, Cllr Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council, won all the women’s votes, Kier Starmer won all but one (Highgate – Dr Patrick French) of the male ballot and Raj Chada won all of the ethnic minority ballot.

I don’t mind not being short-listed, I completely accept that many of us are not particularly (if at all) known within Holborn & St Pancras Labour Party. But I do mind the lazy, causal dismissal of all the other women as weak candidates by the leading journalist writing on this selection.

I will just draw your attention to one of the other women in the race, Jacqueline Roberts, and ask you to consider whether she is a ‘weak candidate’, whether she gives ‘not much to choose from’, whether she should be so casually written off.

This is from Jackie’s website http://jae0227.wix.com/jacqueline-robinson

“Grew up in slum clearance area of Waterloo Road, moved throughout the North West then to Council Estate in Whitefield. Single mum, living on Council Estate’s started working for local community, established several groups & developed networks. I faced & challenged loan sharks, domestic violence, drugs, worked with excluded kids. Perms & chats with elderly. A real life – like yours. As a mature student I went to college but never let go of my roots.”

Jacqueline Robinson, Candidate

Jackie also uses a wheelchair because she cannot use her legs. She lost the use of her legs when she was adult due to Spina bifida, plus a hang over from childhood Meningitis. Can you imagine for one minute just what she had to adapt to when this happened? Yet she picked herself up and got with her life. She is a campaigner, she’s intelligent and articulate, she has deeply held political principles, and strong views on what needs to change. She also has a great spirit and a great sense of humour. I know that Jackie and I would disagree on lots of specific Labour policies, but the idea – the idea! – that she represents ‘not a lot of strength’, with all that Jackie has achieved, lived through and done and is just so wrong.

JackiePeople talk all the time about wanting to get more ‘ordinary’ people into Parliament. More life experience, more experience out there in the real world, people who have struggled, and fought, and have empathy through shared experiences with people who are suffering. Well here is someone who is all of those things, and more. Maybe you wouldn’t go for her politics, but maybe – just maybe – she’s worth a thought.

NB – the final short-list hasn’t yet been decided, so no-one’s out of the race yet.

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