25 Years On

Cllr Hirani with Shadow Minister for Public Health Diane Abbott MPI was delighted to attend the 25 years on event celebrating the 1987 historic election when four ethnic minority MPs, Bernie Grant, Keith Vaz and Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng were elected to Parliament. The event was held at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham. Paul was of course a MP in Brent and now sits in the House of Lords.

Indeed that weekend, I had been watching the Election 1987 programme on BBC Parliament and it was evident that it was an exciting election all around. In terms of social progress in society, it was great for ethnic minorities in this country. It paved the way towards seeing more ethnic minorities in public life in prominent positions. There are 27 ethnic minority MPs in the current Parliament, serving as either Labour or Conservative MPs.

I am proud of the progress that our Brent Labour Group is making and our ethnic composition that reflects the diversity of Brent. Around 60% of the Brent come from ethnic minority backgrounds and 60% of the Labour Group are ethnic minorities.

It’s great progress that Brent Council Leader Muhammed Butt is one of three ethnic minority Leaders of a London Borough Council. Despite London’s diversity, it is surprising that there are not more.

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Cllr Hirani joins the Brent Executive with Cabinet Responsibility for Adults and Health

I am delighted to be serving on the Executive at the London Borough of Brent as Lead Member for Adults and Health.

Cllr Hirani with Shadow Minister for Public Health Diane Abbott MP
Cllr Hirani with Shadow Minister for Public Health Diane Abbott MP

As Lead Member for Adults and Health, I will be overseeing transition, monitoring progress and implementing huge structural changes as our local authority adjusts to the passing of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

I will bring a person centred approach to the role, as I have been championing outside of my Local Authority work in my profession. I am a passionate believer in helping the most vulnerable in our society, stemming from my Labour and Hindu values that make me who I am.

At 26, I am possibly the youngest Council cabinet member in the country and I am immensely proud of this achievement.

Labour calls on Sarah Teather and the Brent Liberal Democrats to Drop The Bill

The Brent Labour Party was joined by Shadow Minister for Public Health Diane Abbott MP on Thursday 23rd February in a campaign to Save The NHS. Hundreds signed the Labour petition to save the NHS in Willesden Green. Doctors, nurses and patients all around the country have called for the Government’s flagship Health and Social Care Bill to be dropped.

The Bill would allow provision for 49% of public facilities to be used by the private sector and would allow services to be delivered by “any willing provider”. This means that hospitals will be able use around half their hospital beds and theatre time for private patients and could lead to waiting lists going up as NHS beds are being used by private patients.

Instead of wasting billions on this damaging reorganisation, Labour would save this money and protect the jobs of 6,000 nurses. Diane Abbott come to Brent to personally hand in a letter to Government Minister Sarah Teather MP and called on her to use her influence to do the right thing for patients in this country and Drop the Bill.

There is overwhelming anger and opposition in Brent to the Tory Liberal Government’s top down reorganisation of the NHS. This is exactly what David Cameron said he wouldn’t do before he became Prime Minister. People don’t want a health service that puts profit before patients. They want to know that in their time of need, the NHS will be there for them.

 

A week in the life of Cllr Hirani

Being a Councillor takes a lot of commitment. Here is what I did last week to give you a flavour.

Monday

I spent Sunday evening going through the Council’s budget for 2012/2013 Budget. On Monday evening, the Labour Group were meeting at Brent Town Hall to discuss the Budget so I wanted to be ready with questions and raise any issues arising.

I do also work and have a full time job working for a national disability charity and with the changes that are happening in this sector it is a demanding role. Before I start work I go to the Swaminarayan Temple in Stanmore where my father is a trustee. My Labour Group meeting was at 7.30pm so I worked from 9am to 7pm. I managed to squeeze in a lunch time gym session as I do like to keep fit and the building I work in has a gym. After work, it was straight to the Town Hall and the meeting finished around 10pm.

Tuesday

Another day at work in the office. Squeezed in another gym session. I had no Council meetings in the evening so I took the opportunity to sit down in front of my computer and work until the late hours of the evening on casework. Most of the casework I pick up is from the doorstep. A constituent who lives nearby also came over to my house because she was flying out to India and wanted assistance in buying travel insurance. I was happy to help and hope her trip goes well!

Wednesday

I worked in the office until late afternoon. I had already worked more hours than I was required to by my employer so I took the opportunity to leave the office and meet with Council transport officers in the Neasden area of my ward. I wanted to point out a location where I believe there should be double yellow lines as the sharp bend coupled with cars parking in the spot makes visibility very poor and it is an accident waiting to happen.

In the evening, I went to the American Embassy. I was invited by the Ambassador to an event celebrating the 15 year anniversary of Operation Black Vote. I participated in the organisation’s Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme and shadowed David Lammy MP. He was also at the reception so it was great to have the chance to catch up and have a chat. I also met and spoke to Rushanara Ali MP, Diane Abbott MP (who I was to come to Brent the next day), Lee Jasper, Garth Crooks and Paul Elliott.  I had to rush back from the embassy to get back to Brent. My mates had booked a 930pm pitch at Alperton goals so I finished the evening with a night of 5-a-side football.

Thursday

I worked from home. As I had a work related meeting in central London to get to. I broke away for an hour as part of my break before my meeting to join Brent Labour’s campaign in the Willesden Green area to Save the NHS. We were joined by Diane Abbott MP who is the Shadow Public Health Minister, who handed in a letter calling on Sarah Teather to use her influence to Drop the Bill.

Friday

Again another day in the office. There are usually no Council meeting or Party meetings on Friday evenings so I got the opportunity to have a night out. That Tinseltown milkshake was well earned!

Saturday

After a work free Friday evening, the battery was charged for a weekend of campaign activity. I had time for breakfast with the family in the morning. I went on the doorstep in my Ward and knocked on doors from around 1pm as I do every Saturday. This week we went to the Willesden part of my ward and knocked on doors on Riffell Road and the Marley Walk estate. I had a member of the Party who lives in my ward and extra help is always welcome!

After I finished, I went to Dollis Hill Ward where there is a Council by-election to help with the campaign there. Parvez Ahmed is Labour’s candidate there and he will make a great colleague on the Council.

Sunday

I actioned the casework I collected on the doorstep on Saturday. I drew up an action plan and mapped out roads that I have not been out to since I was elected. I worked out that in 12 weeks time, the whole of Dudden Hill will have been canvassed since I was elected and some roads at least twice!

I then spent the afternoon, a good three hours, out with Parvez in Dollis Hill Ward knocking on doors. Afterwards, I paid home visits to two residents in the Neasden part of my ward regarding some casework. Sunday evening was again spent playing football at Alperton Goals. My mates were short one player for a 5-a-side game so I stepped in!

And so it was ready for another week. Bring on Monday!

 

Why I am voting No to AV this Thursday

This Thursday, I will be voting No in the referendum vote to change the way we elect our MPs.

I don’t see why people who voted for a candidate who came bottom in a contest should have equal footing with the votes of people who voted for the top two candidates. The principle of one person one vote, does not exist with AV.

AV signals a shift from favouring most popular candidate to favouring the least unpopular. MPs will not reveal their true beliefs and convictions as they would be scared that 50% of people in their constituency will not support them anymore.

Many find it hypocritical that the Labour Party and Conservative Party both use elements of AV to elect their leaders but the Tories and many from Labour are not supporting this system to elect MPs. However, using this system to elect your Party leader where voting is a vote among colleagues and there is a broad agreement with ideology between all candidates up for selection, and selecting an MP where people up for election have radically varying ideologies is completely different.

To put it simply, I have no worries whatsoever that someone who voted Diane Abbott in the Labour leadership contest in 2010 had equal value to people who voted Ed Miliband or David Miliband. But I have an issue when it comes to electing MPs and people who voted for the British National Party having their vote eventually counting for equal value with people who voted for either of the top two candidates.

I also disagree that AV will end safe seats for life. I believe that it will get end some seats being safe, but I also believe that it will create some safe seats. For example, if we take the results of Brent Central at the last election which you can see here (LINK), under AV, Brent Central is likely to be a safe Lib Dem seat once Tory votes are redistributed rather than a hotly contested marginal where MPs can genuinely be held to account.

I agree that there is a case to change from First Past the Post, but AV is the wrong change. I feel there are more proportional systems out there, like the one we use to elect our London Assembly which keeps the constituency MP to voter link on a First Past The Post basis, but also has a strong element of Proportional Representation with a top up list vote.

I could go on, but I hope this Thursday, you will all go out and join me in voting No to AV.