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MP hopeful Faiza Shaheen shares vision for Chingford and Woodford Green


Economist and local Chingford resident Faiza Shaheen shares her vision for Chingford and Woodford Green. Priorities housing, climate, and NHS reform.

NEWS IN ENGLISH 03.07.2024, 00:20 03.07.2024, 00:43 Eddie Osman
MP hopeful Faiza Shaheen shares vision for Chingford and Woodford Green

1.How has your experience equipped you to be the best candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green? What core values and principles that help guide you in your political career? 

Firstly, I grew up here, live here, and am raising my family here. I know the issues, because they are my issues too. Secondly, I’m a leading expert on inequality, and teach at London School of Economics. I have spent years working as an economist, including with governments around the world, on what policies they can put in place to reduce inequality.

Core to my politics is justice, equality, and internationalism. I will always stand with the oppressed, and always see all humans as equal in worth. Injustice should never be tolerated.

2.Can you provide insight on your approach to international relations, your approach to world conflict, international cohesion and how you prioritise global issues in your policymaking? And more specifically, how do you believe the humanitarian crisis in Gaza should be handled going forward and what can Parliament do to address it?

I have worked on international issues including on debt cancellation, vaccines distribution during Covid-19, climate justice, and peace. This work has taken me around the world and to the United Nations. We must look at the history of global inequalities, and the role of imperialism and our own countries in creating and sustaining these inequalities. Issues such as trade justice, and climate reparations, and sharing of technology should feature far more in our policies.

What has happened in Gaza is categorically wrong. We need an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the return of hostages and prisoners, the immediate and unconditional recognition of Palestine as a state, and the ending of arm sales to Israel and all countries killing innocent civilians. A roadmap to peaceful coexistence must be drawn up, but it should be up to Palestinian and Israeli people to decide what solutions they want.

3.As a respected economist yourself, how would you combat the cost-of-living crisis that has catapulted under Conservative leadership? What long-term strategies do you find would be most effective to ensure future generations are less impacted by the current crisis?

The cost-of-living crisis requires multiple interventions. Other countries were quick to hold inflation through cuts to VAT on food for example, but the Conservatives made things worse through reckless policies under Liz Truss. Over the longer term, we should bring key utilities back in to public ownership to lower prices and tackle corporate greed, address childcare cost through a different model of provision, and bring in rent controls to address the housing crisis.

4.With the housing market skyrocketing in price in recent years and many people currently unable to make ends meet, how would you plan to regulate the renting market, support first-time buyers, and create more affordable housing, especially within your constituency?

A relatively easy first step is to curtail the global superrich buying up properties in London to hide their money. This is escalating prices for all of us. Our affordable housing model has failed, I’ve seen other countries use publicly-owned construction companies to build social housing with much better results. So far, efforts to help first time buyers like rescued stamp duty have only escalated prices for the next round of buyers. Finally, we should look at rent control models, such as those used in Germany and France, to limit the degree to which landlords can increase prices overnight. We need a radical overhaul, small changes will not be enough.

5.Turkish-speaking migrants’ rank amongst the lowest in economic and sociological standing, in comparison to other ethnic groups in the UK. What is your personal relationship with the Turkish/Kurdish/Turkish Cypriot communities and how would you help redress these imbalances within the community?

My husband is Turkish Cypriot, and I grew up with lots of Turkish and Turkish Cypriot people, so I feel very close to the community. The first thing to address the imbalances is to increase minimum wages - so many of our communities work in really vital roles in our communities such as hospitality and social care, but yet are paid very little. We need to also improve the state education sector so all children, regardless of their backgrounds, can flourish. Of course, part of the reason we consistently see certain groups at the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy is because of systemic racism.

6.What is your approach to dealing with the issue of migration? How would you ensure that the UK upholds its humanitarian responsibilities while managing the number of applicants? What measures would you implement to support migrant workers and ensure they are treated fairly and not exploited?

You will not hear me blaming immigrants for our problems, rather praising them for filling gaps in our job market and contributing to our society. Migrants must receive the same workers rights as others. 

On asylum seekers, we need to create safe routes by which they can apply abroad. 

7. 1 in 3 women have been raped or sexually assaulted. PSHE was made compulsory in 2020 but with little to no guidance or regulation. How would you plan to enforce prevention through education to lessen the statistics surrounding violence against women and girls?

We need to ensure our young people have regular contact with the experts who can properly teach them about issues such as consent. We must also engage with men to break down destructive notions of masculinity, gender and power, and in promoting gender equality.

8.What are your specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and how do you plan to achieve them? Moreover, what role do you see renewable energy playing in the UK's energy reserves in the future, and what policies would you implement to support the transition to renewables?

We must stick to the Paris Agreement and seek to reach net zero before 2050, preferably much earlier given the need to give more space for low and middle-income countries to develop. These targets provide a huge opportunity for us to address inequality, but investing in a green transition that creates well paid jobs in regions that have struggled in recent decades. Government can especially help this green and just transition by ensuring community and public ownership of renewable energy. 

9. Having recently resigned yourself from the Labour party, how can you reassure your constituents that their concerns will be heard in the House of Commons? What can you effectively accomplish as a lone Independent?

If we win on 4th July, Chingford and Woodford Green will be the most famous constituency in the country. I will be asked to go on every news show on a regular basis to provide a balance to the majority Labour government, this will bring us attention and influence. In the House of Commons, rather than being one of hundreds of Labour MPs, I will stand out and be able to work across party lines to form coalitions to push on particular topics.

10.Given the staff shortages of the NHS and the post-pandemic landscape we currently live in, what are your policies to ensure that resources and trained professionals are allocated efficiently across different regions and services within the NHS?

The NHS has been underfunded and under severe strain because of Tory austerity. The levels of stress and dissatisfaction amongst staff is evident given historic strikes in the last two years. Retention of staff is key, and listening and responding to staff needs on issues such as pay and working conditions through the relevant trade unions has to be a priority. It will take years to train new staff, but efforts must be made to boost this straight away. Where there are particular shortages, extra incentives should be given to staff to move there.

Interviewed by: Erim Hassan

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