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Race for City Hall: Candidates in Labour selection showdown

Two Somali-born British women look to make local political history

11 August, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Sagal Abdi-Wali with Keir Starmer, who is endorsing her to be the Labour Party’s candidate in Camden and Barnet

TWO women born in Somalia have won key support in Labour’s internal contest to find a candidate for next year’s City Hall elections.

The party has to find a new name for the ballot paper after Andrew Dismore, the current Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, announced he was retiring. An all-woman shortlist has been put in place for the selection contest, with the winner set to start as the favourite to win the seat next May.

On Thursday, members in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency nominated Faduma Hassan, a councillor in Brent who has previously worked in Jeremy Corbyn’s office, as their preferred candidate.

It follows Sagal Abdi-Wali’s success in securing the nomination in the Holborn and St Pancras constituency last month. They are both now almost certain to get an interview as the selection contest continues into next month. Ms Abdi-Wali is the CLP chair in Sir Keir Starmer’s constituency, and has the endorsements of the MP and council leader Georgia Gould.

But in the twin borough-constituency, Barnet has often held the upper hand in candidate selection contests for both Labour and the Tories, who have selected Barnet councillor Roberto Weeden Sanz to stand. Labour members in Finchley and Golders Green nominated Anne Clarke, a councillor in Child’s Hill, as their preferred candidate.

Mr Dismore has endorsed her. If Ms Hassan or Ms Abdi-Wali win the contest, they could be the first Somali-born woman to be elected to the Assembly.

The local Labour Party in Camden has been criticised for not bringing through black candidates in recent years. Ms Hassan said: “I’m running because we need leaders, activists, people who know the problems because they’ve faced them.”

Faduma Hassan

Ms Abdi-Wali said she had felt prejudice first-hand as a Muslim woman, adding: “We must strive to get the full trust of all communities in order to lead our wonderful patchwork nation.” She said she wanted a “public health” approach to knife crime but it needed to be backed up with funding.

Other possible Labour candidates in Barnet and Camden are Fleur Donnelly-Jackson, Marion Sharples, Miriam Mirwitch, Salma Amin and Yasemin Brent.

The Lib Dems are fielding Marisha Ray, while the Greens selected Kirsten de Keyser.


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