One of my earliest memories is my mum not being able to afford to top up the gas meter in our flat. For my family, ‘normal’ was getting by week-to-week and wondering whether our benefits would make it to Sunday.
Growing up on a council estate with a single parent who barely spoke a word of English, my friends and I thought that our world was the only one that existed in this country. We thought that everyone was going through the same things that we were. Our EMA was cut, our benefits slashed, our tuition fees trebled, our youth centres closed. We lost far too many friends to knife violence.
I think it’s safe to say people like me were never supposed to become MPs.
Yet, in September last year, I was selected as Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) to face Boris Johnson in my home seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. With Johnson’s majority halved in the last election, Uxbridge and South Ruislip is now a marginal seat – needing only a 12% swing to change hands.
At 24 years old, I was one of the youngest parliamentary candidates in the country. Now, I was tasked with unseating the former Mayor of London, Foreign Secretary and the favourite to be our next Prime Minister.
For me, this is not only an opportunity to beat one of the most dangerous figures in British politics today, it is also a chance to rewrite the future of our country.
For nearly all of my life, I have felt an angst that I could not quite articulate, an anger that I just couldn’t put my finger on. I knew something was wrong, I just didn’t know exactly what it was.
Then came the financial crash and the coalition government. I watched as bankers in this city got bailed out while my mum was made homeless. I watched as politicians turned working-class communities against migrants and minorities. I watched as teachers were made to cry in frustration, doctors made to strike in exasperation, and I saw my community over-worked and overwhelmed.
As millions of families like mine struggled, Boris Johnson cheered from the sidelines and suggested the super-rich be granted knighthoods for their “heroic” work.
I had found what was wrong: our politics was built to serve a wealthy elite. It had been designed to leave communities like mine behind.
I knew that, standing against Boris Johnson, our campaign could be more than a marginal seat in a general election – it could pose the question of which direction our country would take. Would we continue with the arrogant, Etonian, Oxbridge elite who would never understand the day-to-day struggle of most people in this country? Or could a young working-class voice disrupt their political order?
No matter how hard forces within the press try to paint Boris Johnson as a harmless character, he is a sinister man and his time as Prime Minister would be hugely damaging to this country.
The flag-bearer of Trumpism in the UK, Johnson believes in keeping society divided by inequality and intolerance while he and his friends build a corporate country that serves only a select few.
When he isn’t busy referring to Black people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles,” or Muslim women as “bank-robbers,” Johnson is clinking champagne glasses with far-right figures such as Steve Bannon and toasting to a future where migrants and minorities are further marginalised.
His is a future where we hurtle towards climate catastrophe, where our NHS and public services are auctioned to Trump’s America, and where the United Kingdom becomes a tax haven for the billionaire elite. There is another choice for the people of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and for the people of our country.
I am standing in this election because I have a genuine belief in a better future. I joined the Labour Party because I saw solutions to the urgent crises ahead of us, and a movement rooted in the principle that nobody – and no community – should be left behind.
That means a fully-funded and protected National Health Service. It means a Green New Deal that brings millions of new jobs in a pioneering, fairer economy with a true living wage. It means a revitalised education sector – free from cradle to grave. It means a comprehensive social housing programme, universal childcare for all and a modern, renationalised rail service connecting each region of a vibrant and thriving country.
Never before has the phrase ‘politicians are all the same’ been less true than it is right now.
There is an alternative. One where young, passionate voices can break through and shake up this Parliament. We can beat Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, and unseat him and his politics for good.