Update by Gary Lefley – Chair – CWG Labour
It’s an exciting time for Labour in Chingford and Woodford Green.
On July 15, at our largest members’ meeting for many years, you chose Faiza Shaheen to be our new prospective Parliamentary candidate.
In an election contested by a host of talented and experienced candidates, Faiza – who was nominated by all our branches – was elected on the first count with a large majority.
Faiza was raised in a working class family in Chingford, educated at Chingford Foundation School and had her first job at Greggs, the bakers, in Chingford Mount. She won a place at Oxford University where she achieved a 1st Class Honours degree in Politics, Philosophy & Economics. She then went to Manchester University where she was awarded a PhD.
She is now a leading economist and director of the trade union-backed think tank CLASS and helped to draft parts of Labour’s highly acclaimed election manifesto.
Her journey from Chingford through the Oxbridge establishment convinced her of the need to fight inequality and champion the community where she grew up. Coming from the same school as David Beckham and Harry Kane, as the football chant goes, she’s one of our own.
As chair of our constituency, I found her to be a woman of principle and humility. Despite her talents, she was not interested in being gifted a “safe seat” – her heart was set on representing the people and the constituency in which she grew up, where she has roots and where her politics come from.
She knows the people, the demography and the culture; she understands the varying and complex needs of Chingford & Woodford Green and the campaign we’ll need to wage to win it from the Tories.
A super communicator and campaigner, Faiza will be a formidable candidate. With a slender majority of 2,440, and the Lib-Dems and Greens polling 3, 247 votes between them, the Tories and IDS are teetering on the brink. With Faiza, and your steadfast support, we can turn Chingford red.
Our recent AGM enjoyed the largest delegate participation for 15 years. This reflected the increase in grassroots membership since 2015, a growth in branch activism over the past 12 months and a corresponding upsurge of participation in the democratic structures of our local party.
At the AGM, we celebrated a rapid expansion in our campaigning activities and successes over the past year (see Chair’s AGM report).
We have doubled the number of branches within the constituency and re-established our women, ethnic minority and youth forums. The average attendance at General Committee meetings has increased from eleven delegates between 2003-2015 to a remarkable 38 in 2017/18!
Political discussions have included everything from the crisis facing the local NHS and improving transport links for Chingford Mount; to the Picture House Strike and the political situation in Palestine. Speakers included high profile figures such as Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, who addressed us on the issue of the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower.
We made good progress in the local elections with a net gain of four councillors – including two in the Redbridge part of the constituency where voters have never been represented by Labour – and a significant increase in our vote share across the constituency.
Our new website and expanded use of social media is increasing our engagement with the electorate, especially young voters. There are numerous other recent initiatives which, again, I detail in the chair’s report.
At the AGM, I was re-elected as chair, as were secretary Aktar Beg; vice chair Naomi Wimborne Idrissi; women’s officer Helen Watson and treasurer Cathy Burns. Alex Heslop is the newly-elected vice chair-membership.
Of the other ten elected posts, nine were uncontested. The new ethnic minorities forum organiser is Nadia Amara.
The development of the party locally reflects the national picture since 2015 and re-elected officers are humbled that our leadership has been endorsed by general committee delegates.
With Faiza Shaheen as our Parliamentary Candidate, we are well placed to move forward in concert with the leadership and policies of the party, to take on and defeat the Tories locally and nationally, and that is our paramount concern.
I am driven by the conviction that if the east London Labour movement mobilises all its resources in support of our historic mission to Unseat IDS, then Faiza will end the local Tory dynasty of Churchill, Tebitt and Duncan Smith and join Jeremy Corbyn in forming the next Labour government.
By campaigning to implement our brilliant manifesto, For the Many, Not the Few, we will help change local peoples’ lives for the better in health, education, housing and transport.
I look forward to working with you to make that change happen.
Chingford & Woodford Green CLP