Community first, second and last . . . what Bruce George and I share in common
My debut was a Big Centre TV broadcast on March 6 at 9 o’clock in the evening on Freeview channel 8. It was nerve-wracking to say the least.
My last one – a 14-minute ‘grilling’ by Sikh Channel chairman Davinder Singh Bal – gave me the chance to give my personal reasons for entering the world of national politics in my first bid to become an MP.
The people and constituency of Walsall South mean a great deal to me.
It’s a personal thing as I told Davinder during the one-on-one questioning. Walsall made me what I am today.
Born and brought up in Walsall in a traditionally voting Labour household, I passed my 11+ exam but as one of six children my mum couldn’t afford to send me to the grammar. Instead I went to the Frank F Harrison School.
As a teenager in the early 1970s I worked in my uncle’s fruit and veg shop, serving among others the sikh residents of the area. I was fascinated by the temples going up alongside the spires of christian churches.
I went from steelworks planning clerk to Mars drinks travelling sales consultant (a Mars a day helped me work, work and stay). I began my life in publishing in 1981, rising from the ranks – reception to company director – helping to launch the Walsall Advertiser a year later.
Sikhs were the first advertisers with the paper. You are fantastic business people and I enjoyed the banter of bartering over advertising rates in the publication.
During my time at the Advertiser I had business dealings with Walsall South’s long-serving MP Bruce George.
Bruce used to pop into our offices at Bradford Street and was a popular visitor. In fact our newspaper column ‘View from the House’ had Bruce as the first contributor and became a regular read for not only many of his constituents but many people in the town.
He was a fantastic MP . . . high profile and visible . . . working hard for his constituents . . . all the things I hope to be if elected on Thursday.
Some 30 years on I bumped into him on the campaign trail a few weeks ago and we re-acquainted our long association with each other.
Bruce George and I share at least one vital thread of commonality –regardless of politics he always put the community first.
I have to confess I am not a career politician but a businesswoman of 35 years who wants to serve the community all the time.
I want to demonstrate I am truly committed to the people of Walsall, passionate about Walsall.
I will fight tooth and nail locally and nationally for a policy that benefits the people of Walsall South.
I am a Walsall girl born and bred. Walsall is my passion – the town is very much in my heart.
I WILL get the best for residents and businesses in the town.
Being pro-active is vital and with that in mind, if elected, I would drive around the constituency in a Winnebago – engaging with communities.
I want to make seeing an MP as easy as possible – it should not be difficult to access the person representing you in Westminster.
I will adopt an ‘open door’ policy and I also give 10 per cent of my MP salary BACK to Walsall South, setting up a Community Chest Fund where residents and communities will be able to apply for monies.
I was very touched when Davinder Singh Bal said it was a “very noble thing” to offer to put something back into the community as MPs, he said, had been rightly criticised for what he saw as self-serving interests.
Local girl . . . local champion . . . local community.