On Tuesday lunchtime we were privileged to welcome to the Bishop Centre Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, to talk about her experiences of race and gender in the world of politics.
When Tulip was young her father suffered a stroke which left him unable to speak for five years, and it was the care he received from the NHS, and the value of public services, that made a huge impression on Tulip and inspired her to get involved in politics and to ‘do the right thing’. Tulip explained to the hall full of students that you don’t need to agree with absolutely every policy on a political party’s agenda but that she was drawn to the Labour Party because of its overarching policies in support of social justice, equality and fairness.
Tulip spoke about the importance of resilience and how she missed out on a seat the first time she stood for selection: ‘there will be times when you don’t get the job or the promotion’. She has experienced additional challenges because she doesn’t fit the stereotype of a typical politician – her family heritage is from Bangladesh and she stands at just 4’11” – and she recounted the story of how she had to be wheel-chaired in to vote against Brexit when she should have been having her baby. Sadly, online abuse is a huge challenge for female MPs – as it is for other women in the limelight – but Tulip continues to campaign for the release of her constituent Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and on a whole number of other issues around social justice.