Parliament wasn’t built for people like me. The buildings, the traditions, the rituals—if you went to an old private school or an Oxbridge college, maybe you’ll feel at home there; but if like me and millions of others you grew up in an inner-city, working-class community, it’ll feel pretty alien to you.
And in my two years as an MP, I’ve not exactly found it to be the friendliest of environments: From getting death threats in the post, to disproportionate heckles in the chamber (even from my own side). But while it wasn’t built for people like me—and even though it doesn’t serve our communities—I know mass, electoral politics is essential.
The parliamentary left can give voice to our communities, vote in their interests, and champion causes—from Palestine to Kashmir—that would otherwise be neglected. That is what I have been determined to do since I was elected as the Labour MP for Coventry South in December 2019: to be true to these principles and to represent my constituents.
So I believe it would be a grave mistake for the left to abandon parliament. But Tribune readers will know that the parliamentary left isn’t in good shape at the moment and being honest with you, I’m vulnerable too.
The seat I represent is hyper-marginal—my majority is just 401 votes—and at the next election, the Tories will throw everything at me and believe me, they’re going to play dirty. On their side, they’ll have press barons and billionaire donors. They’re not waiting around until the next general election begins. And so neither can I.