Veteran Labour MP Kate Hoey’s successor in Vauxhall has vowed real change in the next parliament – should she be elected.
Florence Eshalomi, 39, has stepped into the high-profile Brexiteer’s place in the Labour stronghold.
Ms Eshalomi is a firm Remainer, while Brexit-supporting Ms Hoey quit and revealed last month that she will be voting for the DUP in the upcoming election.
Campaigning in one of the strongest remain constituencies in the entire country did not stop Ms Hoey from accruing 57% of the votes in the last election.
Vauxhall has returned a Labour MP at every election since it was created in 1950 and has consistently voted Labour in parliamentary elections since 1918, except in 1931.
But Ms Hoey’s retirement as MP has paved the way for a new face of a dominant Labour representation in the constituency.
Ms Eshalomi, 39, said: “The Labour party slogan is ‘real change’. I’m a new candidate, I’m totally different to Kate and I will build on some of the excellent work that she’s done. But she has been here for 30 years and I think it’s time for change.”
According to Ms Eshalomi, the feeling on the doorsteps from this change is mixed.
Some are frustrated about having another election and the level of cuts to public services which they have had to endure over the last few years.
While some have embraced Florence as a representation of their voice and concerns.
Ms Eshalomi said: “Some residents have been very welcoming and engaging with the fact that, as a BAME woman, I stand in a constituency that is 60% BAME and rising.
“Everyone is currently discussing the climate emergency but, similar to the Brexit debate, it is led by middle-class white people.”
Having grown up in Brixton and as a mother of two, Ms Eshalomi feels she understands first-hand the issues which affect residents in Vauxhall and pledges to have a constituency office in order to be more locally accessible to residents than her predecessor.
Ms Eshalomi, who is Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, believes that growing up in the area gives her a personal edge as she faces the brunt of local issues as harshly as many of the residents.
She said: “I use all the local amenities and services that residents use. I see the changes in appointment availability at my GP surgery. I’ve seen the change in the level of deprivation and the divide that is growing.
“I’ve witnessed more people are homeless. I’ve witnessed more people using food banks. By being a local candidate who has lived and breathed this constituency I’ve seen these things and that’s why I think it is important to have a local candidate.
“I’m keen to bring forward a number of people on some of the key issues which we are facing because we need to bring a cohort of different people into those discussions and campaigns.”
The Labour candidate has also pledged help integrate those disenfranchised by British politics in recent years.
Ms Eshalomi said: “I want to build on the work that I’ve already done as a councillor and as a current Assembly member to get people involved, particularly those who think politics is not for them.
“By working with them and the wider community, we can address those key challenges in Vauxhall.”
Despite the fact that YouGov polls tip Vauxhall to be a safe Labour seat, Ms Eshalomi is not resting on her laurels and refuses to take the electorate for granted.
Instead, she is focused on ensuring people use their vote, particularly those who have felt at odds with British politics in the last few years.
Ms Eshalomi said: “It’s not about being confident, it’s about making sure I go out and speak to people so that I can earn their trust and their vote on December 12th.”
Read more about what’s important to south west London constituencies in our 24-page General Election preview special.