Wolverhampton South East
Heritage: Punjabi Indian
Graduated University of Nottingham History & Politics (2013)
Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant (Secondary)
Volunteer Academic Mentor
Why have you decided to stand in this election, and what inspired you to join the Green Party?
Despite it being a paper candidacy I was initially incredibly reluctant to stand in this election and required some gentle nudging from my local party. I realised rather quickly that my initial hesitance stemmed from me not feeling ‘good enough’. This I think really encouraged me to stand as there are people, particularly in my constituency who see politics as an elite far removed occupation closed off to them. By putting myself forward I hope that it encourages others to do the same in the future.
The Green party’s policies are by far the most radical compared to any party in their long term commitment to a more just and sustainable society. Internationalism is equally an important component to this and I have been inspired by various member’s promotion of Kurdish solidarity. Equally, Young Greens in the party have been inspiring in their educating of others on intersectional issues.
What are your top 3 priorities for Wolverhampton South East if elected?
1) Fighting for a Living Wage- Wolverhampton as a whole suffers greatly from a low wage & low skilled economy. Fighting for a Living Wage I believe should be a priority for any elected representative.
2) Fighting Sanctions & Workfare- Wolverhampton was hit hard by the recession leading many having to claim JSA. Sanctions and Workfare have been a disgusting manifestation of our ‘strivers v skivers’ culture. They have led many to use payday loans and food banks and have put others in vulnerable health situations.
3) Putting funding back into Youth Services- Youth services in Wolverhampton have been the first to be cut. We need youth clubs, connexions, mentoring and other intervention but the resources are simply not there anymore.
What’s it like being a BAME person in politics? What needs to change to make politics more representative?
We need quotas so that parliament is more representative. We also need politicians that challenge the established pretensions of parliament. We need them to look, think and speak differently and actually represent their communities. Privilege needs to be challenged, it’s still bizarre that we have an unelected House of Lords. There is a lot that remains archaic in mainstream politics.
What advice would you offer BAME people wanting to enter politics?
Don’t be afraid or ashamed of speaking out on issues of racism. I think a massive problem has been the de-politicisation of race issues. We now have ‘equality and diversity’ as a rather bland discourse that does not tackle the structural and institutional roots of racism. Achieving equality is about far more than representation, we need politicians that will fight for communities.
What personal connections do you have to Wolverhampton South East?
I have lived in Wolverhampton South East for the majority of my life and went to secondary school here.
If elected, how would you communicate with, and represent, marginalised constituents in Wolverhampton South East?
I would regularly speak with community groups and organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau to remain in tune with local concerns. I would fight austerity and stand up for public services in parliament as it is marginalised groups -particularly those with disabilities- suffering disproportionately from this. I would challenge the anti-immigrant rhetoric and islamophobia that is so prevalent in our political discourse. I would speak out on issues such as surveillance, Stop & Search and other policing tactics that criminalise and vilify particular communities.
What’s it like being a BAME candidate in the Green Party and how can the Party reach out to more BAME people and communities?
The party need to be more vocal on issues of race. I think the launch of Greens of Colour by members has been a massive step and I hope that this will influence more of the party. I hope in the future that more work can be done engaging with BME communities particularly by canvassing and leafletting during election times.
Who is/are your political hero(es) and how have they influenced your own path?
Reading about Assata Shakur really made the importance of intersectional politics resonate with me. The way in which she sought to decolonise the minds of black women by challenging oppression from both white supremacists and sexists within her own movement. The way in which women such as her have been almost erased from history has inspired me to work in education. I hope that I can eventually teach young people about revolutionary figures such as herself.