Heritage: Mixed Race: Gujarati Indian and White English
Currently: Working zero to 50 hours a week as a temp (but rarely in between)
I have travelled to 20 countries.
I’ve seen over 1,800 movies
I wrote about film for The Independent, and was quoted in Mark Kermode’s latest book.
I was born in the same hospital, and went to the same school, as Russell Brand.
Why have you decided to stand in this election, and what inspired you to join the Green Party?
I decided to join the Green Party when UKIP first started gaining council seats. I was worried by the growing xenophobia in UK politics, and wanted to join an organised left-wing movement to counter that.
I decided to stand in Manchester because I read that voter turnout was lowest amongst young people and minority ethnic voters. I want to show that we do care about politics, and there is a place for us in the debate. I also wanted a platform to challenge austerity at every opportunity.
What are your top 3 priorities for Manchester Central, if elected?
1) End the cuts and tax the rich. The poorest and most vulnerable in our society shouldn’t be paying for the mistakes of the rich and powerful. I would fight to close tax loopholes, tax wealth fairly and stop cuts and privatisation in the public and voluntary sectors.
2) Drug Law Reform. The War on Drugs has been a disastrous failure. We waste time and money searching and prosecuting poor, non-violent young people because they choose to use certain substances (or need them due to illness). Meanwhile, we have allowed criminal gangs and violent foreign drug cartels to control an untaxed, unregulated, multi-billion pound drug trade. I would campaign to have drug misuse treated as a health issue within a fully nationalised NHS, and end Section 60 ‘Stop and Search’.
3) A Living Wage. I think it’s a very basic requirement that workers should be paid enough to live on in this country. I would fight for the minimum wage to be replaced by a Living Wage of £7.85 an hour, rising to £10 an hour by 2020. This would give the bottom 22% of workers a pay rise (including 50% of women in parts of Greater Manchester) and be a huge boost for local businesses.
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?
Pretty much the same as above, haha. I think that if we stick to the party’s principles of localised democracy, it’s only a matter of time before we get more BME people involved. It’s going to take time to convince Black and Asian people to stop voting Labour, because it’s become habitual for a lot of families. Our generation has to be the first to break away from that mould, and instead support the party demanding radical and progressive social change.
What advice would you offer BAME people wanting to enter politics?
If you’re a confident, intelligent person with a moral compass, and a passion to change the country and your community for the common good – run. You’re already better qualified than most of Westminster. If you don’t feel you have the confidence to run, at least get involved in a local party and work up your knowledge and see how you feel in the next five years.
What personal connections do you have to Manchester Central?
I came to Manchester to study, and have lived here for over five years now. I love this city because it is vibrant, multicultural and friendly. I’ve taken part in several demonstrations in the city against austerity, fracking, sexual violence, the rise in tuition fees and the privatisation of the NHS.
If elected, how would you communicate with, and represent, marginalized constituents in Manchester Central?
If elected, I would make a concerted effort to engage young and minority ethnic voters in Manchester. My own ward of Ardwick has seen a registered voters fall by a third in the last year. Hulme, Fallowfield and Rusholme have seen similar drops. I would work to support community and youth groups around Manchester, to help educate young people about politics and get them involved in their communities.
What’s it like being a BAME person in politics? What needs to change to make politics more representative?
This is the first election I’ve stood in, and it’s an interesting time to be involved in politics. The Green Surge has meant that lots of intelligent young people have suddenly become engaged and joined a political party demanding radical change. Unfortunately, we are failing to represent BME communities amongst our candidates. I think many people from minority backgrounds don’t see running for political office as something that they can do. The only way to change that is by BME people getting involved and running in local and general elections. If you ever catch someone complaining that politicians don’t represent us, then tell that person to run next time. Someone has to do it!
Who is your political hero and how have they influenced your own path?
As a Gujarati, I was taught a lot about Mohandas Gandhi growing up, and I feel that his life and actions helped to shape my politics. Gandhiji showed the world how effective political organisation and non-violent civil disobedience can be in the face of a seemingly undefeatable oppressor. His commitment to peace, equality, socialism and morality are a constant inspiration. It’s easy to become resentful in the face of oppression, but the pursuit of sustainable peace and solidarity is a far more important goal. I think Gandhiji’s teachings are relevant to every generation, and he provided an excellent political model to bring about meaningful change.