Seema Malhotra

Labour candidate: ‘We need to get our own house in order’

By Samuel Draper
December 8 2019, 22.00

Labour still needs to get its house in order according to one of its own candidates.

Seema Malhotra was elected for the party to Feltham and Heston in a 2011 by-election, following the death of long-standing MP Alan Keen.

However, she quit the shadow cabinet in 2016 and called for Jeremy Corbyn to be replaced as leader at the time.

Now an uneasy truce appears to have been called for this election campaign.

She said: “As a party, we need to get our own house in order. One of my messages has been about Labour wanting to unite the country. I think the country can be united under Jeremy Corbyn.

“I think it’s important he apologised over anti-Semitism. It is the responsibility of the Labour leadership to make sure we do what we can over this issue.”

Mrs Malhotra was the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, but stepped down in June 2016, days after the Brexit referendum result.

She even accused Mr Corbyn’s aides in effect of breaking into her offices, breaching security and parliamentary privilege.

However, she remains a heavily involved member of the Labour party on a local and national level and is once again out campaigning hard in Feltham and Heston.

At Westminster, she is a member of the Exiting the European Union Select Committee. She is also especially proud of her role in the Commons reference group on representation and inclusion, which was chaired by John Bercow, the former speaker of the House of Commons.

She said: “The agenda looked at the culture of parliament as a village in its own way. We said we needed to reform the process of politics to be more inclusive.

“We saw changes come through much faster than we would normally see change in a very slow system that puts tradition first.

“Having a way in which the Commons itself looked at its own house was very important. “Being a Labour representative on that was a real honour.”

Ms Malhotra is a huge supporter of the local community.

She grew up in Osterley, went to school in Heston and has represented her home constituency as a Labour MP since 2011. She enjoys doorstep campaigning, despite its occasional challenges.

The local community are happy to open up about their views, even if they go against the grain in this Labour safe seat.

She said: “Talking to people who don’t agree with me are some of the most enriching conversations. You need the confidence to be prepared for whatever comes on the doorstep. People here generally share their views and they do so respectfully.”

She wants to see continued improvements to her area over the next few years with ideally a Labour government investing more money into local services in health and education.

Ms Malhotra said: “Place-based regeneration is absolutely critical to me.

“I want to see the Feltham masterplan come to fruition, tied to art and culture to help people feel positive about this area.

“I hope we see a renewal of Cranford too, because that feels like it’s been left behind.”

It is impossible to ignore the importance of Heathrow on jobs, infrastructure and economy in the borough, where 10 per cent of jobs are either directly or indirectly related to the airport.

Ms Malhotra said: “I support expansion, but not unconditionally.

“I think constituents want a good deal that takes into account the impacts of noise and pollution.

“I don’t want Heathrow to fall behind other world leaders and we need to see it as an economic asset which cannot be replaced overnight.

“It would be like taking mining out of a mining village. It would lead to generations of deprivation.”

Read more about what’s important to south west London constituencies in our 24-page General Election preview special.

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