The Whigs are the oldest and newest political party in Britain.
Everyone’s a little bit Whiggish. Originally founded in 1678, the Whigs had a profound influence in creating the democratic, free and diverse United Kingdom we live in today. I first heard about the Whigs in school history lessons, and I remember thinking I would have been a Whig if I’d been alive in the 19th Century, when the Whig party were instrumental in ending the slave trade and extending the vote. Like many people, I have been feeling increasingly disillusioned with the current political scene but I didn’t want to get cynical and apathetic. With the return of the Whig Party I’m delighted that I don’t need to be!
A little about me
I grew up in Glasgow and at school I loved debating and public speaking. I had the great opportunity to study law at Oxford University and then in the United States. After that I worked for a human rights organisation in Rwanda before moving to London to train as a barrister.
As a barrister I specialise in employment and discrimination law, public law, medical law and inquests. This means I have the privilege of advising and representing people from all walks of life when they are dealing with significant, and often traumatic, life events like the death of a loved one, a serious injury, unfair discrimination or the loss of a job. I have been involved in the Leveson Inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal, the Al-Sweady Inquiry into an incident during the Iraq war, and the public inquiry into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. I also have some insight into how Government operates on a day-to-day basis, so getting involved in politics doesn’t feel like something completely new.
As a Christian I am passionate about trying to love and serve the people around me, and I believe that Christians can bring wisdom and integrity to government and policy-making. I am frustrated with how much politics at present encourages a self-centred approach to many issues, such as those ‘budget calculators’ that appear after every Budget for people to work out how it is going to affect them personally. I believe each of us should be concerned about the welfare of everyone, especially those less well off than ourselves, and this concern for social justice is a core Whig value. I am also proud of the Whigs’ historic promotion of a truly tolerant society, and would strongly defend freedom of religion and belief, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech for everyone.
I’ve lived in this constituency since getting married in 2009 and we moved from Aldgate to Bow a couple of years ago. My wife and I love living in this area with our one-year-old daughter.
Why should people in Bethnal Green and Bow vote Whig?
Well, they always used to! The last Whig MP here was George Thompson, an anti-slavery activist who was elected in 1847. Much has happened in the past 150 years, but also nothing has fundamentally changed. Bethnal Green and Bow is still a vibrant and diverse part of London. Waves of immigrants have made this their home, from French Huguenots and Jews, to Irish, Pakistanis and more recently Bengalis and Bangladeshis. At the heart of the East End, we enjoy the bright colours of Columbia Road flower market, the thought-provoking art of the Whitechapel Gallery, the wonderful tastes and smells of Brick Lane, and the cutting-edge fashion of Spitalfields. This is a place that has always been forward-looking, open to the world and genuinely tolerant. It’s a Whiggish place.
The current MP clearly loves this area too and works hard for its people. Local politics here has seen far too much negative campaigning in recent years and the Whig Party wants to bring a positive voice to politics. However, Rushanara Ali does represent a Labour Party whose policies and platform are currently uninspiring and lacking in vision. I want to offer Bethnal Green and Bow something fresh: an optimistic and unashamedly values-based approach to the challenges that currently face us, both locally and nationally. We are positive about immigration. We think we should have a genuine ‘long-term economic plan’ that invests in our young people and infrastructure rather than being obsessed about reducing the deficit. We believe education, including higher education, should be free. Vintage political principles that have stood the test of time, reworked for the 21st Century.
Where to find me
I’m on Twitter @BGandBWhigs and Facebook Bethnal Green and Bow Whigs . I’ll be at hustings and other events all around Bethnal Green and Bow during April. Check back here and on Twitter for times and locations. And if you’d like to send me an email you can reach me on [email protected].