The kebab king of Waterloo is keeping me waiting while he seals a deal. I’m sitting in his restaurant at a Formica table, mopping up some baba ganoush with cold pitta.
The food’s not bad but I’m worried about the time; Ibrahim Dogus has packed a lot into his 35 years, and I’m concerned we won’t get through it all.
The restaurant, Troia, is behind County Hall, near the London Eye. Big Ben bongs to inform me I’ve been waiting 15 minutes. Suddenly, Dogus bursts into the room — a small man with a big smile — “Come, eat with us!”Read more
I was undeniably sad to learn we had not won the Cities of London and Westminster. But I think everyone involved in the campaign can feel proud in knowing we ran a great, positive campaign. We increased Labour's hold on this seat and showed that through hard work, cooperation and talking about the issues that matter to people, we were able to make a difference. We managed to reduce the Conservative majority from around 9,000 to around 3,000 votes. I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart everyone who gave their time to this campaign and everyone who trusted me with their vote. It means so much and we should continue to fight another day. I wish Mark Field all the best in representing the constituency in parliament.
I for my part am determined to carry on. I was inspired and moved by the dedication of all the activists and volunteers who gave so much. I am touched by the amount of people who wrote to me, even if not typically Labour voters, because they wanted to engage with their candidates, the very essence of the democratic experience. These last weeks have shown me more than ever that our democracy is an incredible thing. I want to make Britain a fairer and better place, and I hope I will have many more opportunities in the future to work towards this goal.
Thank you all once again!
Yesterday (30 May), we held an excellent hustings in St Mary-le-Bow Church in the City of London. I laid out my pledges to constituents of Cities of London and Westminster and received lots of informed, probing questions from the constituents, reflecting their very real concerns for the future of this area and of the country. Liberal Democrat candidate for Cities of London and Westminster, Bridget Fox, Benjamin Weenen from the Young People's Party and independent candidate Tim Lord also shared their ideas, leading to a really productive dialogue.
On 18 May I took part in the Small Business Debate, organised by Enterprise Nation. As Chair of SME4Labour, promoting the interests of small and medium business is a matter that is very important to me. The debate was lively and I really enjoyed sharing my perspectives with the other participants and hearing the questions and concerns of the audience. I always learn a great deal from such events and was inspired by the very real concerns expressed.
I was joined on the panel by Matt Hancock, former digital and culture minister and Conservative candidate for West Suffolk; Lord Monroe Palmer, Lords spokesperson for SMEs, Liberal Democrats; Rachel Collinson, Green Party spokesperson for business; and Ernie Warrender, spokesperson for small business, UKIP.
The event was hosted by the founder of Enteprise Nation, Emma Jones.
On Thursday 25 May, we held a fundraising dinner at Ezra's Kitchen in Wood Green. Thanks to the generosity of all of those who attended, we are able to raise £15,000 for Cities of London and Westminster Labour Party. The dinner was organised by businessmen Ali Matur and Mustafa Topkaya, as well as Councillor Ali Gul Ozbek. I would like to the thank these three for organising the event and doing so much for the campaign, progressive politics and the Labour Party. Once again, a big thank you to everyone for what was a great dinner!
Under the Tory’s proposed National Funding Formula, schools in Westminster, an area with the seventh highest level of child poverty in the whole country with high numbers of children facing barriers to learning, will face drastic cuts to their budgets. Westminster City School, under the new formula, is looking at costs that could translate to 12 teachers’ salaries. Headteachers Sîan Maddrell and Kat Pugh, of Grey Coast Hospital and St Marylebone, CE School respectively, recently signed a letter to Karen Buck, Labour Party MP for Westminster North, saying that if their funding levels are cut or even remain the same that this will have a negative impact on young people in the area. Rather than write to their local MP, Mark Field, they wrote to the Labour MP of their neighbouring constituency. Their letter said that schools are facing a financial crisis “regardless of the National Funding Formula”. Pimlico Academy, another fantastic school in Westminster, is set to lose out considerably from the new National Funding Formula.
I am writing to the headteachers of all of these schools, which are the four state secondary schools in the Cities of London and Westminster constituency to see what we can do to fight these cuts and get better support for young people here. These cuts are not just affecting schools in Westminster but those across London. Many people living in Westminster send their children to schools in other boroughs, as equally badly affected.