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New Labour MP for Lewisham East talks about her faith and Windrush

Sun 24 Jun 2018
By Cara Bentley

Premier speaks to Janet Daby, a Labour politician and Christian who recently won the Lewisham by-election. 

Janet has been in local politics for many years; as a councillor and as deputy mayor of the borough but Lewisham is also her home.

The by-election caused by Heidi Alexander’s move to the mayor’s office created the opportunity for Daby to stand in her own constituency. 

She's also a member of Christians on the Left and told Premier: “I remember when I was at my local church just prior to the election day and one of the things I was saying there is that in how I conduct myself, in the years that I’ve been a Christian, God is very much before me in what I do and how I consider my approach – so yes, it has impacted my decision to get in politics and how I am as a person and my character.”

She described her first day in the House of Commons as a newly-elected MP: “It was quite profound to see so many MPs close up, that was a real experience but I think in my own mind, and my own thinking, I’m just thinking I want to make sure I have a good impact and that I can be a good voice."

The Labour MP is keen to stand up for her constituents: "It’s a time now where I just need to be learning and taking everything in and then working out the difference that I want to make."

When asked what issues she's most passionate about she replied: “Improving our NHS service, more social and affordable homes, making sure that our transport and rail services meet the needs of our local people and also, in Lewisham East, we need to improve our secondary school performance for young people."

But high up on her concerns was poverty: “There’s a lot of people who are living on the bread line or below the bread line and many people that are having two or three part time jobs and still finding it very difficult.

“The other issue that means a lot to me really is the criminal justice system and the disproportionate over representation of black men within the criminal justice system - and that is also an area I really want to focus on."

She explained: “No child grows up thinking, ‘Oh, I want to go to prison’, they don’t do that so we’ve got a system that has broken down and we want to make sure we get to the bottom of those issues.”

On the 70th anniversary of the docking of the Empire Windrush, she explains how the news of people still being mistreated in this country, despite being invited, have shocked her: "Both my parents were from the Windrush generation…this Windrush scandal, this is probably one of the worst things I’ve heard really that could happen to my mothers’ generation,

"One of the things I wanted to stress on this though is that this isn’t new – in terms of people being deported to Caribbean countries – what is new is that it’s hit the media and it’s hit the press in terms of the scale."

She added: “I think there’s still part of me that’s still in a little bit of shock that people have been deported but when people are deported, other people don’t realise their assets are being frozen."

"I still can’t fully comprehend that this is really happening to people from my background and my parent’s community and generation.”

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